How to Overcome Sexual Shame

sexual shameOvercoming sexual shame is not an easy thing. Shame is built on a deep-seated foundation of beliefs (thoughts that you think over and over). For me, overcoming sexual shame was not an easy task. In fact, it is an issue I still struggle with to this very day. And growing up in an ultra-conservative society and raised as a staunch Catholic made it considerably more difficult to break free from the stifling mold.

I was trained to believe that sex was a dirty, sinful and shameful act – masturbation, ‘impure’ thoughts and desires, sex before marriage, homosexuality, using sex toys, watching sexy images or movies all WRONG. No one discussed sex in a positive and wholesome manner. The Church even condemned the inclusion of sex education in schools. Whatever I learned about sex came from other misguided boys I hung out with at school. Imagine how traumatic puberty was for me and for many who grew up in similar situations. Being gay was certainly no help. Any sexual feeling I had as a teenage boy was always followed by bouts of guilt.  Every erection, sexual stimulation or desire was met by equal or greater feelings of shame.

Sex was supposed to be reserved for marriage only.  Self-gratification was totally out of bounds and non-heterosexual relations were ‘an abomination’. Even certain sexual acts within marriage were considered ‘illicit’ – pretty much anything non-penile-vaginal that took place that could not result in the possibility of having an offspring was considered wrong. If it was outside marriage it was a great sin. And if it was not heterosexual in nature then ‘all hell would break loose”.

 

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+


The easiest way to over some sexual shame is to understand sex or sexual desire for what it is objectively. As with all things, sex has both a positive as well as a negative aspect to it. Consider water for example.  Water could be used to quench thirst or to wash yourself. But it could also drown a person or destroy an entire town. Similarly, sex can be used for good or for bad. You can use sex for pleasure, for making a baby or as an expression of love between two persons. Sex can also be used to shame, hurt or control someone else. You could feel positive emotions towards sex, such as, appreciation or expectation or you could feel negative emotion such as guilt, frustration or fear.

Hopefully, this article will help you focus on the positive aspects of sex, both the act itself and the emotions surrounding it.

Step 1. Understand and Accept Sex for What it is

Sex is beautiful

The first step in overcoming sexual shame and indeed all negative emotions surrounding the subject of sex is the understand and accept sex for what it is. Let’s dissect sex for what it is.

  1. Sex is a tool. It is not an end but a means to many ends.
  2. Sex is a basic need of the human person just like sleep or food. No one feels guilty for sleeping or for eating. S why should you feel guilty for satisfying other basic needs such as, sex.
  3. But there could be certain circumstances where sleeping or eating could be harmful. For example, gluttonous behavior or binge eating might not be so good. Similarly, starving yourself and engaging in anorexic or bulimic behavior are also not the best options for a human being. What’s the point? All actions must have balance and moderation. There is an Italian saying, “Virtue is in the middle”. Extreme behavior is not healthy. Stifling your sexual desires is not healthy either physically, psychologically or emotionally. Too much sex, to the point of addiction, is also not good for you, especially when it is affecting other areas of your life, such as, your relationships, work, school and other social norms.
  4. Sex has three important purposes – procreation (making babies), expression of love and pleasure. Any one or combination of the above, with the backdrop of a positive, consensual and mutually beneficial environment, is good and healthy.
  5. Sex is pleasurable and should be playful, enjoyable and fun
  6. Sex releases tension and stress.
  7. Regular sex has positive health benefits 
  8. Sex is meant to be joyful. It should never be used to control, manipulate, use, abuse or oppress another. And you should never tolerate that kind of behavior toward you.
  9. Your body is beautiful and is made for beautiful things. Sex is a beautiful thing.
  10. You are a free being whose main purpose is to enjoy the deliciousness of life
  11. The physicalness of life has great value
  12. Your body is made up of hormones, chemicals and electrical impulses that are normal, natural and working in harmony for your benefit.
  13. Sexual desire is merely a combination of chemicals and impulses that are created by the brain to elicit a response from the body similar to hunger and thirst.

This is a list that we started. Go get a notepad and continue this list. Start writing down some of the positive things you know to be true about sex. If you like, share it with us in the comments section below. Let’s keep the list rolling.

 

Step 2. Identify What You are Thinking and Feeling about Sex

Thinking black manThe second step in overcoming sexual shame is to identify what you are thinking and feeling about sex. I remember a dear friend of mine once told me that most of our problems exist in our minds. It’s only as I became more mature and started experiencing adult life that I fully understood what that meant. When we develop a mindset or a system of beliefs we are actually setting up how we will live our lives.

