Curious about how to overcome sexual repression and boost sexual self-esteem? Dr. Tara has you covered. She joins Jess to share her personal story of sexual empowerment — from shame to She also shares tips to improve sexual communication even if your partner isn’t 100% on board.
Dr. Tara is a Los Angeles-based sex and relationship expert, a tenured professor of sexual and relational communication (CSUF), and the viral sex ed creator at Luvbites.
Stay up to date with Dr. Tara by following her on her social media accounts. (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter). And take a listen the podcast Luvbites by Dr. Tara
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This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.
Improve Sexual Self-Esteem & Communication
[00:00:00] You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Sex and Relationship Advice you can use tonight.
[00:00:16] Jess O’Reilly: Hey, hey. I am without Brandon today, but I am going to be interviewing in just a moment. The fabulous Dr. Tara. She’s a tenured professor of relational and sexual communication at California State University Fullerton. She was tenured at a very young age at 33. She is an award-winning. Researcher, a sex and relationship coach.
[00:00:36] Jess O’Reilly: She is the host of Love Bys by Dr. Tara podcast, and there she focuses on sexual wellness and sex exploration. Her work is featured in all sorts of media. I’ve seen her on K T L A News, Cosmo Women’s Health Magazine, insider, and many more. And I’m excited to have this conversation and learn more about sexual self-esteem and sexual communication.
[00:00:58] Jess O’Reilly: Dr. Tara, thank you so, so much for being here. I watch you from afar on Instagram, on TikTok. I know you have, you have a master’s, you have a doctorate in interpersonal communication. Uh, tell me a bit about your story. How did you end up working in sexual communication?
[00:01:14] Dr. Tara: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited I follow you from afar as well, Dr.
[00:01:18] Dr. Tara: Jess. So I’m really excited to be here. Well, my story really started, we have to start it from the very beginning. I am originally from Thailand, Bangkok. Have you been? I’ve
[00:01:29] Jess O’Reilly: been, I love it. I have family there. It’s one of my favorite cities. Like I prefer the city to the beaches. Yeah.
[00:01:36] Dr. Tara: I swear people that know how to do Bangkok really love Bangkok.
[00:01:40] Dr. Tara: So that’s where I grew up. I went to an all girls Catholic school in Thailand where you know, As a woman, uh, you learn early on in life that your body is something that you shouldn’t, like advertise or be confident about. Uh, because we wore these [00:02:00] uniforms and our skirt has to cover our knees. Because, you know, knees are sexy.
[00:02:05] Jess O’Reilly: Every time I see a knee, I’m like, I wanna lick that thing.
[00:02:09] Dr. Tara: Yeah. So our skirt had to cover our knees, and if the skirt doesn’t cover the knees, we get hit on the hands. Oh. So imagine being like eight years old. That’s first grade. Right. And that was your learning about your body. And how you should exist in the world as a girl.
[00:02:27] Dr. Tara: You know, when I tell people this, some of my friends back home are like, oh, it doesn’t matter. Most schools have like uniform code, but I think it’s because they haven’t thought about it deeply. And I have, and I’m telling you, it does affect you when you are taught, when you are eight, that your body is provoking for some people and you are supposed to be covering it.
[00:02:52] Dr. Tara: So growing up I had mad like body image issues because I just don’t know, like. What I can show, what I can’t show. I wanna be a good girl, but I also was just very naturally sexually curious. I remember being like 11 and using the bidet on my clitoris like extra long because it felt good, but I didn’t know it was sex.
[00:03:11] Dr. Tara: So that was, that’s where, you know, I started this very repressed journey, but then I have to attribute my growth to two particular moments. One was when I went to Finland for high school and when I went to Finland, people didn’t give a damn about their bodies. They get naked. All the time to go into the sauna.
[00:03:30] Dr. Tara: Sauna. They’re always,
[00:03:31] Jess O’Reilly: they’re like, do you want to go in sauna with my mother, with my brother, with my, my future father? With my grandma? Yeah. You go on a first date and like you run into their brother and their mother at the sauna. I’m making this up. I don’t know these things. No, it’s
[00:03:44] Dr. Tara: true. I was there and people were so comfortable with their bodies.
