Reclaim Your Sexuality | Natasha Helfer | Episode 22

Reclaim Your Sexuality | Natasha Helfer | Episode 22

Join Certified Sex Therapist Natasha Helfer and Kimber as they discuss: 1. What it means to "Reclaim Female Sexuality"

2. The different messages men and women receive about pleasure and sexuality

3. How sexuality and guilt can be intertwined

4. The difference between sexual behaviors and sexual principles

5. The 6 health principles

7. What IS sexuality and how important is it?

8. What is "Erotic Nakedness?"

9. Natasha's Top Ten Tips on "Just Being Your Bad Self" in the bedroom (ways to reclaim your sexuality

10.  What it means to live an "erotic lifestyle." 


Follow Kimber on instagram @justbeyourbadself 

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Resources for further study






[00:00:00] Welcome

[00:00:00] welcome back to the, just be your best self podcast. Where you are worthy of love, just the way you are. I'm your host, Kimber Dutton. And today I'll be talking to certified sex therapist. Natasha Helfer.

[00:00:14] Natasha is a certified sex therapist who dedicate so much of her work and focus on helping people recognize how to move into sex positive spaces. She believes most people have been affected by sexual shame. Whether from their familial religious or cultural upbringings. She wants to help people understand their potential for authenticity and pleasure through resources, education and experiential exercises.

[00:00:42] Natasha is partnering with me in hosting the reclaiming female sexuality retreat, which is coming up in may. And we're really excited about what we're offering there. But whether you can attend that retreat or not, she is just an amazing person. And I want it to be able to share her wealth of knowledge with all of you on this podcast.


[00:01:00] So here we go.

[00:01:02] Natasha. Thanks for joining me on the podcast today.

[00:01:06] Oh, I'm so happy to be here. Kimberly. Thanks for inviting me.

[00:01:09] Can you give our listeners just a brief overview of who you are and what you do.

[00:01:14] Okay. Sure. I'm a marriage and family therapist. I have been for almost 25 years now. . I'm an AASECT certified therapist as well. And I work primarily kind of in this intersection of faith, religion, spirituality, and sexuality. I for whatever reason have just been in these spaces professionally where I mean, I come from Mormonism myself, but even like living in the, in the Midwest for a long period of my life.

[00:01:44] Have met with a lot of both Mormon people, evangelical people, Catholic people born again, Christians non-denominational people. So a lot of issues that have to do kind of with people's sexuality and sexual relationships and marital relationships, but also. In regards to kind of how they manage their religious beliefs, their values, their standards, and as well as people who are transitioning from religions as well.

[00:02:10] So we're noticing more and more of that kind of across the board in religious communities. And so as people do that, they still want to lead , ethical moral lives. And so they're rethinking some of their sexual values. And so it's been this really interesting space. I've been able to work with.

[00:02:31] And I just love, I love working in that.

[00:02:35] Yeah, it's fascinating, super fascinating stuff. How much ethics and belief get all mixed up in our sexuality and pleasure and desire.

[00:02:44] What does it mean to "Reclaim Female Sexuality?"

[00:02:44] So this retreat that you and I are going to be doing, we're naming it after a class that you already teach called reclaiming female sexuality. And I just want to go there.

[00:02:53] I want to jump into why did you name your class reclaiming, reclaiming, right? Not just claiming, but reclaiming female sexuality. What are you seeing in your practice and with the people that you're interacting with? That made you see a need for this kind of class and what do you do in it?

[00:03:15] Yeah, that's a good question. Yeah.

[00:03:18] Again, having worked with primarily females that come from conservative religious backgrounds, they tend to have a lot of similar themes in regards to some of their ideas around sexuality and some of the. Stereotypes and myths and biases that affect how we see ourselves sexually.

[00:03:41] And you don't necessarily need to come from a religious background to have been impacted by a lot of these. What I would call sex negative messages, that permeate kind of our media, that permittee some of our literature and music. And

[00:03:56] and the fact that at least in this country, none of us are really afforded comprehensive sexual education.

[00:04:03] Right? So we, for the most part still have a reproductive sexual education. Format in the public school system. And it's primarily based on fear and consequences and keeping kids for the most part afraid of, or abstinent in regards to sexuality. And there's not like. Second class, we go to at some point where we're like, oh, well, now that you're grown up, now, we're going to focus on your pleasure based sexual sexual education.

[00:04:40] And we're going to give you all the tools and how to navigate that. So when you think about most of the education. We've received. It's kind of at the ages of 12 to 17 and it's not super pleasure oriented. It's not super relationally oriented. It's more about STI and how to avoid them and how to not get pregnant.

