Simply put, it’s a good thing to be comfortable with your body. It makes physical intimacy in your relationship much less anxiety-provoking and so much more enjoyable. After all, when you’re getting physical with your significant other, you want to focus on feeling good, not feeling trapped in your head with negative thoughts. But if you don’t feel comfortable naked, I want to assure you that you’re not alone. Even models and professional athletes struggle with body issues, and I know this for a fact because I’ve had them as clients in my office. The real goal for all of us is not to learn to love our bodies as if they’re perfect but rather to tell ourselves that they’re good enough. If we were assigning grades, for example, the ideal is to say, “I’m a B+ or better.”
Now, the cold hard truth: To get more comfortable, you’re going to have to do some work. Like any change that requires improving your self-esteem, you’re going to have to practice. If you do the work and try the techniques below, I promise that you will begin to feel more comfortable au naturel.
Start at the gym.
I’m not suggesting that you walk out of the locker room in your birthday suit. While that may kick-start the change in a flash, it may also land you a weekend stay in county jail. I am suggesting that you practice being naked in the locker room while you’re at the gym. This is a great, safe place to practice being naked because everyone is going to be naked in the locker room sooner or later. Rather than cloak yourself entirely behind a towel or clothes, give yourself permission to fully take your clothes off by your locker prior to taking the walk to the shower. When you first try this exercise, focus on standing naked for a moment. Ultimately, the brass ring of comfort with nudity is to be able to walk all the way to the shower in the nude, holding your towel in front or to the side of you. If you can learn to be more comfortable naked in the locker room, I assure you that you will find that you feel more comfortable taking it all off in the bedroom with your love.
Spend time naked at home.
Some men and women are full-blown nudists, even cooking or cleaning in the nude. I don’t know about you, but that’s a bit of a stretch for most of us. Yet spending some time in the nude at home on a regular basis is a requirement if you are truly committed to becoming more comfortable naked. Start practicing in the bedroom as you conduct your nightly hygiene routine or get ready in the morning. When you first start this exercise, don’t try to stare at yourself in the mirror for long periods, but rather peer in the mirror for a second and then resume your usual activities. The more frequently you take a one or two-second look, the longer you will feel comfortable gazing a bit more later.
Talk to yourself out loud when you look in the mirror.
The idea is to see yourself naked in the mirror and to feel physically attractive and sexually appealing. The good news is that you don’t have to have a traditionally perfect body to be attractive or sexy because all the fish in the sea have different body types to which they’re attracted. Looking at yourself in the mirror and loving what you see may take some time, so the short-term goal is to tell yourself that you’re not unattractive. If seeing yourself naked in a full-length mirror is too uncomfortable at first, start by experimenting with a hand-held mirror and look at a few parts of your body. Reassure yourself out loud with any of the following phrases: “Who said this body was supposed to be perfect?;” “There’s more than one body type that’s attractive.”
Homework before you go
Before you stop reading and move on to whatever’s next in your day, review the few suggestions here and commit to trying one of them today. People make a huge mistake by waiting to make changes until all the stars are aligned, but the real way to initiate change is to start chipping away at your problems little by little. For example, my cross to bear is high-strung nerves or anxiety that courses through me like a lazy river, and the way I work on it is to do a few minutes of yoga whenever I get the chance. Why just a few minutes? If I waited until I committed to a full hour, it simply may never happen. Try the same approach with being naked and you will reap the rewards before you know it.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.