We take growth very seriously and, at the same time, growth does not have to be heavy. It is possible to create a fun, free and playful environment where a person can bloom into who they were always meant to be. As an experiential sex and relationship coach, one of the most wonderful ways to create this with your clients and bring out their best selves is to flirt with them. At Somatica, we believe that people can best learn how to be connected and true to themselves in an authentic relationship and flirting is a great way to make the invitation for your clients to enter into that learning relationship with you. Flirting let’s your client know that you are open to connection with them and that the idea of that connection gives you pleasure.

To be sure, this is not about faking it, so it is important to find your authentic flirtatious self. Since we live in a very serious culture, where play and pleasure are thought of as trivial as opposed to essential human needs, it can be hard to find this flirtatious energy and even harder to bring out wholeheartedly. In Somatica, part of the training is getting in touch with this energy inside of you and learning how to lovingly share it. To begin to cultivate your flirting energy start with these 4 attitudes:

1. You are Always a Sexual Being – Part of the trivialization of sex and pleasure teaches us that we are only sexual when we are having sex, yet our sexuality is a part of us in every moment of our lives. Because men feel like they have excessive desire and women are slut-shamed, many women and men shut down their sexuality everywhere but during masturbation or sex with a partner. Shutting down your sexuality will likely have dire consequences for your long-term sexual connections, and it also robs you of the inspiration and power your erotic energy can provide in every moment. Attempts to shut your sexuality down can also lead to depression and/or creepiness (where repressed sexuality leaks out because of lack of self-awareness or self-acceptance). As you are walking around in your day-to-day life, see what it feels like to be on the street or in your car or at work, and just acknowledge to yourself “I am a sexual being right now.” See how that changes your demeanor, your energy, and your sense of self. No matter where you are you can feel your sexual energy and feel your own enjoyment of it. If you are in a place where there are receptive people (who are not your employees), you can share this energy with a flirt.

2. It is ok to Enjoy Yourself – Because we have all grown up in a society that has a work ethic as opposed to an ethic of pleasure, you may feel like it is not ok to enjoy yourself. Also, helping professions can often be problem-focused, meaning that we tend to look for negative “issues” to “work on”. In face, many of our clients come into session and say, “I tried to think of what to work on today, but I couldn’t think of any problems.” When they have worked with me us a while, they are more likely to say, “I’m ready to have fun today!” Sometimes, we enjoy ourselves so much in our sessions, our clients actually tease us saying, “I can’t believe you get paid for this.” This statement alone reveals how much our society believes in the idea that work that you get paid for is not supposed to also give you a great deal of joy and pleasure. When you embrace the idea that your work can be fun and playful and that more growth will actually happen when you and your client don’t take things so seriously (that, in fact, part of growth is not taking things so seriously), then you are ready to bring in flirting as a coaching modality.

3. Flirting is Just Flirting. When we talk about flirting as a coaching modality, there are always students who say, “But what if I am not attracted to the client?” We think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to flirt. To us, flirting means sharing playful, sexual energy to increase the enjoyment of an interaction with someone. It might lead to something more than flirting, it might not. It can be extremely freeing to realize that flirting does not require anything more than flirting.*

4. There is Something Beautiful and Enjoyable in Everyone. Once you have let yourself experience the freedom of flirting for the sake of flirting and interpersonal enjoyment, you are ready to sit in front of your client and take them in. When your client is in front of you, take a moment to really see the person who you are sitting across from and ask yourself what you find attractive, inviting, beautiful, or compelling about them. You might find there is something about their physicality, like the shape of their lips or their hands or their smile. You might like the sound of their voice, or the heartiness of their laugh. You might like the way they hold their body or cross their legs when they sit across from you. You might find their intelligence sexy or their kindness or even their nervousness or shyness. Whatever it is – something in their looks, personality, intellect, etc. – focus your attention towards that and use it as a bridge to bring your erotic energy and playfulness into connection with them. Most often we find that, as we flirt with our clients, their sexy sides start to show up and they become more attractive. It is also possible that flirting with them invites them to bring out a flirting style that does not appeal to us or is unlikely to appeal to anyone. This is when you want to help them better learn how to flirt with you so you can keep the energy going.

*If you are with a client with whom you are able to flirt but don’t feel a sense of attraction that would make you want to engage with them physically, it is your job as a practitioner to help them learn how to bring their erotic energy, touch, and words in ways that ignites your arousal and attraction.

