I was honoured to have a really deep interview with Haley Helveston from the US on Instagram Live a few weeks ago. In fact, I loved the interview so much I had it transcribed.
We talk being a high achiever, permission, anxiety, pressure, orgasms and even money.
Like I said, I loved this talk and I hope you do too!
Haley: I’m going to start with asking you, what is the biggest problem that you see in your clients?
Lauren: Yes. Okay. The biggest problem I see in my clients is they come to me because they just don't “get sex”. I'm using inverted commas, because I'm not talking about getting sex, like physically but having sex as a concept psychologically, they just don't logically connect to that.
So, some of the first words that they use with me in that first session is, "I just don't get sex, I feel no confidence around sex, I'm avoiding it, I feel even anxious about, preoccupied - takes up a lot of my head space, how I can avoid it, strategising, feeling guilty about strategising, and…”
Haley: Wait, avoiding it?
Lauren: Yep. The energy that's behind and the amount of energy it takes up, in terms of thinking about avoiding it, working out how she can avoid it, and then actually avoiding it. It worked for so long and now it's just taking on a whole other costs. That's normally the issue. So, they just want to connect with sex, and the way to connect with their partners, and feel confident.
Haley: Wow. Okay. So, do you only work with women or do you work with men and women?
Lauren: I only work with women in my practice. That was a decision I made very early on. After years of working in really taboo areas of health like, mental health, and drugs, and alcohol, I just sort of like this is gonna be my own offering, because they're all government services. I thought this is gonna be my own offering, and I really just want to focus, and do exactly what I want to do, and serve who I want to serve. So, I made that decision very early on and I just haven't looked back. I just love serving women and I find female sexuality to be the most endless topic in the world.
I never stop learning. I learn every session from a client. I learn, I just have another, oh, I didn't realise that was a thing and how can we problem solve that. It's just incredible.
Haley: Oh wait, can you explain what you do real quick for those that are watching from my audience? Just explain that you're a sexologist and what that entails.
Lauren: So, I'm a qualified sexologist. That's a real thing. It sounds a little bit like a made up term, like I'm a something-ologist but, it's definitely real. I was a nurse by trade and I stumbled across Kurt University's Sexology Program, which is a graduate diploma. You can go onto your Master's and PHD, even in sex. I completed that qualification and that allowed me to practice as a sexologist. I've bent upon all of my years of working, talking to people about really just stressing personal taboo concerns, and I had a postgrad degree in counselling. I felt by the time I completed my sexology degree, I felt really comfortable going into a one to one space and offering groups to women.
Haley: Cool. So, tell us about your book cause, I'm super excited about that!
Lauren: A year ago, I was going through a bit of a quiet patch in my business. The quiet patches, if anyone's watching this that has a business, it's so easy to get down and deflated about the quiet patches and to take them very personally. Honestly, I had all these workshops booked that just got canceled. I had all this stuff that I thought I was gonna do that just got canned. My ego wanted to have a field day with that but, rather than having a field day with that, I ended up sitting down at a café on the 1st of September last year and the idea for my book, Permission came through.
Because, I had space because, all these other offerings I was going to do got cancelled, I ran with that and it's almost just like the doors opened to write that book and to have that flow through me. That was the most enjoyable project I've ever done in my life and that is my new barometer for, if it doesn't feel as good as Permission did then, I'm gonna question if I'm gonna do it. It just felt so good to write and I love writing anyway.
Writing is a big part of my identity and I really wanted to capture, I really wanted to write a book to capture women who are in the dark, who are in their bedroom, maybe looking on their Kindle like I do sometimes. A lot of times looking for the next thing to read and not necessarily wanting to do a session or a workshop or a course, just wanting to just absorb something at their own time when they're ready at their own pace.
It was such a joy to be able to provide that because, so many other women have provided that solace for me. The book is called Permission - it's really just saying, you can give yourself the green light to be sexual.
You can turn up as you are, rather than trying to be something that you're not, whether you are a high achiever, whether you're an academic, whether you love your analytical world, no matter what us good girls, smart girls, gotta be the best girls, have a place to feel sexual. It doesn't have to feel so incompatible. Just because we love our work, we love our goals, and our checklists and things like that, doesn't mean that we can't be sexual, that can be completely compatible. Rather than feeling like, I'm like this all the day from working from my head and then sex asks me to drop into my body and that just feels like the gap is too big.