[00:05:01] And you know how to avoid some of these kinds of catastrophic ways that we talk about sex.

[00:05:06] Yeah.

[00:05:08] So a lot of people don't have. Great knowledge in regards to their own sexuality, their own potential for pleasure, their own ability to communicate about sexuality with a potential partner or even a long-term partner. And yeah.

[00:05:26] we have a lot of. Kind of sex, negative messaging that we've inherited from, I would say millennia and millennia, full history of

[00:05:38] issues that come down the pike in regards to things that we've taught about who we are as humans and in the sexual realm.

[00:05:48] and as you were talking, I thought it's so funny that we don't teach about. Pleasure and sex ed classes and school. It's just very much like you said, reproductive system. And even that much scares people, a lot of people opt their kids out of even getting the reproductive system education. And so there's, there's just one more layer of I guess, ignorance about sexuality and what that is for people.

[00:06:15] It's such a taboo. Topic. It's something that I think a lot of parents struggle talking to their kids about. I know for me as a kid, like, even as a little kid, I knew there was something about S E X and I couldn't, you always had to spell it out S E X. And it was like this mystery kind of naughty taboo thing that existed that no one was supposed to talk about.

[00:06:39] And I can't speak for everyone, I guess, but in my own life, Sexuality. Wasn't something I understood at all until after I was, I'm still learning. I'm still learning a lot, but getting more comfortable talking about it has taken years since getting married, I would never have imagined having a conversation on a podcast with a sex therapist about sex, because it's such a, kind of a taboo, naughty thing to talk about.

[00:07:11] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. We don't have good role models and being able to openly talk about these subjects. For sure. Most of us were not given great education and therefore we do have this kind of underlying anxiety, just broaching the topic. With ourselves, but especially with our kids, it's, it's hard to know how to, how to do these things and how to do them well.

[00:07:38] And most of us are anxious about our kids' sexuality. Most of us are concerned about things like our kids being sexual too early. Being hurt in some way sexually or having some type of sexual consequences. And so we, we do approach sexuality. A lot of times with this kind of anxious fear based energy that then gets translated and intergenerationally kind of communicated down the pike.

[00:08:09] And it has an effect because although there are, there are. Things that should be taken seriously when it comes to sexuality in regards to consequences. If that's all we're focusing on, then it's very difficult to relax and surrender and be pleasure focused once those things that are more in place in regards to adult consensual sexuality. Once those things are in place to even be able to enjoy it. It's not like you've got this like turn off, turn on button that you can,

[00:08:46] That'd be so nice. My husband would love that.

[00:08:51] right. When you want it to be we're sexual beings from birth to death, it's, it's hard to know how to approach these issues from a developmentally appropriate developmentally appropriate level, but also. A responsible way, but not so much a fear-based away. So then when people are prepared to have pleasure in their lives, they can enjoy that.

[00:09:13] appropriately

[00:09:15] The Messages Men and Women Receive about Pleasure and Sex

[00:09:15] So why pleasure. Why is that important? Some people maybe would argue with you on that.

[00:09:23] about pleasure.

[00:09:24] I think, I think coming back to the women thing, the women thing, just the idea of reclaiming female sexuality, I would say as a woman, I was never taught that that was that an important, you know and maybe we can talk about that.

[00:09:41] And maybe the messaging, the difference of messaging about sex between men and women, what's been your experience talking to people, the differences there.

[00:09:52] Yeah, well, I think in in American culture in general, and then maybe in Christian, you know culture, we definitely have this. Work ethic kind of thing going on here in the United States, where I think in general pleasure is seen as suspect.

[00:10:13] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:10:14] Pleasure is seen as hedonistic pleasure is seen as maybe a waste of time.

[00:10:20] We're very kind of, we're a culture, that's more about productivity and getting things done. And even from like, forget sex, let's just talk about sleep for a minute, right? Like if you sleep longer than like, Six and a half to seven hours a night. That's almost seen as lazy, even though we know that we need like eight to nine hours of sleep.

[00:10:43] so we have this relationship with, with work and pleasure in general that isn't super hard.

[00:10:50] I just need to interject here that as you were talking, I just got done with this last retreat that I did which was a women's retreat and open up about a lot of things. But one of the kind of touch points was this idea of rest. People expressed a lot of guilt and shame. Around meeting a nap in the middle of the afternoon around taking a bath.

[00:11:14] They didn't want people to view them as lazy or that they didn't love their kids enough to always be, be giving, giving to them. So, totally. I think that's a very cultural thing. This idea that pleasure is not worthy of our time, but it's all about productivity. Like you said.

[00:11:34] Yeah.

