I believe one of the most damaging and toxic emotions human beings deal with is shame. In my work with people around sexuality it seems to rear its insidious head a lot. Of all of the emotions, this one seems unnatural, yet self-cultivated.
Shame is manifested by our perception of what others think of us or what we do. We perceive ourselves to be somehow flawed or not worthy. Around sexuality, it creates a belief that part of ourselves is unworthy, dirty or toxic. Our response is to hide it, disown it and push it down. The problem is this only makes the triggering of it more likely; especially when we believe others are judging us . We read the world through our filters of others expectations.
When we let go of the secret parts we usually hide from others, the results can be a huge release.
I notice that when my clients share how they feel about the part of themselves they are ashamed of, they can start their healing process. A beneficial release of the toxic stranglehold this poisonous emotion has over us.
It makes a difference to stop presenting to the rest of the world the safe version of ourselves. We need to find the courage to express ourselves vulnerably exactly as we are, warts and all. This creates a healing of our psyche on a deep level.
My own experiences of shame were often based around my sexuality. As I started to experience my sexual energy, as any child does, I took in the message it was somehow wrong to be openly sexual. When I reached a certain age nudity was suddenly inappropriate, this was confusing.
Often our adult sexual turn-ons or fantasies can be shaped by early experiences in life, many are sourced in the very conflicts around the conditioning or sexual beliefs of our caregivers and those we looked up to. This results in feeling ashamed of these parts of ourselves, they are stored in our shadow side .
As a boy and young adolescent certain experiences around much older women, left me feeling vulnerable, unsafe and confused. This shaped and pushed down a part of me that I perceived as wrong or shameful. I also had a feeling of shame around openly enjoying the sight of the naked human body.
These distorted filters can live with us our whole lives if we don’t become conscious to them.
I explored sexuality based workshops to become more comfortable around my sexual self. As well – as cultivating greater sexual and self-expression, I found this area spoke to me and fulfilled me on a deep level. I discovered I loved working with people who needed the kind of education and support I’d found. I was especially attracted to bodywork, I’d had huge awakenings myself while receiving it. Now I work with clients at a somatic level as well, creating a safe space for people to drop into their body, feel and express. I’m creating openings to allow a letting go of deeper, most- repressed parts.
The deeper and deeper I was drawn into this work for myself, I realised it’s what I really wanted to do for others. But I also started to realise I had difficulty talking about my new vocation with people. Shame was here once again, rearing its ugly head. I was not fully comfortable disclosing this to others, thinking I would be judged for it, instead of fully owning what made me happy.
For me shame has been a spiralling descent into unworthiness and uncomfortable physical feelings. These feelings would swamp me in self-conscious discomfort, my breathing would become shallow, I would feel hot and start to sweat profusely and my body would tense. I just wanted to escape or disappear.
During my sexuality trainings I was encouraged to talk about the parts I disowned. To bring light into the darkness, it was difficult but felt like a heavy weight being lifted off me.
When we are given a trusted safe container to express ourselves openly without fear of judgement magic can happen. We can feel truly alive and free perhaps for the first time in our lives. It also gives us practice to exercise this part of us and stop living through our filters of others expectations.
What do you hide from the rest of the world because you believe you would not be accepted because of it? Not allowing people to fully see you out of concern for what they may think?
When I found the courage to disclose this part of myself, it resulted in huge relief. There were people in my life who resisted this, it pushed their buttons. But the liberation I felt in finally speaking my truth and showing myself fully makes this insignificant . I am finally living from a place that feels true for me and will attract into my life people and situations that truly fulfil my body, mind and soul. Life becomes a self-fulfilling open hearted adventure.