Haley: Oh, my gosh, I love that you said that. My friend, Amanda, said that's me! That is so many of us because, we're so go, go, go in our masculine energy and then it's so hard to switch over.
Lauren: Yeah. Lots of women say to me, "I just want to switch off." And it's like, we're working with these polarities of I'm all on, I'm switched on in the day, and I want to switch off in sex. I'm trying to just, arousal exists in the middle of sign of that, quite interestingly enough. We can't be completely switched off and be in arousal because, then we're asleep.
I'm asking that we just go, okay, own who you are, own what you like, don't try to be a wild woman if it doesn't feel you. Scrap tantra, scrap the toys, scrap all that shit if it's just adding stress and taking you out of your body, and causing you to check out. Just deep breaths, down regulate a little, complete the stress cycle, and come back to sex as you are.
Haley: I love that.
Lauren: It's truly liberating, right?
Haley: Yeah, that is amazing. So, you have problems, I think you mentioned this before, about women being so anxious that they can't really enjoy the moment? Is that because they're so go, go, go, that when they finally get to that point it's like uh…
Lauren: Yep, exactly. So, life is go, go, go, they're go, go, go and it's almost sex feels like, oh, I just want my brain to shut off. I just want my brain to go quiet, I just want to not be thinking anymore, and the thing is because, we haven't come into our state of down regulation and just really go uh, our brain is still going. That's really a lot of the medicine in just going, I don't want your brain to switch off cause, that's just too big of ask if your brain is kind of on all the time, I get that. Let's just ask your mind to take a back seat for 30 minutes, 40 minutes and let your body say what it wants for a little while. Let your heart say what it wants for a little while. It's not about swinging a pendulum from one extreme to the other cause, it's just too hard. It's just too far away from our identities.
Haley: Yes, definitely. Like in terms of meditation, is that what you offer?
Lauren: Yes. Meditation. I call it anchoring in because, that to me is very getting solid in our base, having our feet on the floor, letting our bellies relax, releasing some of the tension in our groin, cause I know for me, over the years before I started learning about sex, my groin is often in a state of contraction.
Haley: Is it anxiety? What is that?
Lauren: Yeah, it's definitely a form of anxiety and a form of anticipation, like what's coming next, what's coming next.
In that braced position, almost like you're ready to fight, and respond, and react. That's a big trait of high achievers is that, we're like, we're here but, we're also anticipating the next things so that we can problem solve so, that we don't feel stress but, then we weirdly just feel stressed and anticipating the problems that could come up.
Haley: That’s so true because, I feel that way and I'm a high achiever. I'm like, oh, my god. I'm not really in the present but, I'm not really in the future.
Lauren: Wow, we're normal, we're all normal and we all belong, by the way. We all belong here having these conversations, not trying to be wild woman and not trying to be not anxious, it's bring that anxiety into sex but, anxiety means that you care. It means that you have an investment. So, let's bring that anxiety in, use it constructively to gently problem solve some of what's going on in sex.
Haley: My friend says she has high anxiety. What would you say for that? Like a lot of fear. She said high anxiety and fears that are not real. What would your advice be?
Lauren: High anxiety and fear I take them to be real in that the body is having a response and the body's having a nervous response based on old memories, previous evidence, and even old trauma, let's be honest. I believe everyone has a form of trauma and if that doesn't resonate with you, that's okay.
Haley: I can agree with that.
Lauren: I'm not gonna tell you, you have trauma if you don't feel like you do. But, I feel like we've all got our old brain working, being activated, things that seems so innocuous, being activated by social media, by comparison, by not feeling enough, definitely powerless. So, I take them to be real in that the response is real in a creative physiological, it changes your physiological state. All I ask is, that when that feeling, that anxiety comes up, take it seriously and just invite yourself to come back down by what you said to yourself, what you would say to a friend?
We are our harshest critics. That's the truth about women. We are so judgmental up here, criticising ourselves, berating ourselves, self flagellating. Instead, let's try compression, bringing ourselves down, take a really good deep belly breathe, just holding our heart, holding our womb, whatever feels good for you, hugging yourself. Staying in that state isn't gonna help you feel better. It's just gonna keep you on edge and on guard. That would be my response, just take it seriously, treat it as real, because then I think you've got a better chance of moving onto what feelings it is that you want to feel.
