Shame or Emotional Intimacy Issues Anyone?
Developing emotional intimacy is one of the most vulnerable things we can ever do. With that vulnerability with another we oftentimes have all our issues pop up around it. These emotional intimacy issues are generally attached to shame, judgement, fear and anxiety. We are oftentimes scared that we won’t be met, won’t be loved, won’t be accepted by the person we most want to love, accept and hold us. Sometimes we even make up the story that we are better off single and avoiding sex and relationships all together because it is too painful to not be met with love and acceptance. At the root of all this is our own self love. We can only feel love and acceptance from others to the degree we love and accept ourselves. Navigating these emotional intimacy issues can be really challenging when we have received no training or support on how to deal with these powerful uncomfortable and painful emotions that go hand in hand with opening our hearts and our sexuality with another.
Sexual Shame is the feeling that our sexuality is not okay.
We’ve been conditioned by a society that gives us a very narrow view of what is okay with our sexuality. We are told very narrowly that sex is only okay within the confines of a monogamous hetero marriage. Outside of that structure sex is bad, wrong, dirty, gross, perverse, sinful, slutty, dangerous. The list goes on and on of how we are shamed for our sexuality. And the only places we learn about sexuality from are our schools which teach abstinence only education showing us pictures of stds that will do horrible things to our genitals if we have sex. We are shamed for getting pregnant outside of marriage. We are shamed for seeking protection and buying condoms or wanting to use birth control. We are shamed for getting/wanting an abortion. We feel great shame if we do contract an STD and more if we passed it on.
If being a virgin is pure. Then having sex is dirty. And once we give in to our sexual desires then we are dirty forever more. We have self loathing for not being able to control ourselves and having sexual desires. Because sex is bad and wrong, so wanting to have sex or actually having sex must make us bad and wrong. Then there is the whole host of sexual preferences we are told are wrong to have, or we might be rejected, bullied or beaten up for if anyone knew. So we push everything down into the dark secret places attempting to suppress anything shameful around our sexuality, which is just about everything outside of hetero married sex.
Even in a traditional marriage, because shame is already so ingrained with our view of sexuality, most us carry this with us regardless of what we do.
Wow that’s so much to be ashamed of with our sexuality. Even for those of us who are fairly free of these shaming conversations in our own heads, we still feel the charge of shame around certain taboo sexual desires. We fear rejection if anyone knew, even our lover/wife/husband. We are told monogamy is the only okay form of relationship. And if we desire to relate in an open manner, then we face the judgements of anyone who knows. Even though open relating is becoming more mainstream and gaining attention, it’s not the narrative we are fed by society. We don’t see examples of happy non-monogamous relationships anywhere. The fairy tales are all boy meets girl, they fall in love, then they live happily ever after. When we find out how hard relationship can be and the many pitfalls we may have we are ashamed to let anyone know how relationships aren’t “Happily ever after”. So, some suffer privately until their relationship can’t be salvaged and it ends.
What if we knew how to deal with the shame? What if we could rewrite the stories and narratives we have been fed and programmed with and create new empowering beliefs that supported us? What if we could let go of the shame, the guilt, the embarrassment, the pain, and the trauma that lives in our bodies stored up because we didn’t know how to deal with it? What if we could clear all the icky stuff out of our bodies and just deal with life as it comes in the present? What if we had tools and support for dealing with shame as it shows up and moving through to let it go so it doesn’t rule our lives?
Here are the steps for dealing with the uncomfortable emotions like shame, guilt and fear.
1. Witness Consciousness
Using the Tantra technique of Witness Consciousness or Mindfulness, we can notice and acknowledge that what we are feeling is shame, fear, guilt, judgement. Awareness is the first step to dealing with these uncomfortable emotions, then to acknowledge what you are feeling. Third, notice what the story is that you tell yourself that produces the uncomfortable feelings.
Shame stories generally produce the story of “I’m unlovable”, “Nobody wants me”, “I’m bad”, “I’m dirty,” “I’m a pervert”, “I’m not worthy.” and the list goes on.
Guilt stories generally are “I did something wrong”
2.Share your feelings
Once you are able to acknowledge your feelings. It can help to speak about them with a close friend, loved one or therapist. You need to feel your feelings and let them out. Speaking about them can help you to release them. It is vulnerable to speak about your uncomfortable feelings and can create closeness and intimacy with those you are willing to share with. They generally will feel honored that you are willing to be open and vulnerable with them.
3. Express your emotions
Cry. Feel the feelings fully and release them. It’s okay to cry when you feel like it. It’s okay to be emotional regardless of whether you are young or old man or woman. Repressing your feelings merely helps you to hold on to them and can cause further mental and even physical damage to your body. The practice of Tantra has a variety of techniques that enable one to embody, express and release emotional blocks and paradigms that no longer serve us. Embodyment is far more powerful than just thinking about an emotion, as our bodies carry muscle memory and have an intelligence of their own.
Tonglin Breath is one example of a technique to shift your emotional state.
A practice you can do to release these feelings is to breathe in slowly and deeply breathing in all the discomfort of your feelings into your body, then releasing them and turning them into happiness as you exhale slowly through your mouth. This is alchemy breathing discomfort into happiness and relaxation. Continue this breath for as long as it takes to release these feelings.
Shake it out
You may also shake it out to let loose the hold these feelings have on you. Often times the uncomfortable feelings can make us freeze in paralysis or want to run and flee. Choosing instead to dance and shake it out as you shake out every part of your body can physically release the feelings and change your state bringing you back into a state of happiness, calmness and relaxation.
Once you have recognized what the stories are that create the uncomfortable feelings. Choose new stories that empower you. Rewrite the stories from the past. As you continue to rewrite the limiting stories of your past, you will feel more and more empowered and the feelings of shame, guilt, fear and judgement will lessen. Remember it’s a process and one many of us work on for our whole lives.
Example of rewriting the stories of shame:
“I’m a pervert” > “It’s okay for me to explore my sexuality and to like different things”
“I’m unworthy of love” > “I am worthy of love. I am lovable”
“I’m dirty” > “I’m pure”
You can create affirmations and say them to yourself and write them down and place them in places you will see everyday to remind me of who you truly are.
Human sexuality is naturally varied. It is normal healthy behavior to want to engage sexually with others as well as self. It is normal healthy behavior to desire to engage with both sexes. It is normal for you to desire to be with multiple partners throughout your life. It is normal for you to desire to explore kinks and fetishes. The more you explore your sexuality and embrace your desires within consenting adult relationships, the healthier your sex life will be and the more passionate your relationship can be.
We receive such poor education on sexuality growing up from school, religion and porn it’s no wonder we become adults with issues around sex. We know nothing about it yet we are expected to be good at it naturally. And when we aren’t we feel like we are less. I recommend strongly that people take into their own hands to receive positive sexual education as adults.
Learning Tantra you will learn to combine sexuality with spirituality, connect your heart with your sex, be in your body now, and expand into heightened states of bliss. The Tantric path is one of acceptance and love. Tantrics embrace everything, judging nothing. You can have everything you desire and fully enjoy your experience of life in a human body here and now. So learn something new in the realm of sexuality and take a class or receive private guidance. Be open to exploring all that life has to offer and life will be all the richer for it.
Melanie and Scott McClure