Understanding Sexual Fear, Guilt & Shame

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Sexuality, more than any other energy, carries the power for healing, love and awakening. It is the energy that creates life and yet, society mostly teaches that it is a purely desire-based energy, which is unclean and needs to be kept hidden.

Sexuality is not just something to be felt in the bedroom, it is a pulse that enlivens everything we do and everyone we connect with.  When a woman develops a healthy relationship with her sexuality and her yoni (sanskrit word for vagina), she discovers a profound receptive quality.  Her body opens the way a flower opens to the light of the sun when the day dawns. She drinks in sensation with all her senses and sees-feels-listens-tastes throughout her body. She opens because her heart opens and her sexuality is primarily an expression of her love. In lovemaking, she is circling and spiraling and exploring, always moving and creating and at the same time going nowhere slowly. There is nothing linear about her. She sees sexuality for what it is: a beautiful, sacred act of love and creation.

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could all see and feel sexuality in this same way?  Why is there still so many people who not only feel sexual shame and fear, but who feel guilty for their sexual desires and interests? 

 

Where does Sexual Fear, Guilt and Shame come from?

1. Upbringing

None of us were born with sexual guilt. We did not judge it as right or wrong.  We simply explored it like every other part of the human experience, touching our genitals with a sense of discovery, wonder, and a feeling of pleasure.

Until one day, we may hear something like this:

  • What are you doing? Stop that?
  • Touching yourself will make you go blind
  • Stop touching your private parts
  • Don’t do that! Don’t touch!Don’t look!
  • Nice girls don’t do that
  • It’s bad to touch your private parts or anyone else’s
  • If I catch you doing that again, you will be punished

Or, we are caught masturbating and the door is quickly shut.  We gradually (or suddenly) learn that sexuality is something shameful to be hidden from an adult who could have been lovingly teaching us that sexuality is natural, sacred and beautiful.  It is what created us! This is not about blaming our parents or others for our shame. It’s about consciously breaking the cycle.  If our parents were taught sexual shame, chances are, we were taught sexual shame and unless we get re-educated, we will teach it to our children and the cycle will continue. 

So, how do we talk to our children about sex?  Well for starters let your child know why you are having the conversation. “I’m going to talk to you about this because I want you to that sexuality is healthy and a natural part of life.”

Perhaps begin with the physical act of creating life. Talk about penises, vaginas, eggs, the whole physicality of the act including the pleasure sensations. Then, follow up with how the act is not simply a physical one. It’s also an emotional and energetic one.

From a Tantric perspective, it is essential that children understand there is power in the act beyond the act itself. They need to know that there is an energy exchange a heart exchange, and, during sex, you create a sacred and intimate space through love. 

It’s also good for children to know, girls in particular, that they take on the energy of the person that they make love to – it is not a temporary experience, and another person’s energy lingers with you.

Give them a chance to ask questions and allow your wisdom and intuition to guide you.  Perhaps share your experiences as well as your knowledge. 

2. Sexual Education

For decades, sexual education has been largely limited to teaching young adults how to protect themselves against STD’s. It has also been influenced by Religion and of course, at the other extreme, Pornography. Goodness, no wonder there is so much confusion, fear, guilt and shame. We are either being taught to suppress our sexuality with moralistic outdated viewpoints or we are being taught to over-exaggerate it, with an obsession on flawless genitalia, positions, coming, and the perfect performance.

Abstinence education is where students are taught that choosing not to be sexual until they are in a committed, monogamous marriage, is the best, safest option. Safest because if we are not having sex with more than one person then we are not going to be as exposed to sexually-transmitted infections and/or unplanned pregnancy. Best because it is the most virtuous or “pure” choice. Remaining pure from sexuality until marriage was seen as a good, moral choice. This infused sexual education with a notion that our sexual urges are immoral, and that we are better people when we choose to live above them.