Haley: So, you deal with a lot of women that come to you and they've never had an orgasm, or they're not able to have an orgasm?
Lauren: Yeah, that’s definitely component of my work. What I find with that, are you happy for me to speak to that one a little bit more?
Haley: Yes, definitely.
Lauren: When I find these woman who have struggled with orgasm and I've had very good outcomes with this one is that it's really a process of relearning, of moving out of habitual responses, and really ground regulating, really doing that stuff that I mentioned before. When attempts at orgasm are starting from a place of not good enough, it's not gonna happen, I've gotta keep pushing, I've gotta get there, this is gonna happen, my partner wants it to happen, I've got to show my partner how much I'm into it.
Haley: It's too much pressure…
Lauren: If it's coming from a place of proving and striving and achieving, that's gonna keep you in your head. That state takes you… imagine that the attention and everything is just existing from the neck up and your orgasm, as much as the brain has in orgasm, your orgasm originates from, most commonly, down here.
So, for as long as you stay up in your head, your orgasm's gonna be inhibited. I would even scale it back and go, you know what, if tying to orgasm is causing you lots of distress and you have a barrier to seeking help, speaking one to one with us, then maybe just take the pressure off and don't strive for it for a while. Just put it on the back burner of a while. Don't let, what is this heightened state of pleasure cause you tons of stress, that again is another concept that's incompatible for me.
So, when women step forward and say they want to orgasm, I really start with down regulation and self pleasure is an inevitable part of the process that I offer. Really getting a feel for being sexual on our own, first an foremost, we're our longest sexual relationship, really going into that space without being witnessed. Being witnessed is a really big form of pressure faults of women, like they're waiting for me, they're watching, they're like egging me on for this to happen. And that's like, ah pressure, performance anxiety.
Haley: Yeah, that is a lot.
Lauren: Do you find that as well with your clients?
Haley: Yes, definitely with a lot of people. Or, like I've heard into people where they get close and they stop themselves.
Lauren: Yeah. It's just, take the pressure off. Go for it if you want but, don't let it cause you, once again, don't let the whole moving towards it cause you lots of stress and anxiety.
Haley: I love how you say, just take a break from it. We live in such a society that's so goal focused, and even sex has the goal focus, you know?
Lauren: And we've got to check in with whether it's our goal or someone else's goal, that we orgasm.
Lauren: Do we want it for us or do we want it for the benefit of someone else?
Haley: Wow, that's powerful. What do you think it is?
Lauren: It can depend. Something that my clients say to me is that, towards the end of their process or at the end, they say, "I came in because I had this problem and I wanted to solve this problem in the bed with my partner but ended up finding this empowerment, that was just for me, this peace that was just for me." And I was just like, "Yeah, that's it. Your orgasm for you, don't orgasm for someone else."
Haley: Yes, that's so good. I find that a lot of women are say, that person gave it to me. You give it to yourself.
Lauren: Yeah. You give it to yourself. You seek it for yourself, you give it to yourself, you use it as a form of acknowledgement for yourself. Sex is so self-centred, we can get that, that's not to say it's selfish, it's self-centred. We are intrinsically driven to go to sex because it generates something that feels good for us and it's really beautiful when people go into a form of selflessness in sex. But, we can get lost in selflessness and get lost and go, there pleasure's first, their pleasure's a priority.
Receiving is all of a sudden really uncomfortable for me and all of a sudden, that beautiful act of selflessness and generosity has meant a loss. Really just check your intentions and check that you're doing it for you because, that would give your partner so much pleasure when you're doing for you, and doing it cause it feels good, and because it feels right.
Haley: Yes, I love that you said that, because I think there's so much pressure around female sexuality and so much, you know, it's really good. I think so many women are not able to receive. It's like, if you can't receive in bed, are you gonna be able to receive in life?
Lauren: Yeah, the mirror of life, like if something's happening in your daily life that seems small, it can seem small but, it's got lot of power. Are you okay with someone doing something for you, or helping you, offering to take some of the load off, or to just give you something without expecting something in return. Be open to those offers, be open to those compliments, like how many times do women say, you seem so radiant today, you're glowing and we reply: no you're glowing! It’s like - get that compliment off of me, I've got to put it back!
