Sexual shame is so much a part of us that many of us can’t even remember when we picked it up. I know I can’t. Yet, it has clouded my entire life and when I was finally ready to release it, it took me months to work out how to release shame.
My History with Sexual Shame
I spent most of my life afraid of even being seen as remotely sexual. When kids in my 1st grade class made fun of the way I write my w’s, saying they looked like vaginas, I changed the way I wrote them. Funny thing about sexual shame is it’s an impossible line to walk. You’re shamed for being too sexual and shamed for not being sexual enough. In adolescence, I took up abstinence. Privately, it was because I was afraid God wouldn’t approve (even though I was shamefully watching porn the entire time). Publicly, I told my friends that it was just more convenient – besides I was the ugly, nerdy girl and no one wanted to have sex with me anyways.
I always thought that my sexual shame had everything to do with my environment. The fact that my mother didn’t approve of tampons and cringed at every scene of intimacy in shows and movies, yet still bought me short shorts and booby tops against my will, while commenting on my weight.
Or, the fact that my father disapproved of me shaving my legs, threading my unibrow, straightening my hair, and appearing in any way remotely attractive… then, his later remarks in my college years and presently, that I should be out on dates and doing something with my natural hair – in other words, making myself conventionally and socially acceptable. There’s also the blatant shunning of sex and relationships in my old Christian communities, while still propelling the case for marriage.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t just sexually frustrated, I was just plain old frustrated. Every message I received around sex and sexuality was hypocritical, split right down the middle, and left little room for my own voice or expression. Even though we’re all struggling to digest these damaging messages, few of us ever build up the courage to spit that shit out.
What Shame Really Is
Out of all the emotions I’ve covered in the FREE course, Mastering Lower Emotions (*no longer available* but this one is), I find shame to be the most interesting. Mainly because of a piece of wisdom shared on a podcast I listened to a few months ago – I’m still trying to remember where I heard it, but when I find it, I’ll share a link! The guest on the show shared this perspective on shame that completely reframed the way I understood, processed, and reacted to shame:
We typically think of shame as the way we feel when we’re rejected by other people, but shame is actually the rejection of our own selves.
In other words, shame is self-rejection. It’s what happens when we internalize our environment and reject ourselves.
This was HUGE for me. If you’ve been following the Mastering Lower Emotions series, you know that I LOVE looking for ways to become more empowered, because I truly believe we create everything in our reality and have the power to do wayyy more than we realize. Taking shame as just the product of our environments leaves us with little wiggle room. It makes us feel like we have to change the world, get everyone to see things our way, in order to get rid of that icky feeling or wrongness inside.
However, when you see shame as self-rejection, the ball is completely and fully in your court. Heck – there isn’t even an opposing team!
How to Release Sexual Shame
Try these 6 Practices
If the cause of shame is self-rejection, then the cure is self-acceptance. All the ways you’ve been making yourself wrong, you must now make yourself right. The cure is simple, but the process can feel daunting and uncomfortable, so here’s how to release shame, starting with some baby steps and basic practices:
- Start small. If accepting a part of yourself you’ve been rejecting your whole life feels like more than you can chew right now, then start somewhere else. Think of something you feel a tinge of shame or embarrassment about. Something like choosing to stay in and watch your favorite movie on your birthday, instead of going out and getting wasted. Then, start there. Turn it around and give yourself permission to embrace your desires and be exactly who you are.
- Practice self-approval regularly. Each moment, approve of yourself. Approve of the way you laugh, the way your belly looks, the way your hair grows, the way you sign your name. Fill yourself with love and approval every chance you can get.
- Be in complete acceptance. Just as you practice approval, practice acceptance. Completely accept your current life situation and the present moment, even if you’re working to change it. Also, be accepting of others, acknowledging and honoring them just the way they are without trying to change them.
- Create a new environment. Read the stories of those who have owned things you’re currently ashamed of. This one’s a biggie. Encountering women who’ve released their sexual shame and owned their sexuality tremendously helped me do the same. So, go searching for podcasts and books by trail-blazing people who have been where you are and are now proudly their beautiful selves!
- Take a historical perspective. Our current culture is simply a product of the past. It does not dictate what is “right” or “wrong.” It does not decide whether you are “right” or “wrong.” It itself is neither “right” or “wrong.” It is simply what humans have chosen in the past and you now get to decide what you would like to choose for your life today. There has never been a better time to come out, sexually or otherwise. While there are still those choosing to live in fear, you have allies among the fleet of light workers popping up across the globe. So be brave, Dragoness.
- Take this week’s challenge and release shame through art! Join this week’s comfort zone challenge and see how you can process and release deeply rooted shame through art.
And with that, I’m happy to relay this final message from your emotional body:
Shame is here to say,
I love you. Will you love me?
Thank you so much for joining me for the Mastering Lower Emotions Series and/or Course! It’s been a true honor creating for you and I’ve honestly learned so much in the process.
Check out this week’s challenge: Dare to Bare It All – Encounter & Heal Your Shame Through Art.