[00:03:48] Dr. Tara: It’s like just a neutral thing. It doesn’t mean anything. Not negative, not positive, just. A body and they were so comfortable. So I remember in that moment I was like, okay, there’s something else out there that’s not [00:04:00] something I’ve been taught. And then the second moment was when I first came to America.
[00:04:05] Dr. Tara: When I first came to America, I came to Los Angeles and I mean, I. It’s one of the most sexually liberal cities in the world. Uh, I would say in America, at least, LA, San Francisco and New York are like the trifecta of super sexually liberal. And I just remember going to this sex toy shop where lo there lots of people were there.
[00:04:27] Dr. Tara: This shop was huge. It’s like an Apple store and everything’s out for tr, like for touching. Like you can touch this 12 inch dildo that has had like a ton of veins. I don’t know why people like dildos with a ton of veins, like I’m not a fan, but I just remember this was so out in the open and people were just like laughing and looking at stuff and touching, and we don’t have stuff like this in Thailand.
[00:04:50] Dr. Tara: If you’ve been to Thailand, Thailand has two sides. The tourism side, which sadly has sex tourism as like a really famous part, but that’s not the part where we grow up. Like Thai people grew up very conservatively, so I’ve never seen that. So from then on I was like, wow. So there’s a lot more outside of what I know and I knew nothing.
[00:05:10] Dr. Tara: So that kind of sparked my whole
[00:05:12] Jess O’Reilly: journey. That makes sense. So you’re talking about the neutrality of the body to begin with? Yeah, and then the, and then it’s potential for pleasure, which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the nudity itself. I think people often get that wrong around nudity.
[00:05:25] Jess O’Reilly: The idea that like, oh, if you’re naked, you’re all having sex. The sauna is not about that. How did you feel the first time you went to sauna? Like what did you do? Did you, did you get naked? Were you holding
[00:05:36] Dr. Tara: back? I had a t a little towel on my pussy. Yeah. Like I had a little towel on my velva, like I didn’t, I wasn’t sure what we’re all doing, but no one cared.
[00:05:46] Dr. Tara: So after a little bit, I kind of like took it off. It’s actually really
[00:05:49] Jess O’Reilly: interesting when you’re in a nude place. And you’re not nude cuz that happens to me then. You are the odd one now. Exactly. When I’m at desire, because I am working, oftentimes I’m just moving through [00:06:00] spaces so it’s not convenient to be naked, but I’ll go make an announcement at the pool and everybody’s naked and I feel so out of place.
[00:06:07] Jess O’Reilly: I hate it. And it’s like, you know, the hassle of taking off all my clothes and then putting back all, all my clothes to go into town or whatever. But we have made nudity strange when in fact it is our most natural state.
[00:06:18] Dr. Tara: Most natural state. I love that you said that there are so many things related to sex and sexuality that are just the most natural things, yet it becomes so unnatural through, you know, socialization and all these uh, uh, taboos that are from different.
[00:06:35] Dr. Tara: Religion.
[00:06:36] Jess O’Reilly: Right, and And around gender as well. Right? We assign certain holes to a certain sexual orientation or gender and pleasure is just pleasure. It doesn’t matter what your gender identity is. It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is. It’s just pleasure. So you came from Thailand. You talk about it as you know, your experience was that it was quite repressive.
[00:06:55] Jess O’Reilly: I’m curious how you found yourself working in sexuality. So I know your doctorate is actually in interpersonal communication, but your focus is on sex. So how did that happen? Was it the Vanney dildo sucked you in? It’s
[00:07:08] Dr. Tara: the Vanney dildo. Um, well, I wear three hats now. The first hat is a professor. I’m a tenured professor at Cal State University Fullerton and I teach sexual communication, relational communication, and quantitative research.
[00:07:22] Dr. Tara: So on Monday, Wednesday, just. If you wanna know my schedule, I teach four classes back to back. And then my second hat is sex and relationship coach. I have a private practice here in LA where I see clients on Tuesday, Thursday usually. And then my third hat is a PO sex positive influencer. I started making content on social media and I grew significantly on TikTok.
[00:07:44] Dr. Tara: Uh, with like over 2 million followers, mainly Gen Zs, cuz I’m like Gen Z, sex queen. Uh, but basically I started my third hand, which is a, a sex positive influencer because I feel like I could teach more [00:08:00] people outside of the classroom that I was already teaching for the last 10 years. So I was excited about that.