Haley: I know, that is common. Or, when someone compliments your outfit, oh, I got it on sale. It's like, oh.
Lauren: Yeah. Playing with all of that, it has power. It has power for how can we feel comfortable with our sexual partners or offering us our own sex, if it's really hard that has noting else expected in return, if it's really challenging for us to receive in other forms of daily life.
Haley: What about money? Do you find the connection between money and sex?
Lauren: Oh, yeah. I love that topic! Oh, my gosh. We should do another Facebook Live, only on money and sex, please. Yeah, I find it fascinating and I keep learning from it, personally and professionally. I don't think that's the end because, money's a form of energy that isn't going anywhere. We're always gonna have some sort of exchange and value place on our goods and services. It's not going anywhere, it's not dirty, it's not bad, it's a form of energy that honours us. I personally, love spending my money on women. I love it.
Like when I get an invoice from a woman, I'm like: pay it straight away! Like, yeah women help me, help me! I'll get that exchange too, I love helping other women rise through money. Yes, it can definitely be a case of feeling a lot of contraction down in our pelvic floor, which supports our anus, which supports our sexual reproductive organs, and helps us in form of continents, but the level of tightness down there and that esoterically is connected to, has a strong connection to our money habits. It can definitely be a case of: I gotta save, I got to preserve, I've gotta be conservative with my money, I can only spend money on necessities, not things that just bring me joy that have very little purpose. Yeah, it's really when our mindset and our spending habits are stuck in the constraints of conserving, conserving and preserving, I've found that they can definitely be some mirrors there with sex as well.
Haley: Wow. I love that you said the whole pelvic floor thing cause, I've never thought about it in that way about money…
Lauren: Yeah. So, honestly money, the one thing that I want to say to everyone about money is, money doesn't run out, it's not gonna run out, just because another women earns money, it is not taking money away from you. All that mindset stuff, I've had to do a whole lot of unravelling personally and all I can say is, there's so much light and so much relief, relief is the word I'm looking for, relief that comes from when you don't buy into that anymore. I really trust that the money that comes to me, comes to me because it's honouring the ways that I'm in alignment with my life. The money goes to you because, it's honouring the ways you're in alignment with your life.
And I'm friends with a few other sex coaches and sexologists and sex therapists, and it's like, I just trust they're getting the money from the clients that they're meant to see and I'm getting the money from my work, in a way that I'm meant to get it. I really trust that in ways there's alignment not like - oh. There’s nothing left for me. I'm gonna be behind and all that stuff and it's just a story. It's a story that's the bare truth.
Haley: Yeah, very true. So many people have such negative money beliefs.
Lauren: Yep. It's a big one. That refers back to, there's a lot of similarities with money and sex, it's that money's dirty, all that whatever. I can't even thing of all the terms now but, filthy rich sort of stuff. All that negative terminology around money. I'm learning that money stories and sexual stories aren’t that different because money's connected to worth and how we can sabotage ourselves when we don't believe in ourselves.
No ones going to give us money because, we don't believe in ourselves. People want to spend money where it feels good and they want to spend money where they see someone who's really honouring themselves, honouring their work, or their message.
Haley: Yes. That's definitely true. So, do you find with your clients that their male partners have trouble lasting in bed? Cause I read a study that said that most men don't last that long, is that what you're running into?
Lauren: Well, for me, for the clientele I see, yes, that can definitely come through, especially when sex is very infrequent. Especially when, I'm gonna speak to this because, this is important for me to say. Especially when, if they're in a relationship with a man, especially when that partner doesn't self pleasure and channels all of their sexual energy into their partner, into their female partner. What can happen is they might now last very long because, there're in a habitual sexual response and if sex is infrequent, they can get really excited and tend to ejaculate quite quickly.
Haley: You mean when the guy doesn't masturbate?
Lauren: Yeah, they guy can ejaculate quite quickly. All I want to say to that is, if there's any men watching this, any women watching, we're not responsible for being the sole source of our partner's sexual expression. It's a bit like the orgasm thing, I just don't want you to ever feel like you are. Clients have said to me: I feel like a vessel or my partner, that is not a good thing. We don't want our bodies to be a replacement for a hand or another form of sexual expression, we want to be a part of our partner's sexual repertoire and sexual expression. And visa versa for our partners.
