My mother tried to sell me sexual shame ever since I started self pleasuring at the age of 3.
Luckily, she was NOT a good salesperson and not only did her efforts not affect me, it had the opposite affect – it made me want to do it more.
No one is born with the emotion of sexual shame. This emotion is either imprinted by others or self-imposed. Sometimes we learn it as children, other times as adults.
As children, we all began as innocent sexual adventurers touching our genitals with no sense of shame or embarrassment. It was a journey of discovery, a curious wonder and a feeling of pleasure – we were experiencing our erotic innocence.
Until one day, an adult made us feel shameful or embarrassed about what we were doing by saying silly things like:
- Touching yourself will make you go blind – (my mother’s favorite).I am happy to report that I am in my early 30’s and not only am I NOT blind, but I am not even wearing glasses.)
- If you keep touching it, it’s going to fall off.
- Shame, shame, shame.
- Nice girls don’t do that.
- It’s a sin to touch yourself.
- You are going to grow hair on your palms if you keep doing that.
- If I catch you doing that again, you will stand in the corner until you realize what you’ve done wrong (I’ve spent hours staring at a boring wall.)
From these naïve but consequential comments and punishments, we learned the emotion of sexual shame from adults who were supposed to be our loving guardians or mentors.
We can’t really blame our parents or adults whose attitude towards sex comes from their parents who inherited Victorian taboos, religious misinformation, and centuries of ignorance.
But we can change how we feel, react or absorb this information and what we choose to teach the future generation so we don’t continue passing the same ignorance from one generation to the next.
As adults it could be self – imposed, or come from a lover, a friend who made us feel ashamed or embarrassed by expressing their feelings of displeasure of our sexual expression.
Unlearning Sexual Shame
Dr. Brene Brown defines shame like this:
“I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we’re flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging — something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
Sexual shame is a learned emotion and the good news is, it can be unlearned.
Unlearning sexual shame means dropping other peoples programming of your sexuality so you become free:
- Free to express your desires
- Free to be creative and confident
- Free in your feelings
- Free to experience your own pleasure the way you choose.
This doesn’t mean compromising your boundaries. It means having positive sexual experiences that nourish you.
It’s difficult to “unlearn” long – term emotions, but it’s necessary to achieve healthy growth and development as you work to overcome your sexual shame.
Living Without Sexual Shame
Shame is such a debilitating power mechanism because it affects us socially and internally. These unexpressed feelings live within us and return sooner or later as destructive emotions.
The ghosts of the past continually taint the simplicity of the present.
Sexual shame, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-love can haunt us for our entire lives if we choose not to address it and heal it.
Our souls will cry out to us when we can’t take it anymore. And it’s during these truth aches we are presented with the opportunity to create change.
To create lasting change and overcome sexual shame we have to choose to tell ourselves a different story starting with “I deserve pleasure and love” and commit to change.
Our body express joy when it feels truly touched, recognized, respected, appreciated and celebrated.
And it hurts when we condemn it to remain unknown or unacknowledged.
Cover Art By|Mark Kostabi