Once you have cultivated some flirt-positive attitudes, the next step is to actually engage in flirting. This means not only knowing what flirting is, but finding your own flirting style. One fun way to look at flirting is to think of it as walking around the world having your own sexy party – feeling the ways that colors, sunshine, majestic views or beautiful architecture make you feel aroused – and then, when you engage with another human being, simply inviting them to join that party. It’s like saying, “Hey, over here, there’s a sexy party going on, wanna share in it?” The languages you use to make the invitation might be energetic, bodily or verbal. An energetic flirt can start with feeling your connection with your own sexual desire and then letting it exude out of your eyes, your heart and your pelvis. An embodied flirt might be a wiggle of your shoulders, a naughty smile or a wink and a verbal flirt could be a slight change in tone when you say, “mmmmm, it does feel a little warm in here, doesn’t it?”

Engaging in joyful, sexy, flirtatious interactions with your clients not only helps them feel more open and accepted, it also helps them clarify how they want their erotic and emotional connections so be. As we love to say: There are a thousand paths to enlightenment, might as well take the one that’s more pleasurable. If you want to learn how to make your life and work more flirtatious, come to a Somatic Intro Day or check out the Somatica Core Training.

More often than you might think, couples get in long-term relationships who have very different sexual desires. This is one of the many reasons that sex can cool down after the honeymoon period and, when couples have very different desires, it can lead to hurt, misunderstanding and a sexless marriage or relationship. When we work with couples, we always encourage them to have a Hottest Sexual Movie conversation. These conversations have some very specific rules to follow and you can help your clients navigate through them. Before talking about the rules, we want to make an important distinction between Hottest Sexual Movies and fantasies.

A Hottest Sexual Movie consists of the experiences people actually want to have. In addition to this, they may have a set of fantasies that they use to increase their arousal during sex or masturbation but that they don’t actually want to enact in the world. For example, a person can fantasize about group sex but have no interest in actually experiencing it. Fantasies that people want to think about but not experience may exist totally outside of their sexual relationship or they might express these fantasies to a partner in hopes of sharing this part of themselves and gaining acceptance and mutual arousal. For example, if your clients are playing with dominant/submissive dynamics they may want their partner to punish them for having this fantasy. Conversely, they may just want to use it for their own arousal and not share it. When you invite your clients into a Hottest Sexual Movie conversation, you will want to make the distinction between fantasies they might have that they don’t want to enact and those they do. Then, invite them to share both of these categories if they’d like.

You will need to let your clients know that sharing and teaching their hottest sexual movie will take self-awareness, conscious communication and non-judgmental acceptance. It will also require the ability to know and share boundaries and be willing to learn instead of feeling like they already need to know. Finally, it takes a whole lot of creativity. One word of caution, when it comes to sharing past experiences they’ve had with other lovers, be aware that this could trigger hurt. Help them be especially careful not to compare their partner to someone else with whom they’ve had amazing sex. Trust us, they will never forget this.

To help them describe their movies, ask them to picture the character(s), the action, the setting, and especially what they want to feel. While it is a beautiful gift to really dive into the role of guest star in a partner’s movie, let your clients know that they also have a right to decide which parts they are ready to try now, which parts they might want to add later, and which parts they may never do at all. Let them know that they might have more than one movie or might want to begin in one and move into another one. For example, a romantic seduction scenario may be what gets them started but when it comes to actually getting them off, more passionate, animalistic sex fits the bill. Sometimes the process of articulating these desires can open up new avenues of play and seduction.

Let your clients know that whatever they decide to share in as a result of these conversations is not set in stone. Negotiating sexual and relationship choices is an ongoing conversation that partners can always revisit and amend. In our book, Making Love Real, we go into greater depth as to how the process of discovering, sharing and finally acting out a hottest sexual movie can change relationships in lasting and amazing ways. If you’d like to find out more about how to coach your clients into fantastic sex and satisfying relationships you might want to check out the Somatica Core Training or attend a Free Intro to Somatica.

As you might imagine, people often come into our offices with a desire to improve themselves and perhaps you have this desire as well. You might want to be a better lover, figure out a way to stop making the same relationship mistakes, find ways to last longer, etc. Most people look at themselves as lacking or failing in some way and they want “advice” on how to change.

