In my last blog “Understanding Sexual Fear, Guilt and Shame” I spoke about where sexual fear, guilt and shame can come from including our influences from upbringing and the type of sexual education we received. In this week’s blog, I continue on this theme, teaching you how to overcome sexual fear, guilt and shame and open fully to pleasure and sexual liberation. Here’s how:
1. Re-Wire your Beliefs about Sexuality
As we have seen, we are either conditioned to believe that sexuality is the opposite of purity, so having sex compromises our purity; or that our value is in our sexuality and without giving our bodies to someone and acting like a porn star, we are worthless.
Our behaviours, environment, thoughts, and emotions can cause the brain to rewire itself, even in adulthood when neural pathways are well-developed, and the key to this is repetition. Repeating affirmations to ourselves on repeat, like “I am full of sexual energy, sexual desire is healthy and normal,I am a sensually alive, sexy woman, my sex life is healthy and nourishing, my body is beautiful” can actually change our brain so that we can experience radiant sexual energy flowing through us.
Sexual guilt is a learned emotion and the good news is, it can be unlearned.
Unlearning sexual guilt means dropping other people’s programming of your sexuality so you become free to express your desires whilst also free to say no;free to be sensual whilst also free to contain your sexual energy;free to share all your feelings whilst also free to wait till your heart opens before you open your sexual and emotional body; free to experience pleasure whilst also free to experience painful emotions.
It’s difficult to “unlearn” long-term habits, but it’s required for healthy growth and development as you work to overcome your sexual guilt. Developing a daily practice such as this “Following Bliss in Your Body – Being Your Own Lover,” will help you to unlearn sexual guilt.
2. Understand and Experience Healthy Sexuality
To learn about healthy sexuality we need to experience it and what better way to experience it than within the safe container of a circle of women. Change happens most radically through the body, not through the mind and it can take time. Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to be suddenly sexually liberated overnight. In spite of hearing how sacred and beautiful sex is, conditioned beliefs that it is dirty can get really stuck. It’s almost like you need to build a collection of positive sexual experiences that gradually outweigh the negative associations.
3. Create Safety – Ask About STI’s
You could start by saying something like, “I’m feeling open to connecting sexually. I want to be able to relax and enjoy it, and I won’t unless I know we’re protected against STIs. Do you have any STI’s?” Then you can go onto to say if you do or if you are clear.
You may trust whatever information they give you, you may want to see test results or you may like to go together to get tested.
Listen to your partner’s point of view. Being a good listener shows respect and sets the tone for the conversation. Listening also gives you clues to what your partner thinks. What at first might seem like a resistance to getting tested for STIs could turn out to be a worry over.
It’s normal to be nervous when you first start talking about something like STIs, especially if you have an STI or your lover does. Even if you’re uncomfortable at first, you’ll get past your nerves the more you talk and listen and you will feel a lot less uncomfortable than discovering you have an STI after you have sex — or finding out that you gave one to your partner.
4. Accept Your Body
With constant messages in porn, magazines and movies telling women how they’re supposed to look, it is no wonder we feel ashamed of our bodies and worried about how we look naked. It’s a mindset that stops us from fully surrendering to pleasure and desperately needs shaking. Getting out of your head and feeling more comfortable in your skin means spending more time naked and looking at your whole body and the beautiful parts rather than just focusing on what you don’t like. Investing in sexy lingerie, creams and oils to make your skin feel even softer and more beautiful can also help. The main things however is to focus on the pleasure instead of the negative thoughts about yourself. The thing that turns men on more than anything else, is us being able to be fully receptive to pleasure. When they hear us moaning authentically that is a much bigger turn on than a perfect magazine or porn body.
5. Go Slowly
Every body works differently. And everybody’s body works differently when entangled with someone else’s body. If you and your partner are operating at different speeds, there’s no shame in slowing things down or stretching things out so you both can take the time you need to enjoy yourself and each other. Women in particular, need time to get turned on and enjoy long, soft, sensual stroking. We are most open sexually when our heart is open so don’t expect yourself to be immediately turned on like a porn star – it’s not real! Also, don’t feel guilty for needing sensual attention and a build up to openness especially if you do have a lot of fear, guilt and shame around sexual pleasure. Take your time. Breathe. If shame comes up, stay with it and work towards letting it go through your body and through your breath as you open more and more to love and pleasure.
6. Share Honestly
If guilt and shame is coming up, share, even though it’s uncomfortable. It’s quite common to feel like something is wrong with you if you are blocked sexually and the fact that you feel broken and alone is then compounded by your sense of shame. But talking about it with your lover or partner can make you realize that you’re not alone, even if the other person’s experience isn’t exactly the same as yours. If you are willing to share your body intimately with someone, you must also be willing to share honestly what your fears and desires are. Being vulnerable about your intimate desires can be intimidating, especially for women. You can feel like you’re being selfish, when really, your pleasure, your ease, you’re need to feel safe and loved, are all important. If your lover doesn’t want to please you, then you may need to wonder why.
