Sexual guilt is a struggle, which takes place within ourselves—self-imposed in our own minds. Sexual guilt holds us back from open, spontaneous, and authentic expressions because we hide inside a self-evaluating shell. It keeps us from expressing our sexual desires, and feeds on our pleasures by turning them into something that we perceive as unclean.
The emotion of sexual guilt steals intimacy from lovemaking and makes sex impersonal, repetitious, and mechanical. It can make a man lose his erection and a passionate woman lose her desires. We can’t feel sexy if we feel guilty. The sexual guilt we carry with us is directly proportional to the pleasure we don’t feel.
But where does the emotion of sexual guilt come from?
None of us were born with the emotion of sexual guilt. As children, we all began as sexually innocent adventurers touching our genitals with no sense of shame or embarrassment. For us, it was a journey of discovery, wonder, and a feeling of pleasure.
Until one day, an adult made us feel guilty or embarrassed about what we were doing by saying silly things such as:
Touching yourself will make you go blind (my mother’s favorite. I am happy to report that I am in my early 30s and not only am I NOT blind, but I am not even wearing glasses.)
Stop touching your wee-wee, it’s embarrassing.
Shame, shame, shame.
Nice girls don’t do that.
It’s a sin to touch yourself.
If I catch you doing that again, you will stand in the corner until you realize what you’ve done wrong (I’ve spent hours staring at a boring wall.)
From these naïve but consequential comments and punishments, we gradually (or suddenly) learned the emotion of sexual guilt from an adult who was supposed to be our loving guardian or mentor. While we can’t blame our parents or adults (whose attitude towards sex comes from their parents who inherited Victorian taboos, religious misinformation, and centuries of ignorance) but that doesn’t have to stop us from breaking the cycle.
Unlearning Sexual Guilt
Sexual guilt is a learned emotion and the good news is, it can be unlearned.
Unlearning sexual guilt means dropping other people’s programming of your sexuality so you become free:
Free to express your desires
Free to be creative and confident
Free in your feelings
Free to experience your own pleasure the way you choose.
This doesn’t mean compromising your boundaries or having to change your values.
It’s difficult to “unlearn” long-term habits, but it’s required for healthy growth and development as you work to overcome your sexual guilt.
Here are three ways to unlearn sexual guilt:
1. Turn Guilt into Pleasure
Allow pleasure to inhibit guilt and not the other way around.
Take a step-by-step approach to ease whatever it is that makes you feel sexual guilt by getting closer to that pivotal point, but never close enough to feel guilty. Remain relaxed, but sexually excited enough to feel pleasure.
You may require a lot of sexual pleasure to block a little guilt, work your way up to an intense arousal state where you feel comfortable, warm, relaxed and yet very sexual. You want to make sure that pleasure always wins and guilt always loses so you learn how to feel and build pleasure while unlearning guilt.
With repetition, a new learning takes place. You learn to face guilt because what used to provoke discomfort will now inspire pleasure. You unlearn the guilt you used to feel. Sex isn’t always neat and clean, but that’s also what can make it fun and exciting.
2. Reflection & Expression
Most of what we have learned about sexuality comes from porn, media, our friends, and other unreliable sources.
We don’t take the time to get to know our own mind and body to ask ourselves: what really turns us on? How do we feel emotionally and spiritually about our desires?
You are the longest and closest lover you have. Take the time to learn about your body. Learn about your desires, pleasures, and how you want to express yourself. This will help you figure out your own truth instead of relying on others to tell you what you are supposed to think and feel.
3. Self Pleasure & Sexual Confidence
Self-pleasure increases our self-confidence; when we know what we need and want, we increase our emotional and physical connection to ourselves. Knowing what we are capable of experiencing and how our body receives pleasure allows us to feel great comfort with our choices and creates stronger boundaries with our partner.
You can never truly give to another what you have not accepted for yourself. When you know how to give yourself pleasure, you don’t need anyone else’s validation or permission.
Sex often brings up emotional, physical, and spiritual forces and it’s okay to just be with those feelings. Sex is a deep search to uncover, not only bodies, but also everything that is hidden within. Nature has given us one source through which we can go deep into ecstasy. Sex is beautiful and healthy—don’t resist it, and don’t repress this powerful force.