[00:08:05] Dr. Tara: My students really encouraged me to do that. Um, and my journey at the time, I have to. Tell you about my sexual awakening journey in relations to other things that I felt like a failure. So when I graduated, uh, my, with my PhD and I got my dream job as a tenure track professor, I was also getting married the first time.
[00:08:27] Dr. Tara: This is my second husband, but the first time I did not know myself. I was young. I did not know myself. I did not know what I truly wanted, even though I studied all those things in the PhD program, you know, in a personal relationships attraction, true attraction, uh, sexual communication, I just, I. Didn’t connect academia to like my personal experience.
[00:08:50] Dr. Tara: So I got married to someone that checked every box on the paper that I had the requirements, you know, and being Asian, I know you’re part Asian, right? Being Asian, like my parents. And they didn’t, they didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t wanna blame them, but just now they were taught, they were like, okay, you just have your, you just graduated.
[00:09:07] Dr. Tara: It’s time to get married, have kids, find a good husband and stick with him, be a good wife. Right? And. It sounds horrendous for some people, but it’s like they don’t say that out of bad intention. So I found a husband, we got married in six months, did not know the person well, because you know, you don’t know shit in six months.
[00:09:26] Dr. Tara: Right. So I was married and I was, you know, sadly that I, sadly they have to say this and I just, I am always bummed. I hope he doesn’t listen to it because he is such a good person. But I was miserable. And felt very much like a failure. Mm-hmm. Because I was going through a very unhappy marriage while teaching about happy marriages, so that, that like shook me, like my self-esteem was low because I’m not living the truth.
[00:09:55] Dr. Tara: And my sexual communication was rough [00:10:00] because at the time I wasn’t good at actually voicing, I know all the theories, but I wasn’t good at actually voicing it because now I, we’ll talk about this, but sexual communication, at least the effective ones come from high self-esteem. Mm-hmm. But I didn’t have that, so I was not good at talking about it.
[00:10:16] Dr. Tara: He wasn’t good. He, he had all kinds of things, so we ended up getting a divorce, but, Through that journey though, because it was so, so difficult, I ended up, you know, crying like once a week because I was so uncomfortable in that relationship. I, I went on my own spiritual journey and that’s where I found my sexuality.
[00:10:38] Dr. Tara: So I started praying every day. I started meditate. I was, I almost said masturbate, masturbating every day. I masturbated every day as well. But I started meditating every single day and I started journaling. So I started doing all these practices that both, um, the spiritual realm and also the positive psychology realm.
[00:10:59] Dr. Tara: Tells you that they’re good for you, especially when you’re trying to find yourself. So I started doing all these things listening to like, you know, motivational speeches and how other people have like found their sexuality. And through these practices, particularly like journaling and meditation, I felt more and more and more comfortable each time and that that has been years now and I do it every single day.
[00:11:22] Dr. Tara: And I would say, You know, moral of the story is wherever you are in life in terms of level of comfort when it comes to your sexuality and sexual communication, it’s never too late to start trying. Hmm. Because I mean, you know, fast forward to now, like, I’m one of the sexuality and relationship experts, you know, talking about it on social media, talking about it on the, the news segment, and I’m a huge advocate of talking about sex.
[00:11:53] Dr. Tara: Because of my previous marriage, I knew that that was terrible practice. And I just, you know, with this particular [00:12:00] marriage, like right now, we talk about everything. I’m extremely proactive. If any kind of feeling is bubbling, I speak about it immediately and I’m like, can we talk about it? Mm-hmm. And my partner is so good at like, yeah, I wanna, I wanna hear how you feel.
[00:12:17] Jess O’Reilly: And your newlyweds, congrats that you just recently were married. Were you dating while you were in the sex influencer space? Yeah, I was
[00:12:25] Dr. Tara: dating him, my current husband. But I also wanna talk about like, you know, our relationship set up because from that first marriage I learned that. I’m very curious and it will never go away.
[00:12:38] Dr. Tara: So actually now we’re in a monogamous marriage, so we are able to play with others based on previous communication expectations and rules. But yeah, we’re now, I’m in this relationship. I even though, you know, I’m married, but I feel
[00:12:55] Jess O’Reilly: so free and shouldn’t you always feel free right where you need that.