[00:11:35] Yeah.

[00:11:36] So that's, I think that's something that affects anybody wherever you are in the gender spectrum male, female, non binary, et cetera. At the same time, I think, yes. If you've been socialized as a. Male and our culture. You have somewhat gotten the message that you're supposed to be sexual.

[00:11:55] You know, that you're, you're going to be a sexual person, that you're going to have a hard time keeping it in your pants. You know that you're going to be the stuff that's going to go out there and have all these experiences. And. Depending on which religion or which culture you come from, there's different kind of dynamics about this, but that's in general, the sense that you get, which is problematic for the, for males for a variety of reasons.

[00:12:23] Anyway, cause not all males are sexual and not all men want to be the initiators and not all men feel like they need to be, the end all be all sexual, , excitement. For their partners, et cetera. And I think women are oftentimes socialized, especially in conservative cultures, that they are the gatekeepers of sexuality, that they are to be protected, , from these sexual men who have this interest in them.

[00:12:52] Right. So like, I think many of us probably grew up hearing something like, oh, All they want you for is sex. You know, all they want to do is get in your pants. So be aware of these male figures in your life.

[00:13:08] Yeah.

[00:13:08] just going to use you and abuse you for your sexuality. And so a lot of times women are not getting the message that they themselves are sexual, but that they're going to be sexually acted upon. and that's a big part of why I'm talking about this claiming and reclaiming of our sexuality, because I don't know that a lot of times we've been given the permission to even think of ourselves as sexual beings given these backgrounds. And if you mix that in with not understanding, pleasure and add sprinkle in a few more things like.

[00:13:45] Good girl syndrome or this idea that I'm supposed to be a good wife and being a good wife means that. You know, meet my husband's needs. Now you have duty and obligation attached to sexuality. So, so you have a lot of times a space where I don't know myself very well. I don't know what brings me pleasure or even how to prioritize pleasure in my life.

[00:14:11] And I should prioritize somebody else's pleasure. And that's the space where. Finding out about myself sexually, and that's a lot of recipe for disaster.

[00:14:25] Sex and Guilt

[00:14:25] and I don't think you can talk about this idea of pleasure and being okay with pleasure and claiming your sexuality without talking about guilt, right. Especially in your space where you were working in this. What's the word intertwining of, of faiths, religion, values and sexuality. How do you navigate people that come in that have want to try certain things out, maybe, but feel guilty about it or feel guilt?

[00:15:00] I mean, there's guilt and sex in my mind. Just go. So tightly together in our culture for so many reasons in your practice. How do you approach that? Is it ever good to feel guilty or is that an emotion that we need to how do I, I don't want to get too far into it. I just want to let you talk because I'm sure that's something you deal often with.

[00:15:23] Yeah, this relationship between guilt and sexuality is a very, very common one. Again, many of us grew up in cultures where we were tuts something about sex being wrong or bad or dirty in a variety of different ways. You know, either. When you're having sex. So again, if you grew up religious, a lot of times you were given messages that maybe sex outside of marriage was wrong or bad or sinful.

[00:15:55] Right. There can also be like ideas of what kind of sex is. Okay. And what kind of sex isn't. Right. So depending on what you're into or not into there can be guilt about that. A lot of us, if you're my age, grew up with a lot of ideas around sexual orientation. So if you were gay or lesbian or bisexual, there was probably a lot of guilt in regards to feeling like there was something wrong with you or that, that wasn't okay.

[00:16:26] Or inappropriate somehow. So. And even even normal things that are considered kind of like normative, I guess, normative is probably a better word than normal in regards to the human experience. Something like as simple as masturbation, like touching your own body, which we know that pretty much from, from the womb on we do Can be sinifized by certain cultures and religions.

[00:16:52] And so a lot of times we're feeling guilty because the people were being raised by or telling us that even certain things that feel pretty. Common or normal to do our things we shouldn't be doing from a pretty early age. So it's hard to then all of a sudden turn all of that off or give yourself permission to maybe think differently than that, or to try different things that maybe you once thought weren't that great or wonder is this.

[00:17:24] Morally. Okay. Does this fit with my values or doesn't it? Am I doing something that. Will harm me, or that will benefit me or our relationship. These are questions that people have a lot of angst about and can feel guilty. And so, Yeah.

[00:17:43] Sexual Behaviors vs. Sexual Principles

[00:17:43] this is probably like at the crux of a lot of the work that I do is sitting with people's questions, sitting with people's ideas about you know, a lot, a lot of times.

[00:17:55] Start off by asking people. Well, what were some of the messages that you grew up hearing? You know, what, what did your family teach you about sex? What did your friends teach you about sex? What did your church leaders teach you about sex? What, what kind of society or culture did you grow up in? What what, what did you learn at school?

