So we’ve mastered sexuality as a culture now, right? Victorian repression long behind us as we live through a shame-free, liberated age. We’re mature, open and healthy in our sexuality; as evidenced by all the public health campaigns, TV sex and freely available pornography; the array of self help books and internet guides to bigger, better orgasms.
Erm, ok… so who are we trying to kid!?
If this was actually the case, my job wouldn’t exist and I’d be tending my organic veggie garden all week long! This article is the first in a series of three in which I discuss the key areas of shame that regularly limit our sexual and sensual pleasure, and how we can become shame free.
“I see people everyday who are severely limited by the shame they carry around sexuality.”
In reality, people are now having sex less frequently in high income countries. The reasons are no doubt complex, but in my client work I continually come across a key contributing factor: the discomfort people feel about themselves, and their awkwardness in relating with their partners.
I see people everyday who are severely limited by the shame they carry around sexuality. And I witness how shame still stops people from truly understanding and benefitting from the incredible, natural gift of their erotic energy.
Four kinds of sexual shame
The very nature of sex and arousal is intimate: it opens us up energetically and emotionally. This feels wonderful and is very healthy, but we often underestimate and ignore the vulnerability involved. We can feel incredibly sensitive during lovemaking.
Self consciousness creeps in; partners’ comments or actions can feel like criticism; many of us become swamped with feelings of inadequacy, perhaps long-held. These feelings of shame – of being ‘wrong’ or ‘unworthy’ in some way, affect so many of us. At best they limit our pleasure, at worst they become completely debilitating.
“Unless we understand ourselves and become truly comfortable with who we are, accessing the full spectrum of our pleasure will elude us.”
There are four common areas where sexual shame arises for people of all genders:
- What we look like or how ‘sexy’ we look;
- Who and what we desire;
- How we ‘perform’ sexually;
- How we express ourselves when we ‘let go’.
Unfortunately, the ‘better sex’ tips in magazines and online tend to lead us towards the idea that we can make it all work through doing more, trying harder, being ‘better’ at sex. I’m not saying technique can’t be helpful or fun to play with, but unless we understand ourselves and become truly comfortable with who we are, accessing the full spectrum of our pleasure will elude us.
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