[00:12:59] Jess O’Reilly: Right. And that doesn’t mean that. Your version of freedom is my version of freedom is somebody else’s? No, it’s you. Be monogamous and free. Yeah. Or you can be monogamish as you said, or you can be polyamorous or another form of consensual non-monogamy. Okay. There’s so much I wanna ask you about. So one is the disconnect.
[00:13:15] Jess O’Reilly: Between knowing the theory and applying it in your life because as so-called experts, like we have to call ourselves experts cuz there’s no other succinct way to describe what we do, but we’re just humans who are imperfect and learning and screwing up. And I think that, you know, oftentimes for me, people think that Brandon and I have this like perfect relationship.
[00:13:36] Jess O’Reilly: And I’ll tell you, it’s a nice relationship. It’s easy. I am far, far, far from perfect. I can know what I’m supposed to do. I’m not supposed to do. I can know what is generally an effective way to communicate something. I can know that this will be a better way to respond in an intense moment. And in that moment, I screw up, I blow up, I yell, I scream, I pout, I withdraw.
[00:13:57] Jess O’Reilly: So from your end, [00:14:00] if you’re learning about a specific theory or skill, how do you make sure that you’re applying it in your life? Like how do you bridge that disconnect? Because anybody listening, you know, there are plenty of people who have listened to all 300. Episodes of our podcast and have listened to your podcast, but it doesn’t mean they can apply it in life.
[00:14:15] Jess O’Reilly: So how do we bridge the gap between the knowledge. And the
[00:14:18] Dr. Tara: application. You know, that’s such a good question and I wonder about this all the time when people listen to my advice or the experts that are on my podcast, like, are you doing this or are you just listening and understanding like you are aware but you’re not doing it.
[00:14:34] Dr. Tara: And I can refer back to some research, but also my personal experience of when I started trying, like actually applying was for me, it was when I felt. At like the lowest point of my relationship and really like self-concept, right? But I don’t think it takes rock bottom for everyone to start trying. So the trick that I did was I set a small goal for myself of applying certain knowledge and then I consistently do it for that amount of time of the goal that I’m setting.
[00:15:07] Dr. Tara: And I never set like huge goals for those particular things because I know in positive psychology research that when you set. Huge goals and you can’t do it. It reduces your self-esteem. And I’m a huge self-esteem like enthusiast, like I always wanna know what else, increase your self-esteem. And I found that making small goals and accomplishing daily is a great.
[00:15:30] Dr. Tara: Way to start making something a habit. So if you are listening to Dr. Jess and you’re like, okay, make sure that you say positive things about your body every single day, then you start setting like, okay, this week, just seven days. Okay? Like, don’t start with like, for the rest of my life I’m gonna do this, but this week.
[00:15:49] Dr. Tara: I’m gonna say one positive thing about my body every single day in the mirror just this week, and see what’s up. Having someone holding you accountable helps too. If you have resources and you [00:16:00] wanna get, you know, a sex relationship coach, or maybe with a friend or a partner, like, Hey, this week let’s both say these things about ourselves.
[00:16:10] Dr. Tara: Um, maybe with another person present. So that they keep you accountable. So external accountability can help, but also internally, like setting small goals and sticking to it can help because after that first round of saying positive things about your body, every single day for seven days, your brain automatically feels accomplished because you’ve just done what you set out to do.
[00:16:30] Dr. Tara: Then it becomes so much easier in the reward system of your brain, like, oh, I can do this. Like, I’m really good at this. So I might try the next time for two weeks
[00:16:41] Jess O’Reilly: in a row and see what’s up. That makes sense. And I mean, even when we apply that to sex, for example, sometimes you just have to give it a try.
[00:16:47] Jess O’Reilly: Touch yourself, see what feels good, even if you’re not in the mood. But if you can say, you know what, what I’m going to do is I’m gonna fantasize just for like 30 seconds. Right. Just do it for 30 seconds. I know that people who get really deep into self-development are like, oh, you’re gonna do this for two hours a day.
[00:17:04] Jess O’Reilly: Or even with meditation, you said you meditate. Well, I can’t. If people can just, you know, try it for a minute, they’re more likely to do it for two, or for three or for four. The, the dentist always say, you don’t have to floss all your teeth. Just promise me you’ll floss one. Because once you floss one, the floss is already in your hand.