When I read a book that's about sexuality, that's me nurturing my sexual self, that's not pleasure, that's me nurturing my sexual self. When I have a conversation about sex, that's me nurturing my sexual self. I've still got that piece about the connection between my partner and I. When we don’t do that, we kinda just hold our breath, have no sexuality, have no eroticism in our daily life, just nothing at all, and then go I'm just gonna pour it all into intercourse, into sexual expression with my partner and I'm gonna shut the door and then we'll do it again two weeks, four weeks, however long, it doesn't matter.
We need multiple outlets of sexual expression.
Haley: Love that you said that. Well, yeah I think that's important because, I run into women who have so much shame around self pleasure, they don't do it at all. So, you run into men that don't do it. Do you tell people you should be self pleasuring most times a week or just do it when you feel like it? What is your recommendation on that?
Lauren: When I work with women, I'm really, as you can probably tell I'm very much qualitative focused, I think most sexologists, sex therapists, sex coaches, relationship coaches, we're really qualitative focused. So, we're focused on how you feel, following your own way of life rather than a prescription but, usually when I work with women, just to give a little bit of insight is, usually after the second or third session, at the end of that session, I talk to them about a self pleasure practice that I endorse. It's actually inside of Permission. I speak to it and I give them a long page handout to just guide them through. What I say is, I'll see you in two weeks, I ask that you attempt that twice. So, the language and the terminology is very, very specific. I don't say I ask that you do it twice, I say I ask that you attempt it twice.
Haley: Attempt it, yeah.
Lauren: If you get stuck, send me an email, I'm here. It doesn't matter if you get blocked, if you find that you're feeling resistant, if you find that you just don't want to do it, write to me so that we can scale things back, you can ventilate, and we can try something else. 99.9 percent of the time, she'll try it and she'll do it without making contact with me because, it's been an invitation, not a prescription.
Haley: I love that.
Lauren: I ask her to do it twice and the practice is about 25, 30 minutes. That's an hour, that's pretty realistic. I ask her to do it twice because, no two times of self pleasuring are ever the same. I ask her to just see, sometimes the first time's great and the second one like flops a little bit, or she just feels a little more checked out. Then, we can look back, okay, what was going on in your life, what was going on in the space you were in? Oh, the house, we're about to move and I was in the room that has heaps of packing boxes. Okay, well, let's try a different space.
We just look at the external factors, internal factors, her menstrual cycle, her stress levels, conflict, we look at all of it and women just start picking up all the pieces that influence their presence and their interest in sex. That's really powerful.
Haley: Wow. That's amazing. I'm definitely gonna have to buy your book, it sounds fabulous. I would love to do a call with you about just sex and money because, that something that I researched on. I realised by doing what I've been doing, there's so many subconscious beliefs about both of those that aren't real.
Lauren: They're not real.
Haley: So, what would be your biggest take away and advice for people as we're closing up?
Lauren: My biggest advice that I can give to you and I'll probably never change this advice because, I'm just so true, is that strip away what you think you should be in sex and just come into sex and sexual expression, it doesn't have to be intercourse, show up as you are, own all your pieces, own your dorkiness, own your geakiness, own your awkwardness. Bring it all in, invite it all in and stop striving for perfection and you're probably gonna have a much better time and a lot more fun. Embrace all that stuff, it all belongs in sex, it's not a curated performance, and you might even find yourself having a giggle, which is a really good mimicking orgasm, in my opinion.
Haley: Yes. That's great.
Lauren: Turn up in sex as you are. If I had to put it down to one sentence, turn up in sex as you are and just strip all the other stuff away.
Haley: That's great advice, I love that. I think so many of us grow up with, especially women and now with, I hate how porn is now, but we feel like we have to act a certain way, that's so stupid.
Lauren: We've got to be like throwing back, arching, and all that stuff. No, it's just like, maybe, maybe not.
Haley: No way. Definitely very fake.
Lauren: Thanks so much for having me here, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to all of your incredible followers and I'm so glad we've connected and let's pick up the conversation again. It's endless, we'll always have something to talk about.
P.S. If any of the topics that we covered here have got you wanting more then I have more to give! Have you considered booking in an intro session with me so we can look at exactly what needs your attention, what you need to call in and what you need to let go of. Read all about collaborating with me here on my private sessions page
To learn more about Haley - go to her portal at https://www.haleyhelveston.com/