As coaches, it is our job to help our clients understand the difference between personal growth and self-improvement. In our minds, self-improvement is an external approach to change, one where people try to strategize about how to fix a problem or enforce a new regime on themselves. One of the biggest self-improvement industries is dieting. Recent research shows that dieting doesn’t work; in fact, the opposite result often comes from an attempt at dieting to lose weight. Those who diet generally gain weight in the long-run—more weight than those who did not ever diet to begin with. While the research shows that diets don’t work, they usually do not talk about why.

In our experience working with clients around transformation and growth, we have found that those who try to self-improve with some sort of externally enforced program generally go through a painful loop. There is initial energy and excitement as though succeeding in this particular goal (whatever it is) is the answer to changing their life. They start off with a bang—counting calories, running 7 days a week, going out to try to meet people. Pretty quickly, both the enthusiasm and the new regime go out the window; the client eventually goes back to their habitual behavior. The worst part of this self-improvement cycle is the next step, shame. Shame arises when people feel like they have failed and that they will never achieve their self-improvement goals.

The shame cycle can lead to critical thoughts such as, “I’m so lazy” or “I’m pathetic! I can’t do anything”. It can also lead to self-abuse/self-soothing. We put self-abuse and self-soothing in the same category because they are often just the same behaviors with different attitudes. For example, someone might smoke or get drunk thinking, “I don’t deserve to live. I hope this fucking kills me” or they might do it with the attitude, “Nothing is going to work, but at least I can temporarily feel better.” Being stuck in a shame cycle is perhaps the least motivated, inspired, or transformative place a person can be. It is a place of frozenness, where people hide away, disconnect, and don’t want to move or be seen.

Another reason why self-improvement approaches don’t work is that they hit a core conflict around acceptance. When people try to follow external programs, they often end up feeling that they need to be some way other than the way they are in order to be loved. Since people’s deepest relationships need is to be loved for who they are, self-improvement crusades are generally not sustainable. The desire for acceptance eventually wins out.

As coaches, we want to help you and our clients see that they are not the problem. The attempt to force yourself to do something without looking at any underlying feelings, needs, fears, and motives is not very likely to result in change. We are creatures of habit out of necessity. Habits help us move through day-to-day life without having to question every action or decision so that we have enough bandwidth to face uncertainties and challenges when they arise. Habits can be slow to change, and are sometimes intractable. At the very least, change is generally incremental (as opposed to immediate) and we are lovable even in the midst of the fact that we all have habits that challenge our ability to experience intimacy and erotic connection.

Personal growth is a much different and gentler approach to change than self-improvement. In guiding people in their personal growth, we must keep in mind that the reason most people want to change is that they think it will get them something that they want, like love, sex, or success. As coaches we start with the premise that NO ONE IS PERFECT, so it stands to reason that imperfect people experience loving connection, sexual fulfillment, and success all the time. We help people get off the hamster wheel of self-improvement by beginning with self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. Many people fear that if they accept themselves in their “currently-flawed condition”, it will demotivate them to make positive improvements in their life.

We have found that the truth is quite the opposite. The more a client feels loved and accepted, the more we can help them laugh at the ridiculously unmeetable requirements parents, society, and their projections of other’s perfection put on them; the more we vulnerably share our own challenges and struggles; and the more they come to love and accept themselves as a result, the less time they spend frozen in shame cycles. In addition to helping them accept themselves, we also help people accept that change is often slow and incremental.

As we teach people how to know what they need, how to listen, and how to share boundaries, we celebrate each incremental change heartily. For example, we might work with a client who, when triggered by their partner, reacts by attacking and yelling mean things. We can help by teaching self-soothing tools such as breathing or holding their inner child. The next time the client feels triggered and is able to react differently when as their blood is boiling, we, as coaches are giving them a high-five festival, a “you-didn’t-just-follow-your-first-reactive-response!” party, complete with hugs and party hats. As they grow, we continue to share how incremental and slow our own changes have been, and we love our clients even (wait, no, especially) when they fuck up. We help them remember that change is not a direct arrow upwards. It comes in fits and starts— two steps forward and one step back. We laugh and cry with them, and we share our humanness so that they can accept their own. Offering unconditional love, acceptance, and honesty is the job of a coach who wants to truly help their client grow. If you’d like to see how the Somatica Method can help you and your clients on a journey of personal growth, join us for a Free Somatica Intro Day or check out the Core Training.