[00:17:19] Jess O’Reilly: You want to floss the rest of them. So breaking it down exactly. Into small parts. Makes so much sense. Now you mentioned self-esteem. What do we need to know to build up our sexual self-esteem? What can we do?
[00:17:31] Dr. Tara: Yes, thank you for asking this question. I’m really excited. So, um, last year I conducted a 5,000 participant study and I looked at variables that are more intrapersonal.
[00:17:42] Dr. Tara: So intrapersonal communication and interpersonal communication. I’m looking at different variables to see what is like a group of variables that strongly predict long-term sexual satisfaction. And here’s what I found. The first thing is sexual self-esteem. It’s [00:18:00] almost like the base is, it has the most for nerd talk.
[00:18:03] Dr. Tara: The va, it has the most variance. So like it’s. It explains the most. Sexual satisfaction and sexual self-esteem is a little bit hard to explain because even in academia, the definitions are kind of like everywhere. But I think the questions, um, that they ask are a little bit easier to understand because that’s how I understood it.
[00:18:23] Dr. Tara: So how. Positive, do you feel about your own sexuality? Right? Is it leaning positive? Is it leaning negative? Is it leaning neutral? And then how worthy do you feel of receiving pleasure? And you have to think about it a little bit, like how worthy do I feel receiving pleasure? I’m off
[00:18:44] Jess O’Reilly: the charts on that one.
[00:18:46] Dr. Tara: Yeah, I bet. I bet. I bet you have really high sexual self-esteem.
[00:18:50] Jess O’Reilly: No, just on the worthy of receiving pleasure part. And I, that really makes me think of the intersectionality and how identity affects our perceived self-worth around. Sexuality and pleasure. Right. So like have you, were you told that as a woman you were deserving of pleasure or that you were supposed to give pleasure?
[00:19:09] Jess O’Reilly: Were you told that your body type was deserving of pleasure or was deserving of being disparaged or disrespected? Like all the different layers really tie in here
[00:19:18] Dr. Tara: so many layers. I was just talking to a sex expert the other day who said like, Men expect fat women to put out mm-hmm. Because of like your body.
[00:19:28] Dr. Tara: And I was like, really? And she’s like, oh yeah. Happens all the time. If you’re talking to a guy and you’re a fat woman, they just like expect that you’ll be easier. Hmm. Like, wow. And you know, and talking about intersectionality, like if. We wanna really bring every variable in attractiveness is a huge part, right?
[00:19:46] Dr. Tara: Like at at least like what is beauty standards in that culture and like where you’re from, because where I’m from in America is kind of different. Like Thai people don’t like big asses, so it’s different here. You get B, B L so that [00:20:00] you have a big ass and you’re more desirable. But the beauty standard of where you’re from tend to become like internalized beauty desires.
[00:20:09] Dr. Tara: Right. Like, why is Ozempic so huge? Because everyone wants to not eat and lose weight because the only way to be pretty is to be thin. Right? Or
[00:20:20] Jess O’Reilly: in our culture. Yeah. And all those messages are so harmful, right? So harmful. So harmful, and, and they hurt everyone. You sometimes think that, oh, if you fall into the circle, you’re rewarded.
[00:20:30] Jess O’Reilly: And in some ways you are. But like to, for your, for your worth to be contingent on your body. To begin with is such a scary thing and that’s what I, why I liked you opening with neutrality, right? You don’t have to love every part of your body. You don’t have to think all positive things. It’s nice to think some positive things, right?
[00:20:48] Jess O’Reilly: Especially when it comes to pleasure and function and we live in a culture that that really just profits of telling us we’re not good enough. Um, sometimes in my sessions I’ll ask people to name. What they like about their body and it, they are so embarrassed and they are so ashamed. Like I can tell you all the things I like about my body, and I guess that is probably tied to sexual self-esteem.
[00:21:10] Jess O’Reilly: So as difficult as it is to define how do we build up our sexual self-esteem, you mentioned that you were journaling, that you were meditating as part of your journey. Where can people begin if they feel like their sex sexual esteem is, you know, a little bit low right now? What can they do?
[00:21:25] Dr. Tara: Yeah, so there’s lots of research from the University of British Columbia, from Dr.