An important step in the healing process is to identify that your thoughts or beliefs around the topic of sex are erroneous to start with. Consider that:

  1. Many of the erroneous beliefs and perceptions that you learned about sex were developed mainly by fearful and misguided persons and institutions.
  2. Accept and understand that thoughts and beliefs can be changed by unlearning misguided teaching and reprograming new and beneficial thought habits.
  3. Be glad that you have reached a point where you recognize that you have beliefs that are not serving you.
  4. Be glad also that you are regaining control of your life.
  5. Isn’t it nice to know that you can reprogram your thinking to create healthier and more wholesome belief systems around the topic of sex?

To determine if the kind of sex you are engaging in is healthy or not here are a few questions to ask yourself. 

  1. Is sex objectively wrong? If your answer is no, then you have conquered a major hurdle and the rest will be easier to move past. If your answer is yes, sex is objectively wrong, then this is an erroneous thought that needs to be unlearnt. Sex is no more wrong than eating a sandwich or breathing or enjoying a beautiful sunset.
  2. Are your intentions relating to sex positive or negative? If sex is a tool to achieve pleasure, love or create new life then you are on the right track.  However, if you are simply seeking self-gratification at the expense of another; if you objectifying another human being to be simply a sexual toy; if you use sex to control, hurt, use or manipulate another; if there is no consent or benefit to the other person involved; if you checked affirmative for any of the previous scenarios, then your intentions are not positive.  You need to reprogram your belief system around the topic of sex.
  3. Are their positive or negative emotions associated with sex, either before, during or after sex? When engaging in sex or thinking about sex, do you feel any of the following emotions – fear, anger, frustration, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness, restricted, oppressed, malice, or any negative emotion? If you answered yes to any of the previous emotional states then you need to reprogram your thought system on the topic of sex. This will also involve ultimately removing the stimuli that cause you to feel that way, even if it means choosing a more wholesome relationship. However, if you feel appreciation, joy, contentment, hopefulness, excitement, frisky, free or any positive emotion at any stage of sex (before, during AND after) then you are on the right path.

In essence, we’ve boiled down the guilt process to three areas – the objectivity of sex, sexual intentions, and the emotions and thoughts surrounding sex. If any one or combination is negative then your ideas around sex need some work. Now, while certain actions are clearly wrong, e.g. violently forcing someone into having sex, you have to understand that these actions first started with a thought or belief system. Change your beliefs and you will change your life.

We want you to feel freedom and joy where sex is concerned. In fact, freedom and joy are two key pillars of life that are innate rights of every human being. They are both the driving force behind every decision we make in life. When it comes to sex you should always feel freedom and joy as opposed to fear and guilt. Harboring any negative emotion around the topic of sex means that whatever you are believing is not perfectly aligned with your innate desires for freedom and joy.

 

Step 3. Identify the Source of Your Shame

This is an important step in overcoming sexual shame. Sit and do some reflection. There are two layers we want you to uncover. Firstly, think back to your childhood or adolescent years and think about what you were taught about sex. Who was doing the teaching and what were they saying? It could be your parents, your school or your church. Make a list of the things they might have said to you about sex. Compare them to what you have come to learn through your own experiences or simply compare them to what you have learned in Step 1 above. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do these teachings or rules make sense rationally, biologically, scientifically and even spiritually?
  2. Do these rules serve me and my happiness?

If the answer is no to any of those questions, you need to modify your thinking around the subject. Through this process of identifying the source of your belief system around the subject of sex, you will identify what works for you and what does not.  The great thing about knowing what you do not want is that it helps you redefine and refine what you do want. Go ahead, pull out your notepad and start doing some soul searching. Take a trip down memory lane.  Do not spend more than 10 minutes on this exercise. If you want, share your notes and story with us in the comment section below.

