Women went through Hell over the course of history. Hard to believe that last century women in Europe and North America couldn’t vote and basically belonged to their husbands, their bodies were distorted in favor of fashion. Women were deprived of their voice and power, abused and shamed for their beauty and their bodies, the wonder of menstruation and childbirth was called unclean and also shamed. Hard to believe but in many countries around the world the situation didn't change much and women continue to live in "dark ages".
Women have been conditioned to think their bodies are ‘dirty’ or abnormal for centuries, since the transition into patriarchy about 12,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture and land ownership.The early hunter-gatherer societies were egalitarian; some were matrifocal and matriarchal. Women were honoured as the creators of new life, and the most important deities were female.
Time changed but shame remains. Shame shows up in the physical body in many different ways. From posture challenges and chronic aches to diseases such as adrenal fatigue and digestive challenges. Shame is a mysterious, insidious, and shape-shifting emotion. It’s deeper than guilt, which is an awareness of wrongdoing and a sense of remorse. Shame is an internalization of guilt, wherein you believe there’s something inherently wrong about you. Shame and guilt are quite similar and damaging to our mental health.
Shame involves silence, secrecy, a fear of being seen, a fear of expressing, a fear of being found out. These painful, intense emotions can be very isolating, while making us feel badly and feel small. Shame is an emotion that is the result of a mental body story, cellular memory, ancestral trauma, energetic imprint, empathically responding to and internalizing the emotions and stories of others.
We pick up sexual shame from the world around us, beginning with the messages we receive as children from our parents, communities, churches, society, and culture. But not everyone realizes that we also hold memories and shame from generations of women in our lineage through our nuclear DNA, which is passed down from both the mother and the father, and mitochondrial DNA that is inherited exclusively from the mother.
A lot of the messaging may not even be overt or direct and most of us have internalized shame just from growing up in a culture that believes deeply that sex, our bodies, and our sex parts are bad and “dirty”. Until just a year ago, in “Terminologia Anatomica,” the international dictionary of anatomical terms, the Latin term for the vulva — including the inner and outer labia, the clitoris and the pubic mound — was pudendum. It translates: the part to be ashamed of. And there was no such equivalent word for male genitals.
For many, sex elicits so much shameful anxiety that it’s no wonder there’s a loss of libido or an inability to climax and more!
Shame of enjoying ourselves, shame of how we’ll be perceived by our partners, or shame of how our bodies look. Shame of looking or sounding weird, shame of being too experienced, shame of being inexperienced. Shame of taking too long, shame of not taking long enough.
Because sexual shame can fly so far under the radar, many may not realize how it can stand in the way of confidence, intimacy, and establishing healthy relationships with partners, sex, and self-pleasure. That's why identifying the common thoughts, feelings, and behavioral patterns associated with sexual shame is the first step to overcoming it.
Below, find the signs of sexual shame and a stating guide to overcome it:
1. Insecurity with the self. Sexual shame often manifests as a disconnection from the self. According to research, people who are not comfortable with the appearance of their genitals may experience a flood of intense self-judgment after sex or self-consciousness or body insecurity during sex.
2. Physical stature or diminished voice: frequently cross your arms, hunch your shoulders, slouch, or struggle to make or hold eye contact with partners. Also, the voice may be affected in that there is a general inhibition to make sound during sexual exploration.
3. Sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction. Sexual response typically reflects sexual energy that flows freely. When shame is present, it constitutes a closed state in which sexual energy cannot flow to produce arousal, excitement, or orgasm.
4. Trouble with intimacy and relationships, when shame is expressed through avoidance or being shut down and inhibited. Each of these responses is a form of distancing from the action or activity and in this way, shame can lead you to forms walls, limits, and boundaries that may make relationships feel less secure and intimate. So many people avoid dating for years because they are terrified of what would happen if they got close enough to someone to become sexually intimate.
5. Viewing sex as “bad”, "dirty"or something that you “shouldn’t do”.
Some experience deep regret and shame immediately after any sexual encounter. Also, shaming children of masturbation is extemely damaging because as children, masturbation is our first method to connect with our genitals and sexual pleasure and they continue to carry this "shame" as adults.
6. Uncomfortable talking about sex or body parts. Some people feel nervous, or a deep burning embarrassment, when the topic of sex comes up.
To admit to what you’re ashamed of is the first step in overcoming. Once sexual shame is in the light of awareness, than you can work with the problem and dissolve it more easily.
The benefits of confronting and releasing sexual shame are enormous and they begin with... Pleasure!
Can you imagine being able to experience a better sexual response, get beyond sexual dysfunction, and perhaps the experience of high desire and orgasms that were inhibited before?
When you’re ready to release sexual shame, the first step is to remove yourself from the source and then—whether that source is a friend, parent, media outlet or otherwise—to set your boundaries and set yourself for success to heal.
Flowers have been symbols of sexuality since ancient times, known to arouse and delight all of the senses. Shakespeare sprinkles his plays with hints of flowers and something more, using the flower to stand in for female and even male genitalia. Of course, as the sexual organs of plants, flowers are sexual by nature. Because flowers and sexuality make such good bedfellows, flower essences can be used as a powerful remedy to promote sexual exploration and healing.