[00:21:31] Dr. Tara: Lori Brak. There’s also research from other universities, plus like there’s so many books now on like positive psychology and how to build your sexual self-esteem. So, My favorite thing to do is meditation, particularly sexual meditation. And sexual meditation is similar to regular meditation practice, but it focuses on sexual thoughts, uh, feelings and sensations in the body.
[00:21:55] Dr. Tara: Uh, you can do this quietly if you have, you know, five, 10 minutes quietly and think about, [00:22:00] uh, positive sexual thought that you can have, or maybe even fantasize, like you said, like maybe just. Fantasize about something that can be helpful. But if you find that difficult, I have a free guided sexual meditation on YouTube.
[00:22:12] Dr. Tara: If you just search like Love Bites by Dr. Tara, that’s the first thing that comes up. And I have a five minute one, a 10 minute one, a solo one, a couple one. So if you wanna do it alone, do it. If you wanna do it with your partner, you can do that one too. And, uh, it’s for different topics, like, like it could be for like body image, for sexual empowerment, for, you know, but it focuses on that thought.
[00:22:34] Dr. Tara: And then you do the meditation with it. And I’m a big fan because of my personal discovery and all the research that I’ve read. So I highly recommend if you don’t like quiet meditation, you can listen to my guided meditation and basically just do what you’re told. It’s very easy to like, you know, tune out and tune in.
[00:22:51] Dr. Tara: Like to just when someone tells you what to do for five minutes, and that’s my favorite thing to do to maintain my sexual self-esteem.
[00:23:01] Jess O’Reilly: And it’s just five minutes. Just five minutes, literally, I will link to those. I actually did see them on YouTube. Uh, before you talk about journaling, what are they gonna hear In a meditation?
[00:23:10] Dr. Tara: Yes. So I will say a third of this is relaxing and getting comfortable in your body. Which is very important. The second, third is breathing because we all know sex and sexuality. A lot of it is breathing. Some people can do breath work and come, which I’m like, yes, yes girl.
[00:23:28] Jess O’Reilly: I’m so glad that’s not me, cuz I’d get nothing done.
[00:23:30] Jess O’Reilly: What are you doing? Breathing? Just leave me alone doing breath work. I just need one more minute. I’m just, you’re breathing like, Hey,
[00:23:37] Dr. Tara: you responding to my emails? Like, oh no, I’m doing breath work.
[00:23:40] Jess O’Reilly: I’m just breathing. Nothing. Nothing to see here.
[00:23:44] Dr. Tara: So, well, then you might feel really orgasmic during this breath work portion.
[00:23:48] Dr. Tara: And then the third portion is a certain exercise. So if it’s like a sensation one, then it’s like now you’re allowed to touch your nipples and then you’re like touching your nipples. Uh, you’ll. Um, massage your [00:24:00] nipples for 30 seconds and it’s kind of like a countdown. And then now you’re, uh, invited to touch your pubic area and then you touch that area.
[00:24:07] Dr. Tara: So that’s the body sensation one. There’s also a positive sexual affirmations, one where you’re talking to yourself positively about different aspects of your sexuality and your body. And yeah, there’s couples one that’s really fun. That’s more about like sexual commitment to one another. You and Brandon should do it.
[00:24:25] Dr. Tara: We should. You’ll love it. Should we should. We’ll
[00:24:26] Jess O’Reilly: give it a try. I’m sorry he’s not here today. But I think the piece around the positive thought or the positive statement, like even just being able to sit in or remo ruminate on, if some people aren’t comfortable with the word, word, meditation, you know, I’m deserving of pleasure.
[00:24:40] Jess O’Reilly: My body’s deserving of pleasure. My body gives me, Pleasure to just take a line like that and take some deep, slow breaths. And you mentioned that the effects are felt over time, that even today you’re still doing it. I think that’s a really important piece, that you didn’t just figure it out and you’ve arrived, you continue to invest in the meditation.
[00:25:00] Jess O’Reilly: And then you also mentioned journaling.
[00:25:02] Dr. Tara: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I, I journal every single day and then I commit to three sentences every day. And I’m, I’m really the queen of small goals cause I’m like, I can’t commit to writing the whole page, but I know I have time and I make time to sit down, drink my coffee and write three sentences at least.