Pornographic educationon the other hand, is where we are taught that sex is on for one and all, whether you are in a committed relationship or not.  In fact, the more the merrier!  It is a literally a manufactured product that’s as synthetic as you can get. It is devoid of any heart and soul and porn actors have a whole team of people plus lighting and make up to make every detail look perfect, which not only increases the insecurity that so many men and women experience but is also completely misleading.  Nobody tells you that it is not normal for sex to look that way, much less your body! Nobody tells you that emotional connection, romance, boundaries, conversation is more important than have the perfect moves and perfect body. Further, with extended pornography use, ordinary levels of the stimulus are no longer interesting. This may be how normal sex becomes much less interesting for porn users or they don’t get turned on with the simple things such as the beauty in a smile or loving touch. So is porn really something that can enhance a couple’s sex life, or is it a lie sold by the industry because porn is one of the biggest money makers in the world? (Hint: it’s probably the second one.)
The religious approach focuses on covering up females to prevent males from becoming overly aroused. The pornographic approach focuses on revealing EVERYTHING with plastic surgery often being used to attain the look of “perfection”. Both can lead to shame around our bodies. The religious approach focuses on abstinence, the pornographic approach focuses on excess. Both can lead to guilt about our sexual encounters. The religious approach focuses on pleasure being sinful and risky, the pornographic approach focuses on pleasure being the only thing we are meant to experience during sex. Both can lead to fear that what we are doing is “wrong”.  We are either expecting ourselves to be porn stars or nuns!  Neither extreme is healthy. The sexual constrictions in taking the moral high ground leaves people inhibited, and often feeling that they must reject normal, healthy sexual urges including masturbation. The unnatural fake performance in porn, leaves people confused as to why they don’t look like, sound like or feel like the actors do.  In both cases we are not being taught what we need to be taught so we either completely suppress our sexuality or overexpress it.

So where do we learn what we need to learn about sex?  Where do we learn about heart infused pleasure, emotional connection, self-respect, boundaries, honesty about what we like and don’t like, loving our body, giving with loving presence, receiving in surrender, and owning our desire?

Tantra.

In Tantra the heart is at the centre of all connection. The body is felt and seen as a beautiful temple to be celebrated and worshipped. Pleasure is experienced as a fully embodied birthright. And Sex is a ritual that connects us to Spirit and deeper Love.   It is between the two extremes of porn and religion.

Contemplate: Where does your fear, guilt and shame around your sexuality come from?

Does it come from a very conservative or religious sexual education?

Does it come from pornography?

Does it come from a fear of contracting STD’s?

Does it come from body shame?

Does it come from giving your body away too freely?

Does it come from drunken one night stands where you didn’t feel respected?

Does it come from allowing your boundaries to be crossed or tolerating things that didn’t feel good?

Contemplate: Do you mask your fear, guilt and shame by over-extending your sexuality (throwing yourself at men and/or having lots of sex) or by hiding it? Or, do you do both at different times?

Aside from the expected challenges of learning something new, most people struggle in different ways when they start having sex. They either deal with feelings of guilt, fear and shame by being very shy to express themselves sexually or go the other way and overexpress, sometimes with alcohol and/or drugs to help them!  In both cases, we are doing what we were conditioned to believe makes us acceptable and loveable.

If you are haunted by the ghosts of prior sexual experiences, battle with regrets and have felt dirty and used after sex then you are probably in the second category of overextending sexual energy.

If you are plagued by your inability to stop thinking that sex is wrong and dangerous, then you probably fit into the first category. You may find that no amount of intellectual knowledge or trying can take away those deeply ingrained beliefs. For some women, even when they are married, they still see sex as dirty. The wedding dress doesn’t just magically make the transition happen instantaneously.In the space of a few hours, something that’s always been treated as forbidden, dangerous and private can’t suddenly become something we enjoy and celebrate.

I have counselled many women who want to know how to overcome feelings of guilt, fear and shame in their sexual relationship.  There are two components necessary.  The first is understanding why it is there in the first place (the theme of this blog).

The second is opening your mind to a new paradigm. Keep and eye out for next fortnight’s blog “Overcoming Fear, Guilt and Shame”, out Jan 14th, for more on how to do this. (You can also sign up to our newsletter HERE)

The third is a having a regular daily practice where you create a sacred space to open fully to pleasure and release the guilt, fear and shame out of your body (see Practice Newsletter Dec 4th 2018, “Following Bliss in Your Body – Being Your Own Lover”).

To learn more about finding freedom from guilt, fear and shame in your sexuality and to open 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. 

With love, Xx Chantelle