[00:18:16] What did you learn from TV shows, right? Or from media that you were Watching So, that I kind of get a sense of the messaging. And then we try to juxtapose that with. Here's maybe some principles, right. That we might consider in the realm of sexual health, right? Here's some may sexual health principles.

[00:18:41] And how did those messages align or not align with these principles? And what I notice a lot of times is that we usually grow up in. Spaces where we've been taught that sometimes behaviors are good or not good instead of actually being taught principles. Right.

[00:19:02] so so give me an example of that.

[00:19:06] yeah. So in other words

[00:19:07] marital sex is good and premarital sex is bad, right? So that would be. At behavior like a do or don't think So don't have premarital sex do have marital sex, which in a way is giving people this message that well, marital sex is going to be great and healthy and wonderful. And premarital sex is going to be awful and dangerous and horrible and lead to bad things. When in reality, If you have somebody who is married, but not following good sexual principles, you have situations where there's something as serious as marital rape and that can happen. For example, with. Vanilla missionary position, sex men, a heterosexual couple doesn't even require anything to kinky or off pudding and that happens quite often and, and maybe not full rape per se, but coercive sexuality where there's guilt tripping.

[00:20:15] And again, like these kind of obligatory situations where it's like, well, I don't want to have a fight, so we'll just kind of. Given to these kinds of things to keep each other happy. It's not great marital sex. It's not what I would consider healthy marital sexuality. That's driven by , healthy sexual principles, which would include things like consent and non coercion, pleasure and honesty, and shared values.

[00:20:45] So I see a lot of very conservative, married heterosexual couples. Almost breaking every single one of the health principles coming into my office. There's six sexual health principles, right. That we consider. And whether or not it fits your values. There are people having premarital or non-marital sexuality, where they are very much keeping those principles and having.

[00:21:16] You know, a good time or respectful time having good boundaries. So maybe that doesn't fall into your religious values to have premarital or outside of marital sex. But for people who don't share those values, they can still be upholding those sexual principles and not damaging their mental health or their sexual health in those ways.

[00:21:40] The 6 Sexual Health Principles

[00:21:40] So you said there's six. Can you list those for us real quick?

[00:21:43] yeah.

[00:21:43] so the first one would be consent. And these all sound really simple, but I can guarantee you they're not. Okay. So like I did an hour long podcast on each one of these on my podcast, which is Mormon sex info with the person who kind of organized these principles. And we went into depth as to why these are very complex.

[00:22:07] We'll link to that in my show notes. So anybody that wants to can go in depth on all of these.

[00:22:12] brought Harvey did an amazing job of giving me like 10 hours of his free time explaining these.

[00:22:17] things. So it's a wonderful resource for people. So consent would be number one. Two would be non coercion. Or exploitation, which again, a lot of people think, oh, that means sex trafficking or whatever.

[00:22:31] And I'm like, no, I mean, yeah, that's an extreme, that's an extreme version of coercion and exploitation, but there are lots of ways that we can use power plays and ex you know, exploited or coerce each other, even in a fairly loving marriage. So that's something that we need to look at. Number three is protection from a STI is an unwanted pregnancy.

[00:22:56] And being around as many peoples I've been around, even in marriages, there are many times that people are not honest about their family planning and not honest with what they're doing about birth control or what they'd like to be doing, et cetera. Number four is honesty. Are you really being honest about. Your interests, your desires, what you want, what the relationship is about for you

[00:23:23] your erotic templates, your behavior something as simple as infidelity, for example, would be dishonesty. Fifth is shared values. So, do we share similar values so that our sexualities competitor. And so that our behavior that we're engaging in is coming from a space of shared values and six is mutual pleasure is the pleasure of all the parties involved being equally prioritized and pleasure.

[00:23:55] It doesn't necessarily have to mean orgasm, right? Because sometimes people aren't interested in an orgasm and every sexual encounter. Sometimes people are interested in other things. And sometimes people are interested in quickies and giving quickies or whatever those things are. So I'm always quick to say pleasure is a much wider umbrella that may include orgasm, but it can also include a variety of other things that make it more diverse.

[00:24:28] What is Sexuality and How Important is It?

[00:24:28] So, what is the sexuality? You have a class about, you have lots of classes, but the one that I want to focus on, cause this is what our retreat will be about. Is this reclaiming female sexuality? What does that encompass.