 

Step 4. Learn to Love Yourself

Learn to love yourselfYou are the first and greatest lover you’d ever come across. If an understanding of that is the only ting you take away from this post, you would have achieved a great deal in your journey of overcoming sexual guilt. Indeed, you would have achieved much in overcoming all forms of negative self-loathing and shame in any form.  Sometimes and I wink at myself whenever I pass by a mirror or while brushing my teeth or combing my hair.  I don’t do it because I’m a narcissist. No, I do it because we so easily allow self-hate to creep into our thoughts. Instead, I encourage myself to think positive thoughts and take positive actions towards loving myself. It may be as small as a wink at myself or something bigger like removing myself from a negative situation or relationship. Why is it so difficult to learn to love ourselves and express that love in tangible ways?  It could be a wink or buying ourselves something special or treating ourselves to a nice meal, much like taking ourselves out on a date.  The only relationship that you need to really work on is the relationship between you and yourself.  Once you can master that, then other relationships can be better developed as you already know how to feel comfortable in your own skin. Find time to love yourself and express it in tangible ways. Sexual pleasure is one of those expressions of love and bond with another human being. Why not with yourself?

Here, we want you to make a list of all of the positive things about yourself. Be sure to include a few positive things that are related to sex as well, e.g. I’m a great lover, I’m beautiful, I’m well-endowed, I know how to last long in bed, I have mind-blowing orgasms, I give my lover mind-blowing orgasms, etc., etc., etc. Do this on a regular basis, daily for a couple of weeks and you will be surprised how you begin to reprogram yourself and start having a more positive outlook on your sexuality and your self-image.

 

Step 5. Educate Yourself

Knowledge is truly power. When you know the truth you will be free from all of the BS rules that are imposed on you by ‘well-meaning’ people and institutions. Take time to read and research about sex and sexuality. This will give you a better appreciation and understanding of sex and your own sexuality. The fact that you are here reading this article is already a great sign that you are making progress and moving towards achieving your goal of freeing yourself of sexual shame. You’d be surprised what you learn and how over time, your perspective on sex and sexuality will begin to change. Feel free to share with us what you’ve learned about sex by sending us a private message on the “Ask Jay and Kay” page or share it in the comments box below.  For instance, in my research, I learned the difference between sexual orientation, sexual identity and sexual physiology. Often many people confuse the three as being interchangeable. Tell us what you have learned from your personal experience.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is extremely important that you learn to overcome guilt and shame and all forms of negative thoughts. You’d find that most often your negative thoughts and beliefs stem from fear of something. Sexual shame often stems from fear of hell and damnation. Perhaps it could be fear of your parents (I remember my father telling me he’d break my hands if he ever caught me masturbating). Maybe it is fear of your own self. Who knows? Only you can answer those questions. Maybe you had no choice or control over the source of your shame and guilt. However, at this red hot moment, you have complete control of how you continue to think and feel. You can start the process of change and progress by simply making the decision to begin your healing journey today. Take action now!

We’d like to hear from you. Leave us a comment below.

Have a look at some of our other posts that might be of interest to you:

Health Benefits of Frequent Ejaculation

Seven Easy Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life

How to Introduce Sex Toys in Your Relationship

Using Sex Toys for a Healthy Prostate

22 Comments to How to Overcome Sexual Shame

  1. Nathan Glick says:

    This is truly a difficult subject when being raised and a religious household. The emotions that come along when going through puberty, like you said, can only compound these feelings. Great job at breaking everything down though. Understanding that sex is a natural act alone can go a long ways. Very interesting post!

    • Kay says:

      Thanks Nathan for your comment. Yes, you are correct. Religion can bring certain negative emotions with it, especially where sex is concerned. Don’t get me wrong. Religion has its place in society. But, its role should be more a supportive, rather than a condemning one.

  2. Grace says:

    Thanks for your post about overcoming sexual shame, I know you will help a lot of people. I don’t know why our society shame people for doing something so natural.

    Your steps that you’ve set out to overcome this are very easy to follow and makes so much sense. I think these steps can apply to other aspects of our lives that we want to overcome as well.

    Very informative, thanks so much.
    Grace

    • Kay says:

      Hi Grace. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I’m so glad that you found this post on overcoming sexual shame useful and informative. And you are totally correct. These steps could be applied to so many other areas in your life where negative beliefs are keeping you back from living a full life.

      Regards

      Kay

  3. Chadd says:

    Hi there.
    Great and comprehensive article.
    I think that sex is a very healthy thing but like you said can be used in the wrong way sometimes.
    Sex between two consenting adults is a beautiful thing especially if love is involved. Thanks again for your article.
    Chadd.

    • Kay says:

      Thanks Chadd. It think you said it superbly. Sex between two consenting adults where love is involved is an amazing thing. Not something to be ashamed of. But something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Sex is so much fun.