[00:25:22] Dr. Tara: Right. So usually in these three sentences, it’s like reflecting on what I’m grateful for, but then one sentence is always about my sexuality. So it could be, you know, as simple as like, I love my pussy, or, you know, I’m, uh, uh, thankful of the orgasm this morning. Or I like my tummy. In just one sentence of whatever body image, sexuality, and then the other two sentences I usually reflect on the day before and say what I’m grateful for.
[00:25:51] Dr. Tara: And that has been honestly just life changing for me. Um, because before, you know, I have heard of people doing [00:26:00] journaling and I’ve, I’ve done this now. Almost five years. But before I’ve heard, I mean, in grad school, I’ve heard of lots of people doing journaling, but I, I was like, eh, I’m not a fan. You know, like I don’t need to be writing things down to know that life’s good, that I’m grateful.
[00:26:14] Dr. Tara: But then I realized through starting to do it was, there’s a difference between thinking like, okay, I am grateful versus like actually putting it on paper. Hmm. For me, that portion of putting it on paper, Almost like make it, it made it more real. Mm-hmm.
[00:26:33] Jess O’Reilly: Mm-hmm. And you can go back to it.
[00:26:35] Dr. Tara: Yeah. And read it.
[00:26:36] Dr. Tara: It’s very powerful. One of the things I wrote down was from Gabby Bernstein. I listened to her podcast and I like, like just the way she describes SP spirituality and the one thing that she loves talk saying is focus on what’s thriving. Hmm. And I wrote that down like big letters on my, on the paper. And sometimes when I have a hard day, I go back and I look at that page like, focus on what’s thriving.
[00:27:01] Dr. Tara: Because if you really dig, you know that there’s at least one thing. There’s definitely more, but at least one thing that’s going well in your life. Mm-hmm. You know, maybe you are alive and you have all the limbs. Maybe you know, you had a good poop that day.
[00:27:18] Jess O’Reilly: Oh God, now you’re getting at my issues. So important.
[00:27:21] Jess O’Reilly: And now you’re getting at
[00:27:21] Dr. Tara: my issue. You’re traveling a lot, so I assume that that’s, that could be a problem. I don’t wanna talk about a
[00:27:28] Jess O’Reilly: doctor. I’m not talking about it. I have such issues with poop. I need to go see like a real, I need to go see a psych. Yeah, a poop psychologist about that. But I love all of this.
[00:27:39] Jess O’Reilly: I feel like there’s so much to take away here for people to start, whether it’s a meditation, and it could be a guided meditation from your Love Bites YouTube channel, or it could just be picking a line that you wanna focus on and breathing to it. I love the prompt of focus on what’s thriving because. I think about easy, like for example, I look around me and my plants are thriving and they bring me so [00:28:00] much joy.
[00:28:00] Jess O’Reilly: They, they thrive on neglect cuz I’ve been away for nine days and I come home and my orchids are absurd. So they are so much happier when I’m gone. But it’s so easy to think about what’s thriving and like that plants aren’t, you know, maybe my mental health or my family or other things, but. That’s just what came to mind right now.
[00:28:18] Jess O’Reilly: Maybe cuz I see them on, on screen while we’re chatting. Yeah. But that’s really, really beautiful. So we’ve got the meditation, we’ve got journaling, we’ve got different prompts. Uh, I have to let you go. I know you’re, you’re super busy, but if you could just give us a little bit of advice on how to be sexual communicators, how would you sum that up?
[00:28:36] Dr. Tara: Hmm. Okay. I think being an effective sexual communicator is understanding where you’re coming from and what is the baseline of your partner. Hmm. And I know this, it takes a little bit to unpack, but there’s, uh, in communication, there’s this concept called sexual communication discomfort and sexual communication competence.
[00:29:00] Dr. Tara: Right. I think people make mistakes when they assume that their partner’s communication discomfort is at the same level as them. Mm-hmm. And they have this expectation, which is destroyed of, violated by the fact that your partner’s not ready. Um, they’re, they don’t have the same level as you. Uh, so if you have high discomfort, you’re most likely gonna be very anxious talking about any sex topic.
[00:29:27] Dr. Tara: If you have low discomfort, you’re more comfortable, but it doesn’t mean that you are effective. So the other, uh, concepts, sexual communication, competence is how good you are at communicating about sex. And this involves being able to read your partner and communicate to your partner how comfortable they are.