Flower essences are a vibrational medicine (like homeopathy, sound, or crystals) that bring the resonance of healing flowers into the subtle energy system. Transforming our subtle energy field in this way has a direct and immediate impact on our cells, our physical body, and our health.
Flower essence of Alpine Lily helps with integration of the feminine with female sexual and biological Self. It helps with shame on distorted cultural images of female sexuality or believes absorbed from your family.
Crab Apple assists with feeling of shame and belief that sexuality is unclean. Manzanita helps with accepting the body and feeling good about our physical nature.
Pink Monkeyflower brings ability to express feelings of love and intimacy, counteracts fear of exposure, shame of sexual organs often due to past violation or abuse.
Sticky Monkeyflower helps with fear of intimacy, help to mindfully acknowledge and direct your sexual energy, balance repressed or overactive sexuality.
Plant remedies can help you to deal with shame and discover you healthy sexuality and sensuality. Flower essences, essential oils and herbal extracts are powerful healing tools that our ancestors used for ages. They can help in so many ways:
Open you up for an intimate dialog with your romantic partner to express your desires and fantasies. And also, to allow yourself to be trusting and vulnerable: talk about your fears, insecurities, shameful believes around your body. Allow your partner to hold space for you. Intimacy is a close familiarity, closeness, and open heartedness on an emotional level, besides the more popular intimate physical and sexual relationship.
Essential oils are another valuable companions for emotional healing when working with sexual shame. Smell is the only one of our five senses that is directly linked to the lobe of the brain that houses our emotions and is shown to have a direct effect on the limbic system. Along with all positive emotions, negative emotions such as fear, anger, depression, and anxiety originate from this area.
Essential oils address symptoms at a cellular level by deleting misinformation and reprogramming correct information so that cells function properly and in harmony with one another.
Rose Otto can rightfully be called “The essential oil of LOVE” as it is physically and emotionally good for the heart. It supports the circulatory system, enhances self-esteem and desire, combats stress and nervous tension and even increases semen production.
Bergamot helps us transfer love back to ourselves. We can be so fixated on wanting other people to make us happy that we forget we can do that for ourselves. Bergamot is uplifting, has natural anti-depressant properties, and helps us to relax and regain self-confidence again.
In addition to alleviating and eliminating depression, Frankincense is known as the “Oil of Truth”, revealing deceptiveness and false truths, in this case related to your sexual energy and sexual expression. It invites the individual to let go of lower vibrations, insults, and negativity.
Patchouli counteracts nervousness, anxiety, oversensitivity, and depression by putting problems into perspective and releasing deeply stored and accumulated emotions. It has ability to ground and stabilize the mind when overthinking and worry take over, in our case before or during sex. It balances excessive mental activity and nervous strain, feeling "out of touch" with your body and sensuality.
Black Pepper Essential Oil is warming and spicy - strengthening circulation and stimulating sexual appetite.
Ylang Ylang essential oil with its seductive floral scent is a natural antidepressant that increases sexual desire, encourages sexual attraction, supports the circulatory system and is considered one of the most POWERFUL essential oil aphrodisiacs.
Maitri Verde's True Self Tranquility, Confidence and Release Aroma formulas contain the powerful healing essential oils mentioned above.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your adventure into using aphrodisiac oils:
Make a delicious massage oil by blending a few drops of one of the oil listed above with a carrier oil such as jojoba. Or use True Self Tranquility or Confidence roll-ons for a delicate sensual massage of yourself or your partner.
Inhale directly from the bottle for 3-5 deep calming breaths into your belly.
Add a few drops of your favorite oil blend on cotton pads and tuck them into pillows.
Create a romantic and relaxing bath by adding a few drops of Confidence or Tranquility on your body or in water.
Anoint your lower belly (the seed of your 2nd chakra), your heart and breasts and your inner thighs.
Explore our Relationships & Sexuality collection to find products that can help heal the trauma and limiting believes about your sensuality and sexuality.
There is a lot of additional help available to you and a lot of practitioners that specialize on toxic shame and sexual trauma. It is important to find the right person that has a lot of experience and, most importantly - whom you trust and feel comfortable sharing everything. If you don't trust or feel ashamed sharing the truth - you are creating shame around the existing sexual shame.
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy can help an individual explore sexual shame by figuring out what it is, where it comes from, and how it is impacting the individual's life and sexuality. Treatment is geared towards education, understanding, and self-acceptance.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is a type of psychotherapy that teaches individuals different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to unhelpful thoughts. Individuals with sexual shame often have constructed disruptive narratives. Cognitive restructuring helps the individual learn how to identify, challenge, and neutralize these maladaptive thoughts.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness-based approaches have been shown to be useful with helping individuals accept themselves for who they are and detach from toxic shame.
Inner work: Getting courage to admit a problem and finding specialist that will help you, sensual self-care, and self-pleasing can all help, as can educating yourself with books (such as The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, Pussy, a Reclamation by Regina Thomashauer, and Sex for One by Betty Dodson).
Please keep in mind that in the early stages of processing shame, things can sometimes feel worse before they get better. This is a natural part of the process and needs to be honored with a great deal of loving compassion! Allow yourself time. Set boundaries. Search for help and for practitioners that are right for YOU!