  4. Eleh says:

    Really good and comprehensive article about very important subject- well done Kay.
    I hope more people can educate themselves to change the way they think about sex.

    • Kay says:

      So do we Ele. You’d be surprised at the number of people living with sexual shame everyday and all because someone else tells them that they should live or act or be a certain way.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Hi Kay, thanks for sharing this tips on how to overcome sexual shame. Growing up in a Christian home I always felt guilty when I had sexual thoughts or feelings. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve definitely learned to appreciate sex and what it means for me. It’s a thing to be enjoyed, not to be condemned or ashamed of, so long as you’re being safe and doing things in a positive way.

    I will definitely keep these tips in mind.

    • Kay says:

      Thanks Stephanie for your comments. Your story is so common place. It’s a pity that religion is not really helping people to live more positive lives, not just with regard to sex, but in may other areas as well. Religion has a great role to play but I’m afraid that when the blind is leading the blind we’ll all get nowhere really fast.

      Thanks

      Kay

  6. Helen Vella says:

    Interesting post, sex has been a challenge for many people, when I see my clients there is always some kind of sexual guilt or shame that comes up for them. Religion has a lot to do with it as you already mentioned. I don’t think it is ever going to change and sex trafficking and abuse is not getting less it is getting more.

    • Kay says:

      Yes, this is truly a sad situation of using other human beings for mere sexual gratification through sex trafficking and abuse. Sex violence against children is also on the rise. I really wish there was a way we could address those issues. But I guess we can only start making a change with the ‘man or woman in the mirror’.

      Thanks for your comment

      Kay

  7. Miguel Rocha says:

    Hey man,

    I’m really proud of you for starting up a blog that’s centered around sex and how it should be perceived more positively in the long run. With you coming up from a really conservative family, It’s nice that you took the time to understand this even though this subject was always given a negative light to you. Hoping to check our more articles from you

    • Kay says:

      Thanks Miguel,

      It was (and still is) a struggle. But I am really happy with the progress I’ve made and I hope that I could help others even if in a small way.

  8. Anis Chity says:

    Hi there, this is really a great and very informative post, whenever I think about sex I automatically think about the bad things it can do, and you’re right I should change the way I think.

    I will try that and follow your tips, love your blog!
    Anis

    • Kay says:

      Thanks for stopping by Anis. I really do hope that the tips and tricks on how to overcome sexual shame presented here in this post will help you have a better outlook on sex and your sexuality. All the best and remember to have fun.

  9. Brandon says:

    Wow, this is a comprehensive article, Kay! You are doing a great thing here, not many people will talk about this subject. Even though I don’t have trouble with Sexual Shame and nor do I know anyone that DOES, I absolutely know you will help hundreds of people, and possibly even thousands with your great article.

    I totally agree with your 3 purposes of sex that you mentioned. Although making babies is not always on the list, there’s nothing wrong with making love and having pleasure at the same time.

    Kind regards,
    Brandon

    • Kay says:

      Thanks for visiting Brandon. You would be surprised how many people have a negative outlook on sex and their sexuality. Even those who seem to be OK always have some element of negativity mixed in somewhere. Most religious people, kids now hitting puberty, people having challenges with their sexual orientation or identity all have issues to deal with in terms of sexual guilt and shame.
      And you are totally right, sex isn’t only about making babies making love and enjoying sex is perfectly natural, normal and OK. Have fun.

      Kay

  10. Gaylene says:

    Hi Kay,

    Great article. As you’ve said, education is the key to understanding and overcoming feelings of guilt and shame. I think Society’s perception of sex has changed a little over the years – but there’s still a long long way to go especially around understanding and accepting same sex couples. Sex shouldn’t be seen as dirty, it’s a beautiful thing – no matter what your sexual orientation. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Kay says:

      Thanks Gaylene for your comments. I really appreciate it. And yes, you are right. There has been a lot of progress but we still have a long way to go to reach that point where sex can be freely and easily spoken in public and with our children. No more talks about the Stalk bringing babies but frank, open and healthy discussions and perceptions about sex.

      Regards

      Kay

  11. Tasleem says:

    Hi,

    I must say it takes a lot of courage to create a website on the topic of sex especially since I read the very conservative upbringing you had. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you!

    • Kay says:

      Thanks for your comment Tasleem. Yes growing up with a conservative background did not help much in developing and healthy and wholesome perception and feeling about sex. I am just glad that I was able to teach myself to unlearn all of the erroneous rules handed down to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *