Healing Sexual Shame

Is sexual shame keeping you from having a healthy sex life? Many people suffer from both guilt and shame around their past experiences and this keeps them from enjoying sex in the present. It is possible to heal sexual shame. But it takes determination to face your demons.

The Origins of Sexual Shame

Guilt often comes from doing something that goes against your internal sense of right and wrong. Shame can come from something that happened to you – perhaps abuse – where you internalize the sense of being wrong. In this case you become convinced of being dirty or of your inherent unworthiness, instead of being angry at the person who violated your innocence.

Shame is so painful that many people turn to addictive behaviors, substance abuse, sexual overactivity, overeating--anything to numb their haunting feelings. The help of a therapist who is trained to understand this behavior, and who doesn’t add judgment, is often needed to help someone face what feels like the “unfaceable." Look for the right help, and it may take some searching to find the right therapist or self help group where you can share your secrets in a safe environment. 

Secrecy keeps sexual shame intact and fuels the “demon" to the point where it can dominate your life, coloring your choices and making it difficult or impossible to give and receive intimacy. 

Seven Tips For Healing Sexual Shame

Until you can find the right therapeutic support, here are seven self help tips for healing shame:

1. Even if you don’t believe it – you are worthy of love!

2. Choose to accept the part of yourself that you are certain is unworthy.

3. Recognize that you don’t deserve to suffer any longer.

4. Everyone has secrets. Seek to bring yours into the light in a safe way.

5. Begin a program of healing yourself through self-love, emotional, and spiritual healing.

6. Recognize that if you were abused, it is not your fault – even if you allowed it.

7. Recognize that shame is an energy, a self-imposed prison, and choose to be free.

Action Steps To Heal Sexual Shame

1. Even if you don’t believe it – you are worthy of love!

No matter what happened in your past, you are a human being who did not deserve to be hurt. In fact, you deserved to be loved and protected. Work to dismantle and undo the idea that you don’t deserve to be loved by ACTING in ways that express simple love of self. For example, talk to yourself in positive, encouraging ways. Every day do one POSITIVE self care action that supports you in a healthy, nurturing way.

2. Choose to accept the part of yourself that you are certain is unworthy.

One of the reasons that sexual shame is so emotionally lethal is that we separate ourselves from our natural, healthy desires for sexual connection. We try to separate out that side of ourselves, thinking that if we could eliminate sexual desire, we would eliminate the “bad" within. We need to own that part of ourselves, to include it, and most importantly to love it. The only way to be free is to accept the parts of ourselves that we have been disowning.

3. Recognize that you don’t deserve to suffer any longer.

Even without knowing you, if you are reading this article, you have been suffering, and we know that you have suffered enough! Enough is enough! You deserve to be free of your past. As soon as you decide to accept that fact, your healing begins.

4. Everyone has secrets. But seek to bring yours into the light in a safe way.

Secrets keep shame intact. So finding the right non-judgmental therapist or sexual recovery group can help you bring your darkest secrets into the light. Open communication in the right context can help you release the shackles of the past. Sometimes a gentle, compassionate partner can hear your secrets, but many are not prepared to hear this, and bringing your past into your present love relationship works for some, but not others.

5. Begin a program of healing yourself through self-love, emotional and spiritual healing.

Recognize that the mountain of shame did not occur over night. But making the decision to heal and release the grip of the past is the first step to moving forward. Everyone heals in their own ways, and you will likely be finding your own way. It begins with the willingness to heal. Treat this as a sacred process. Seek out people and places that support your well-being. 

And check out this resource, a retreat for emotional healing.

6. Recognize that if you were abused, it is not your fault – even if you allowed it.

The second layer of tragedy about abuse is that victims suffer every day, even if the abuse is not continuing. It is never your fault if you experienced abuse from another. Even if you enjoyed it or participated in some way. It is never right to overpower another and to extract sexual favors from someone who doesn’t want to give it. You did not deserve to be mistreated!

7. Recognize that shame is an energy, a self-imposed prison, and choose to be free.

You Are Not Your Shame

Shame is like a powerful magnet. Unless you begin to deliberately challenge this force within, it will perpetuate itself. You may even feel helplessly drawn to repeat the behaviors that caused the original shame. If you believe you are dirty, unworthy, or a bad person because of this past, you become like a hamster on the wheel of shame. You are drawn by a seemingly mysterious force to repeat self-damaging behaviors. Choose now to begin your process of stepping off the wheel. Act differently – find a determination and passion to begin to heal yourself.

You are not your shame. You have feelings of shame. And you can learn to let go of these internal tormentors. You are not defined by the events of the past. You can redefine yourself by the actions you take today. And tomorrow. Every time you act in ways that affirm your love of self, you heal, and erode one more piece of the mountain of shame. Do it now.

We love you! And you are worthy of our love!

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