[00:29:47] Dr. Tara: At this level. So I know it’s a little complex, but I think the very basic start is asking them directly, how comfortable are you talking about sex? And if [00:30:00] it’s hard to explain, maybe go from one to 10, how would you rate your sexual communication skill? This question allows for two people to be open and vulnerable and really understand where each other’s levels are.
[00:30:16] Dr. Tara: Cuz if your partner was like, you know what? I’m not gonna lie. I’m a two then, you know? Okay, let’s work on that. Right, and you’re not expecting certain things.
[00:30:25] Jess O’Reilly: I really appreciate that. To me, it takes the hierarchy away between, I’m super comfortable and my partner is super uptight because if you have competence, if that is the other side of the coin, your competence allows you to not judge your partner and meet them where.
[00:30:40] Jess O’Reilly: They’re at, because that’s such, I see that as a dynamic all the time. We’re like, well, I’m really comfortable and I’m really open, but my partner isn’t. And sometimes it’s rooted in like blaming the partner’s family or judging the partner’s culture, which can be super ethnocentric. And so I like to go back to maybe they’re not uncomfortable.
[00:30:58] Jess O’Reilly: Maybe they’re uncomfortable with how you
[00:30:59] Dr. Tara: approach it. Yes, yes, yes.
[00:31:02] Jess O’Reilly: How can you approach this differently? What is it about your approach that is eliciting a discomfort response? And I’m not saying it’s one person’s fault, it’s a dynamic that’s created. Yeah. Together. But I love that we’re looking at two sides, the competence as well as the discomfort.
[00:31:19] Jess O’Reilly: Because then you can use, you know, high competence to attenuate, low discomfort. Yeah. And vice versa. And we’re not, you know, In a static state of comfortable or uncomfortable, sometimes I’m comfortable, sometimes I’m not. Some topics make me comfortable. Some topics. Trigger me more. And so we have to get really specific about it,
[00:31:38] Dr. Tara: don’t we?
[00:31:39] Dr. Tara: Yeah, for sure. Because like my partner could be very comfortable talking about his penis, but not comfortable talking about having a swing with another couple.
[00:31:49] Jess O’Reilly: Exactly. Exactly. And I guess the big question is for most of us is how do we get the judgment out of it? Right? Like how do we stop judging ourselves?
[00:31:56] Jess O’Reilly: How do we stop judging others and judgment being tied to shame? I [00:32:00] think you’ve given some really great suggestions here, judgment to shame. Shame rooted in oftentimes a lack of self-esteem, and so you’ve given us all these options to build up our self-esteem while, first of all, say thank you so much for being here.
[00:32:13] Jess O’Reilly: Thank you for
[00:32:14] Dr. Tara: Having me. This has been an orgasmic conversation.
[00:32:17] Jess O’Reilly: It was the breathing right, it’s the breathing. I’m still breathing and really challenge people to think about how can you, what can you do? What tiny little thing can you do to build your self-esteem up today? One meditation, one line in a journal, one.
[00:32:33] Jess O’Reilly: Little conversation, uh, or maybe it’s something more visual. If you don’t like to journal, you could be drawing something as well. So thank you so much for helping us to build our self-esteem. Thank you for all the work you do online around communication. I’m gonna put all of your links, including your meditations in the show notes, and folks will be following along.
[00:32:49] Jess O’Reilly: Yay. And thank you for listening. As I said, I’m sharing all those links, but I also think this is a great opportunity to get more in the moment via our Mindful Sex Video course. So please do check that out. Mindful sex happier couples.com. You can save with Code podcast because you’re a listener. Do check it out.
[00:33:11] Jess O’Reilly: I think it’s, you know, when I go through a program like this, and I have to admit it’s been a little while, I need to go back to some of these. Ongoing practices, but whenever I do the breathing exercises, the visualizations, the communication exercises, the physical exercises, I feel so much more at ease with myself, more definitely more comfortable in my body, but also more connected to Brandon.
[00:33:33] Jess O’Reilly: So this is a program that you can do on your own or with a partner or partners, happier couples.com. Check out Mindful Sex and wherever you’re at today, I hope your self-esteem is growing and growing.
[00:33:47] You’re listening to The Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life, improve your life.
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