7. Your Sexuality is Your Power
Our society and arguably the world, sees women as sexual objects. Female bodies and feminine qualities are expected to be soft, appealing, yielding, accepting, disarming, and flexible. Sexuality is more than how we look and how we relate to sex; it’s how we relate to the world. It’s part of how we harness our power, how we style ourselves and how we flirt and play. It’s what drives our desires and our feelings of satisfaction when we fulfill them. To challenge our own sexuality is to become more adventurous and open. As sexual beings, women need to activate. When I activated sexually – when sex became not something I was available for, but something that happened organically from feeling my own genuine needs and desires – my relationship to sex improved yes, but also my relationship to creativity and to the world at large.
Sexual activation took away the belief I can only have sex with someone I would be partners with, and replaced it with curiosity, a willingness, and more ease in going after my pleasure. From there, I started to see possibilities where before had only been negative judgments about sex without commitment. This doesn’t mean that I just have sex with anyone now. What it means is that I have felt where love can be present without commitment and that there is no shame in enjoying being lovers with someone if I can’t see myself marrying him. Being more open has improved my ability to make real connections.
8. You are Worthy of Pleasure
Sexual shame can also be about feeling unlovable, unworthy of pleasure or being branded as abnormal if your desires are too much out of the box. “Good girls don’t desire sex”, “If I have sex with him, at least I’ll feel loved, even if it’s not that pleasurable”, “If I ask for what I really desire, my partner will think I’m weird, only perverts do that”, “If I act or dress sexy, people will think I’m a slut”, “I don’t have to enjoy sex, it is just my obligation as a partner or wife”, “This desire or action makes me bad and dirty in the eyes of God.”
Anytime you feel messages holding you back from being worthy of pleasure, ask yourself “am I worthy of being loved?” Typically, women only feel authentic pleasure when they are feeling loved and their heart are open. You are worthy of pleasure and you are worthy of feeling loved.
Think of it like flipping a switch in your brain to send your brain train down a different track. It may feel rusty and forced at first, but eventually it will become your natural response and you’ll feel shame loosening its grip.
Now, change the story.
When you decide to shed the shame, you have to start changing the story you tell yourself. Next time you’re confronted with shame, notice it and then tell yourself a more positive message. Instead of “It’s bad that I want to have sex” shift your internal monologue to “My body is beautiful and worthy of pleasure!”
Instead of “If I wear this dress people will think I’m a slut,” put on the dress and think, “I love the way this dress makes me feel and I’m going to go to the party feeling confident!” It will take repetition to rewire your thoughts but it will happen over time.
As you go beyond your comfort limits and start embracing more authentic sexual expression, take a moment to check in and notice how your body feels. Get out of your head and into your hips. How does it feel to wear that flirty dress? What does it feel like to allow your lover’s hand glide along your sensitive thighs? Open to the pleasure of it.
Once you dare to ask your lover what you desire and what you lke, pay full attention to how it feels to receive your lover’s touch. Feel the pleasure available to you and let your physical sensations guide you toward what you enjoy and what you crave more of.
9. Don’t Shame Others
In order to free us all from shame, we must change our sexual culture as a whole. Participate in this shift by refusing to shame others. Anytime you notice yourself judging someone for being too sexual. Also, call your friends out when they shame other people. Notice how often it happens: “Look at how she’s dressed,” or “She’s such a flirt,” or “The way she is dancing is so suggestive” You’ll be amazed at how often these thoughts and conversations happen once you start to notice. Visualize shame as a spider web: nearly invisible, but ready to trap everything in its path. Like a spider web, once you snip away one thread, it weakens. A few more snips and it dissolves completely. Together, we can create a more sexually liberated culture that’s safer, happier and more pleasurable for us all.
10. Self -Pleasure
Self-pleasure is a wonderful way to overcome fear, guilt and shame around sexuality because the best way to heal anything is to engage with it directly! During self-pleasure, your shame has a chance to be triggered and then released out of the body. It’s also a beautiful practice to help us open up to loving ourselves and open up to becoming more confident in our sexuality. When we know what we need and want, pleasure and self-love replaces guilt and we form a much deeper connection between our bodies and hearts. Knowing what we are capable of experiencing, giving ourselves a chance to really drop in and FEEL physically and emotionally, exploring how our body receives pleasure has so many benefits. We are giving ourselves the intimacy we need and essentially becoming our own lover. We are taking the time to learn about our body so that we know what our desires and boundaries are and we start to figure out our own truth about sexuality instead of relying on others to tell us what you are supposed to think and feel.
Another huge gift is that we become more receptive. The more that we open to being touched, being seen, being held, the easier it will be to attract and receive this in your relationships. Self-pleasure in Tantra does not meaning getting yourself off or “flicking your bean” till you have an explosive orgasm. It is an integral part of becoming your own lover andgiving yourself the touch, presence, love and pleasure that you need and desire.
For a step by step guide to becoming your own lover, see our Practice Newsletter “Practice: Following Bliss in Your Body – Being Your Own Lover”.
To learn more about overcoming guilt, fear and shame in your sexuality and opening fully to pleasure, check out our upcoming Sacred Sexuality – 8Wk Tantric Women’s Course, starting in Perth on the 30th of Jan. Sacred Sexuality is a ground-breaking pathway to transform current paradigms of sexuality, relationships and pleasure, from suppression to liberation.