[00:24:46] Yeah, that's a really good question too, because sexuality and the study of human sexuality encompasses a wide variety of things. I think a lot of times we think sexuality, we immediately start thinking of penises and vaginas and how they fit together. And so sexuality is, is obviously yes, it is sexual behavior, but it is also. Encompasses our orientation. So in other words, how we orient sexually, who we're attracted to it, it also includes our gender identities, how we orient our own ideas of femininity masculinity, whether or not we even consider ourselves in that binary or not. It also includes our bodies, our body image. It includes again, sexual behaviors that we might be interested in. It includes fantasy, which is oftentimes not tied to any behavior we're interested in. So that's a whole nother realm, right. It's kind of like what we like in pretend land. It's sensuality it's about our bodies like our arousal in regards to physiology.

[00:25:58] It's our arousal also intellectually it's so many things, right? So sexuality is like this wide aspect of who we are. And what's so interesting is that it's an integral part of our identity and it's an integral part of our health. And we have downplayed sexuality as this like thing that oh, That's a poopoo type of thing like who cares about sexuality?

[00:26:25] That's not really that important if you, if you happen to have good sex in your life. Great. That's great. But if you don't you don't need sex to survive. I've heard that for a lot, from a lot of people you don't need sex to survive. That's actually not as true as people think when people are sexually unhealthy, sexually unsatisfied, sexually not kind of. No, not, I would say fulfilled, but developed in their sexuality that can affect all kinds of things. It can affect your mental health. It can affect your physical health. It can affect of course your relational health, depending on what kinds of relationships you're interested in having it can affect your spiritual health and how you see yourself kind of in a larger.

[00:27:10] World and cause a lot of people think of spirituality and think of a religion, but there's a lot of non-religious people who still value spirituality. So these are, I mean, our sexuality is tied to every aspect of who we are and we have very poor job as a culture of educating people about this and understanding how it should be actually part of our health.

[00:27:35] Yeah, as you were talking, I was thinking about a lot of the people who I've, I've interviewed on this podcast. And it's fascinating to me that I am someone who identifies as Man. There's so many terms now that I've got to remember just like your classic heterosexual identify as, as female. But a lot of the people that I've had on this podcast are people who.

[00:28:02] Have I identified differently? The law identified differently than me, so they identify, I've had a transgender woman on this podcast. I've had people who have come out as homosexual non-binary and it's been interesting to me that that's the kind of person that I, that, I mean all kinds of people on this podcast, but that sends to be something that comes up a lot, because this is a podcast about.

[00:28:30] Authenticity. And I'm really into this idea of living this examined life. And so a lot of the, a lot of people who have had to really dive in and explore their own sexuality, they, they tend to be super authentic and intelligent and more in touch in so many other areas of their life. Like they really.

[00:28:55] Lead a more examined life. And I look up to people who have really got to dive into that and explore that about themselves a little more than maybe I have. And so I totally believe what you're saying that it, it encompasses a lot more than we give it credit for.

[00:29:11] Yes. I, I mean, it's, there's so many different research articles and so many different themes but just, even for example, in the realm of orientation, if you're not able to develop and self-actualize in your sexual orientation, the risks of suicide, for example, Three to five times greater than the rest of the population.

[00:29:34] If you're not able to actualize in your gender identity that's seven to nine times greater than the, than the general population. And then the, the risks and substance abuse and mental health symptoms are greatly larger as well. And sexual dysfunction like vaginismus and erectile dysfunction and orgasm gaps between sexual partners of course sexual trauma.

[00:30:03] And I think a lot of even sexual criminality is tied to our inability as a culture to really prioritize sexual health and sexual. Communication and sexual education correctly. So it's just, it permeates every aspect of our lives. It impacts every single person, whether you are asexual to all the way to hypersexual it's.

[00:30:29] This is, this is something that is part of who we are, how we, and all the expectations that have come down about. We're all you're supposed to fit into this type of box. And again, you don't have to come from a religiously conservative background to have the expectations of heteronormativity be implied in, in our culture.

[00:30:54] And we're just starting really in the last 20 years to try to break free from, again, hundreds and hundreds of years of this very heteronormative box. And so it's, it's it just doesn't we don't do Well,

[00:31:10] as humans when we're boxed in.

[00:31:14] Yeah. Most people that listening are going to be familiar with Bernay Brown's work, which is all around vulnerability and shame, which is also super, super tied into our sexuality. And again, shame, I would think that shame in one area of our life can really permeate, outward. And you said the suicide rates go.

[00:31:43] Go way up for people who don't feel like they can be actualized in their sexual or gender identities.

[00:31:52] The Difference Between Physical Nakedness and Erotic Nakedness

[00:31:52] Exactly and I and I think that people who are living with. Relationships where they don't feel like they can be themselves and they're hiding aspects of themselves. I would say we're expected and especially in kind of conservative marriages to get naked kind of on day one, right? Like, don't do anything before marriage.

