Part 2 in a series of three articles about Sex and Shame, we look at the first two common sources of sexual shame,
- What we look like or how ‘sexy’ we look;
- Who and what we desire;
Body Shame and Body Love
For women, body image tends to be a massive issue. A sense of inadequacy is the default setting for many women. I’ve worked with hundreds of women both within the Shakti Tantra women’s programme and individually, and the level of negative self talk and criticism we are capable of never fails to sadden me.
I’ve also seen criticism consistently transform into glowing self acceptance as women become more balanced in their feelings about their bodies, no matter what shape or size they may be.
Meanwhile my male clients tend to be dismissive about their bodies and how they look when it comes to sex. But here’s the thing: our relationship with our body matters enormously, whatever our gender. Whilst a lot of our sex drives comes from our brains, the pleasure happens in our bodies.
“Our relationship to our body matters enormously, whatever our gender. When we feel comfortable and happy in our bodies, we notice more of the nuance of our pleasure, and we feel more satisfied as a result.”
When we feel connected, comfortable and happy in our bodies, we tend to notice more of the nuance of our pleasure. This leads to fuller pleasure and an overall increase in satisfaction. Take my word for it!
Body shame can lead to us to over-focus on our partner’s pleasure as a distraction from our own discomfort. Whilst this may feel wonderful for our partner, eventually the imbalance will become obvious and diminish mutual satisfaction.
A lack of comfort and enjoyment in our own body can also create problems around arousal. For men it may unconsciously lead to blocking erections due to being unable to connect with sensation and emotion. I regularly witness people of all genders limit their arousal by sticking to a limited range of sensations and hurrying to orgasm, before more complex and uncomfortable feelings and emotions ‘get in the way’.
“People of all genders tend to limit their arousal by sticking to a limited range of sensations and hurrying to orgasm, before more complex and uncomfortable feelings and emotions ‘get in the way’.”
Doing the work to cultivate a healthy, loving relationship with our own body – no matter how young, old, fat or thin we are – leads to major and multiple benefits. Our whole lifestyle tends to become healthier when we love our bodies. Stress levels go down and life flows with more ease. And, most importantly, we allow ourselves a far richer palette of pleasure.
What is it that you desire?
Psychologists have been fascinated and perplexed about who and what humans desire sexually – and the scenarios their fantasise about – for decades. Our desires take us into the deepest parts of our psyche – territory that is sometimes easy to comprehend; but more often contradictory and confusing.
When we feel ashamed about our desires, I believe it causes us great harm. It can feel like the desire is in charge; it can become unhealthily insistent, and it certainly won’t go away. This can create havoc when we want to have a healthy erotic life with a beloved partner.
“When we feel ashamed about our desires, they can become unhealthily insistent. This can create havoc when we want to have a healthy erotic life with a beloved partner.”
We can bring our desires into the light by working consciously with them. This helps us to get clearer on which desires we really want to live, and which are best left to the imagination. Lifting the shame around our desires creates so much opportunity for growth and maturity as a sexual being.
In Part 3 I explore how performance anxiety arises from shame and the importance of transcending our inhibitions to let our true selves shine.
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