I’ve spent years studying how confidence works and I’ve found it’s the thing everyone wants the most and yet people don’t know how to develop it and often don’t recognize their own unique confidence style.
Here’s the thing about confidence: it is not one size fits all.
After studying confidence for years and how it operates in different people and different settings, I have developed five confidence types because I believe it shows up in multiple ways. Understanding your natural confidence style and that of those around you—particularly your partner—will help you to get more of what you want and you can use it to the benefit of everyone involved.
Most people want more confidence. I know how much this topic strikes a chord for people and how much people are looking for tools to develop their confidence. I also know how painful it is for people who are not able to step up and step out in their lives as the confident people they want to be.
Wherever you are with your confidence, it’s okay. Give yourself a break. I know it can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but I really want you to know that you can change it, so don’t fall into feeling shame and getting stuck in the “this will never change” woes.
WHAT GETS IN THE WAY OF SEXUAL CONFIDENCE?
- The first thing that holds you back is you don’t feel confident in your sexual skills—and no wonder, because most of us are lucky to get any sex education at all and it’s usually focused on how to not get an infection or pregnant. Nothing at all about how to be a skilled lover. Unless you take the step to seek out sexual mentors, to read books and watch videos and be a student of sexuality, or to work with a trained professional, you’re trying to figure it out as you go along, and that means you can only learn through experience—with people who are ALSO trying to figure it out as they go along.
This is how most people approach sex, and it’s enough for some people. If you have good partners, there is a lot you can learn through experience. But if you want to live the life of the sexually adventurous and go beyond the status quo, it means going several steps further to really learn new sexual skills and be a confident lover.
You have to get over the inertia of not knowing. Know that sex is a skill and you can always learn new skills.
Experimentation and taking risks builds confidence. You have to overcome the fear of doing it wrong. Because sexuality is so personal and vulnerable, the fear of “doing it wrong” or “not getting it right” can keep people in paralysis. But that doesn’t actually get you closer to the sexually adventurous life you want. You have to try things – you might not like them all and they might not all work out the way you want. Whether you’re single and developing your skills as a solo person, or in a relationship and wanting to work on your sexual connection with a partner, there are always new things to learn.
- The second thing that gets in the way is that you don’t feel confident about who YOU really are as a sexual person. In my book, Woman On Fire, I wrote about the subject of erotic authenticity, because I see we live in a culture that bombards us constantly with messages about how we have to look, act and behave in order to be sexually desirable to others. And we have to be critical for this story because it privileges certain kinds of bodies, ages, ethnic features and gender expressions over others. So unless you happen to have a certain genetic combination that fits the ideal of “beautiful and sexy,” that cultural story leave s most of us out in the cold.
But what you have to realize is that authentic sexual confidence isn’t about that – it comes from within. It comes from really knowing who you are as a sexual person and accepting your desires and being able to bring that out in your relationships. That is something you will never buy in a store and it is available to ALL OF US. It comes from inside you and you get closer to it as you let go of that BS cultural story about who you’re supposed to be. Then you are freer to be who you actually are as a sexual person.
In all my programs, whether virtual or in person, I always make space for us to have these discussions about how we’re impacted by cultural and family ideas of “who we’re supposed to be” as sexual people. It’s a key part to the work of sexual empowerment and many times, we just never get access to conversations on this level. Just hearing other people share openly and honestly about their experiences can do so much to lift the silence and isolation that surrounds our sexual struggles and send you back to your sexual life with a renewed confidence and ability to talk about sex.
I wasn’t always as confident as I am now. I grew into my voice and my own personal power. I can remember when I was younger not being able to utter a word during sex, not being able to answer questions about what I liked or what I desired or what my fantasies were. I would almost go mute. I would get so shy, because I was so conditioned NOT to talk about sex and desire. And who would have thought I’d end up talking about sex for a living? I have been blessed with amazing mentors, teachers, avenues of study, and personal experiences that expanded me and brought me to the place where I am now, but it was NOT innate. I had to do this work for myself: of learning new sexual skills, committing myself to being a student of sexuality, developing my own erotic authenticity and creating the language to have these conversations with others.
If you haven’t yet taken the Confidence Quiz, I suggest you do. We field tested and tweaked it several times, and by now, have found it to be quite accurate. It’s a quick 15 questions to identify where you are in the confidence spectrum.