[00:32:14] All of a sudden you're like naked in front of each other. So you're supposed to go from this like kind of barely kissing each other and barely having any erotic energy to immediately being naked and being in front of each other. I think it takes years and years and years, if ever for couples to learn how to be erotically naked in front of each other. Because that's a whole different vulnerability.

[00:32:44] I don't even know what that means. I think we haven't really separated this idea of nudity and eroticism or nudity and sexuality. Right. So what is erotic? That doesn't mean anything to me. It wasn't me.

[00:32:59] for me, what that means is that I can actually show up that I can actually tell you what I'm interested in. That I can tell you what. I'm into that. I can tell you what turns me on that. I can tell you what I fantasize about that I can tell you how to touch me, that I can ask you how to touch you and that I can trust that you'll actually tell me and that I can tell you Hey, it's okay to touch me here, but not there.

[00:33:22] And I can tell you what has happened to me in my past. And I can tell you what I'd like to have happened in my future. Right? Like it's like my story that I can actually. Naked in front of you with my sexual self. I don't know that a lot of times we know how to be naked with ourselves sexually. A lot of times we don't know ourselves sexually enough to then even be naked with a partner, but there's so much fear.

[00:33:50] And either I'm going to hurt you. By making you uncomfortable with my erotic making this, because I'm going to tell you something that you're not going to be comfortable with. Some of that, just hide that part of myself or I'm I'm scared to be vulnerable because I might be rejected by you. So I don't want to tell you something that might make you leave me or not love me, or think I'm weird or deficient in some way.

[00:34:16] It's such a messy space and couplehood to know how to navigate something that's supposed to bring us so close together. That's that you think in like a traditional marriage, you, you see each other in a way that nobody else sees you. Right? I don't go around walking naked

[00:34:41] in so many ways. We don't know how to talk to each other, really communicate about our sexuality. And it keeps us distant in ways that many times can actually fracture the relationship. And at best keeps us significantly less intimate than we could enjoy. And a lot of that is because we just don't have good role modeling.

[00:35:05] We don't have good communication skills. We don't have good differentiation skills, meaning I can't tolerate the discomfort of your sexuality being different than mine. And And we we're just, we're scared and we're, we're, we're not able to really bridge that divide. So that's what I mean by erotically make it, there's no way that two 22 year olds are getting a radically naked on day one after having kissed across.

[00:35:39] Natasha's Top Tips on "Just Being Your Bad Self" in the Bedroom (ways to help you reclaim your sexuality)

[00:35:39] So that leads right into this question that I've kind of had on my mind to ask you, which is to fit with the theme of my podcasts. What are like your top? You can choose how many, top three, top five, top 10 tips on just being your bad self in the bedroom and not in, not bad self in as in necessarily naughty sexy, but.

[00:36:03] Being true to yourself, being true to your own values within this relationship, tricky sexuality sphere. So top however many tips you want on just being your bad self in the bedroom.

[00:36:18] Yeah, well, I'll just share kind of a simple equation that I use in most of my work and in my presentations. And then the group that you were in Kimber. I think we start with permission. We give ourselves permission to heal and to prioritize our sexuality, whatever that means to you. Right. So, and this is why I, again, I want you to be thinking about the spectrum of somebody who might consider themselves asexual all the way to somebody who might consider themselves hypersexual.

[00:36:50] Because again, when we talk about sexuality, I think people are immediately thinking, oh, I've got it. I've got it. Get to a point where I have a certain type of sex or. You know, asexual people are not necessarily interested in having certain types of sex with certain people. So giving themselves permission to orient themselves as a sexual may be a huge part of their journey.

[00:37:12] Right? So permission is I think, where we start, we give ourselves permission to say, What, first of all, I think this is important. I think this lady might be right and it's not just me. This is not my brilliant idea, but sexual health might be an important thing that I should prioritize in my life. And how am I going to give myself energy and you know, how am I going to be intentional about that?

[00:37:38] Because nothing worthwhile happens. Yeah.

[00:37:41] Naturally and organically we have to kind of intentionally be willing to step into a space of permission. The second thing is. Information, you have to get educated. So you have to be willing to find the resources that will educate you in regards to whatever you think you're missing.

[00:38:00] Right? So whether you're reading the new male sexuality or becoming clutter it, or you're getting LGBTQ plus resources, or you're visiting or whatever those things are to really understand yourself and others and human sexuality in general. The third thing is practice. So if you want to step into new spaces, new behavior, new ways of thinking, you have to practice those things because those old ways of being are difficult to overcome.

