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Love The Skin You're In: A Sex Therapist's 3 Top Tips for a Better Relationship with Your Body

As a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, my work revolves around relationships. And not just the relationships we have with others - it's also the relationship we have with ourselves. This relationship often dictates the trajectory of our lives, influencing what we believe about ourselves, what we're capable of, and our limitations. That's why it's crucial to develop a positive relationship with ourselves, including the way we feel about our bodies. If we're not comfortable in the skin we're in, why would we let anyone else in to share that space with us?


Our bodies are incredible machines that allow us to experience the world around us. They give us the ability to move, think, and feel. So why do we struggle to love ourselves? It can be challenging to appreciate our bodies when we are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us we are not good enough. Almost every element of society tries to tell us whether we are attractive enough, acceptable enough, and whether or not we are living up to an impossible standard. We see these messages in advertisements, social media, and even from the people around us. It's no wonder that many of us struggle to love ourselves fully. But the truth is, our body is our home, and it's time to start loving the skin we're in.



Understanding the Steps to Self-Love

Women of all ethnicities hugging each other

Self-love is a journey of acceptance and appreciation for all aspects of ourselves, even the ones we may not be entirely comfortable with. It starts with acknowledging and accepting our unique features, flaws, and imperfections. By becoming familiar with our bodies and finding comfort in who we are, we can take steps towards truly loving ourselves. Let's explore the 5 steps to improve our relationship with our bodies, from acknowledging and accepting our unique qualities to eventually embracing and loving ourselves unconditionally.


Acknowledge


The first step towards loving yourself is acknowledging all the different features of yourself - the things you like, don't like, and find neutral. Don't be afraid to explore every aspect of yourself, even the ones you're not so comfortable with.


Acceptance


The next step is finding acceptance for the things we cannot change. It's okay to have flaws, imperfections, and things we want to work on. But we have to learn to accept them, honor them, and embrace them as part of who we are.


Comfort


The more we allow ourselves to become familiar with all aspects of ourselves, the more comfortable we can become. Start by being kind to yourself and taking care of your body. Treat yourself to things that make you feel good, such as a relaxing bath, a massage, or a workout that you enjoy.


Liking


Once you've become more familiar and comfortable with yourself, it's time to start liking the things that are present. Focus on the things you do like about yourself and celebrate them.


Loving


Finally, over time, you'll find yourself loving yourself. And that's when the real magic happens. You'll start to appreciate your unique qualities, accept your flaws, and embrace your body for what it is - your beautiful, unique, and incredible home.


Black woman's legs reflecting in the mirror with flower

Studies have shown that the more we are exposed to something or someone, the more we tend to like it. This is known as the "mere exposure effect" and the "propinquity effect." People tend to form bonds, friendships, and romantic relationships with those they see frequently. The more we are exposed to a stimulus, the more familiar it becomes, and the more we tend to like it. In certain conditions, this can happen even outside of conscious awareness.


It's crucial to note that this effect can also be applied to ourselves. The more we expose ourselves to ourselves, the more we will develop a familiarity, which allows for more positive feelings. Developing into a liking and eventually a loving over time.


"Healing isn't about changing who you are, it's about changing your relationship to who you are. A fundamental part of that is honoring how you feel," says Suzanne Heyn. It's okay to feel uncomfortable with your body and your emotions. It's essential to allow yourself to feel these feelings and be kind to yourself in the process. Self-compassion is a crucial element in learning to love ourselves. And that's why it's crucial to start loving the skin you're in.



3 Ways to Get Started on How to Love The Skin You’re In

Asian woman taking a selfie in the mirror with camera.jpg

Mirror Work


Stand in front of a mirror for at least one minute each day for 21 days with as little clothing as you feel comfortable in. During this time, identify at least five things that you like or feel neutral about your body. If you notice self-criticism or self-contempt, transform it into self-compassion. Acknowledge the things that you do not like but do not dwell on them. Instead, focus on areas where you can improve and begin to develop a plan to make positive changes. At the end of the minute, give yourself a smile and a high-five in the mirror to honor your courage to grow and change.


Create Positive Affirmations


Develop a daily habit of creating positive affirmations for yourself. These affirmations should be written in the present tense, as if they are already your reality. You can state them during your mirror work, take them into a meditation, write them down and place them somewhere visible as a reminder, or repeat them to yourself when negative self-talk arises.


Limit Comparisons to Others


Be mindful of what and who you are consuming or exposing yourself to on a regular basis. Certain social media accounts, TV shows, and advertisements can create an unrealistic expectation of how you should look and be. This is especially true when it comes to the mere exposure effect. Comparison is the enemy of joy, so try to limit your exposure to these things and instead focus on loving yourself for who you are.




It’s important to note that self-love is a continuous process and not something that happens overnight. It requires practice, patience, and consistency. By implementing these three ways to love the skin you’re in, you can start to develop a positive relationship with your body and ultimately learn to love it unconditionally. So, take the time to appreciate and honor your body for all that it does for you, and never forget that you are worthy and deserving of love and respect – including from yourself.



 


Rachel Smith

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Board Certified Sex Therapist


You deserve to feel safe within your intimacy, and I'm specially trained to do that.


As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Sex Therapist, my main mission is to help you foster true intimacy within yourself by guiding you through the therapeutic healing journey.








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