[00:38:37] Like you mentioned guilt the nice little voice of guilt that loves to show up. It's like, what. boys can be silenced or at least muted significantly, but that takes time and practice and like learning a new instrument or doing anything. New things are squeaky at first. And it's important not to get discouraged during those squeaky initial times, because eventually you, your muscle memory, your intellectual memory kicks in and you start desensitizing yourself. To these sex negative things that you've picked up along the way. And then the last piece is intensive therapy. So when you need, when you're like, Okay.

[00:39:24] I've done all these things and I've really put in some good good forth effort. And yet I'm still finding hurdles. Or I know that there's things in my past that are going to take more than this.

[00:39:35] Like for example having gone through some sexual trauma or some sexual assault Or I have I'm in a relationship that although maybe we want it to work out, we've had some chronic relational issues that are getting in the way of us being able to really enjoy our erotic energy together.

[00:39:53] So we need to go to couples therapy right. Or something. So I think those are the pieces that I would put into kind of like a basic equation or helping you prioritize and reclaim your sexuality.

[00:40:07] Resources

[00:40:07] I love those tips. Do you have a space where you've you have literature that you would recommend, or if people are interested in getting. Therapy, especially sex therapy. Do you have someplace that people can go or I'm sure I'll have you send me resources that I can link in my show notes, but it's what are some resources that people that are interested in learning more can go to.

[00:40:33] Well, obviously I don't have a comprehensive library, but you can go onto my website, Natasha And I do have. A page called library and I try to put some of what I think are some of the best books in regards to sexuality and relationships on there. So that's a place to.

[00:40:52] start. But by no means, would I say I have everything that's on there?

[00:40:57] So that's one way as far as finding. Good people to work with professionally. I, I do want to say that I do think it's important for your professional to be trained in sex therapy. I have to own my own reality that as I became trained in sexuality, I started realizing my, my blind spots and my biases so that I feel like I did harm unintentionally.

[00:41:28] Prior to that training as a marriage therapist, because I did not know certain aspects of sexuality and I came in with certain kind of generalities around sexuality, or even about marriage in general that I, I could have potentially hurt. By not understanding some of these things. So the place I would go to find a sex therapist that is trained in a way that I would trust is the organization ACEP, which is AA, S E C.

[00:42:01] Dot com, And they would have a therapy referral that you can put in your zip code and find somebody who is close to you in regards to that. And you know, just be careful about people's. What would I say credentials? Right. So you have to really understand what credentials mean.

[00:42:24] You can ask any professional that you're going to see questions before you see them. And of course, questions as you see them have you taken training in this particular subject? Some therapists would be, will be great. And working with you in one particular area, but not so great. In other areas, we all have our own scopes of practice, right?

[00:42:44] Like if you are doing. Come to me for sexuality. That's great. If you're going to come to me for an eating disorder, I would say, you know what, I'm maybe a good starting point for them to give you some basic ideas. And I'm going to refer you to somebody else who specializes in that because that's not my area of specialty.

[00:43:02] So good therapists will know when their scope of practice is not there. And I would be careful with the Kind of the sexual addiction field. That's not a field that the Asex community supports in regards to treating anything to do with sexuality from an addictions lens. So there are a lot of professionals out there that have been trained in kind of like this addiction way of treating sexuality.

[00:43:30] And that has not that has not shown to be an effective way of treating sexual concerns. And it kind of falls into this inadvertent kind of shaming paradigm that we want to stay away from in regards to sexuality, it's also, it happens to be a form of treatment that is much more common in religiously conservative areas.

[00:43:55] So religious communities are more prone and vulnerable to that kind of treatment as well as therapists. I think a lot of therapists go into that type of training. Very well intentioned. I think they believe in it. I don't think that these are like mean awful therapists, but I do believe that they have biases that are not necessarily going to be helpful in treating some of these issues that you might be dealing with in your relationship.

[00:44:21] Yeah, that's really important. Thank you for addressing that to close out. I kind of want to talk about, so you mentioned that I took your reclaiming female sexuality course from you, which was fabulous. And I highly, I highly recommend any of Natasha's courses. I've only taken one, but I want to take all of them.

[00:44:39] What Does it Mean to Have an Erotic Lifestyle?

[00:44:39] But I love the way you ended that course, which was, we talked about this idea of living an erotic . Lifestyle. Can you talk to us about that? What does that mean? And what does that entail?

[00:44:52] Yeah.

[00:44:52] And I think this is somewhat tied to the concept of pleasure. Right? So eroticism again has usually been something that has been a bit sinifized in our culture, right. Something erotic is seen as taboo is seen as a bit A bit naughty. If you go back and to kind of our Christian history, we have this kind of Madonna whore complex going on with even Mary mother Eve being kind of the seductress of humanity.

[00:45:19] Seducing Adam apple. And there's a lot of, there's a lot that comes from that kind of like background. And then you have this, this holier than thou Virgin Mary who's a mother, but somehow got there virginally kind of very desexualized woman, right? Who is the mother of Christ. And so. Not great role models for, to kind of espouse to, and kind of this very polarized way. And so I'm trying always to for those who are interested because not everybody's interested necessarily in eroticism or. Quote-unquote sexiness or all that, but to reclaim those words kind of like you think about the queer community, they've reclaimed that word.

[00:46:11] They're like we used to, we used to that used to be a slur and now it's like, no, I'm queer and I'm going to own that. You know, you kind of hear that with the slut word as well. And, and so I'm kind of like trying to. Get people to think about eroticism and sexual and sexy and these kinds of ways.

[00:46:30] It's like, I get to decide what that means for me. And and it's not just about a sexual health. It's about how I navigate in the world. It's how I carry myself. It's how I choose to dress. It's how I choose to look at nature. It's how I choose to have things feel against my skin even sunshine or it's the music I listened to.

[00:46:56] It's how I move. In certain spaces. It's how. I choose to just kind of breathe and function in the world. So whether you like the word erotic or whether you like the word sensual like focusing on your senses whether it's the word, spiritual, even whatever words kind of resonate with getting in touch with something.

[00:47:19] That is in tune with your body, spirit, mind, soul, whatever those things that are, that you feel connected to you and the world around you in ways that no longer get co-opted by the culture, right? That oh, sexy is bad because only. You know, pornified women are sexy or something. It's like, no, if I want to feel sexy, I get to feel sexy.

[00:47:41] If that's a word that resonates with me, I get to claim that that's not, I'm not going to be pigeonholed into a corner because that's a word that I want to explore or see what that can mean for me. So that's, that's kind of where I'm going with that or erotic lifestyle.

[00:47:58] Guy. I love that idea. I've I life goals hashtag last goals, not there yet, but I love thinking about it. I like that word central and the idea that you can move through the world and take pleasure in it instead of. Like we talked about in the very beginning, this idea of productivity productivity, that there are things here for us to enjoy and to feel, and to feel on a deep, a deeper level than a lot of us allow ourselves to feel.

[00:48:23] The Takeaway

[00:48:23] So I think that's such a beautiful thought. Any last thoughts, takeaways, words for our listeners today.

[00:48:33] I would just end with I think that just recognizing that your body, your sensuality, your pleasure, your, your thoughts all of these things we've been talking about. They are yours right there. They're kind of like your birthright. , regardless of where we're born or where we are.

[00:48:55] We're all influenced by family, by culture, by religion, by government. And so it's just an invitation that I offer to really kind of think through critically. Where does all of that begin and end? In regards to me, some of that will never be able to separate because we're not islands. We were, oh there's, there's too much of us.

[00:49:23] It's like too integrated with our surroundings. And yet I think it's a good invitation to think. How many of these stories that I've brought into that are, that are kind of sifting within me in regards to sexuality are actual are really about me. Or have been planted there by the influencers that raised me.

[00:49:44] And, and what of that do I want to keep and what of that is not serving me anymore and where do I want to explore and pioneer outside of that so that I can both enjoy better sexual health for myself, but especially if I'm partnered or an interested in having a sexual relationship with another person that that can be a space.

[00:50:06] Pleasure joy and connection and intimacy.

[00:50:09] Thanks for joining me today. To get more nurturing around living in authentic life you can follow me on Instagram at just be your bad self. Your invitation this week? Do something to reclaim your sexuality. You can use any of Natasha's tips from this podcast episode, or if you identify as a woman and really want to do a deep dive sign up for the reclaiming female sexuality retreat. Where Natasha, we'll be teaching her entire reclaiming female sexuality course and where we will be doing all kinds of amazing activities centered around befriending your body, shedding sexual shame. And claiming your power as a sensual being, you can get more information on my website. Just be your best

[00:50:55] Remember you are enough right now. In this moment. That's it from me. Now just be your bad self.

Natasha HelferProfile Photo

Natasha Helfer

Certified Sex Therapist

Natasha is a certified sex therapist who dedicates much of her work and focus on helping people recognize how to move into sex-positive spaces. She believes most people have been affected by sexual shame; whether from their familial, religious, or cultural upbringings. She wants to help people understand their potential for authenticity and pleasure through resources, education and experiential exercises.