How Sexual Healing Can Lead to Wholeness
Shedding the shame around sexuality.
Sexual healing is a broad topic. There is room for healing if you feel awkward, uncomfortable, restrained, or perhaps shame or distress around the topic. It can also play out through feelings of unworthiness about your body, guilt about sexual acts, feeling unattractive. Even if you are experiencing low or non-existent libido and want to get out of this sexual rut, there is room for some inner sexual healing.
Some situations call for professional help (i.e., therapy, doctor visits, etc.). But other facets of the sexual healing experience can be self-guided; the purpose of this article is to bring to light those ways you can begin your sexual self-healing journey. First, I want to invite you to clarify your intention. Next, ask yourselves where you notice the possibility of healing or growth. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but the pay-off is worth it. Finally, remember that while this healing is for yourself, it will positively impact your relationships.
First, I believe that it’s essential to rē-spin the narrative that sexual liberation and freedom mean having orgies, anal, or polyamorous. Sexual liberation is truly just the freedom to be as one desires with their sexuality, sexual behaviors, and sexual expression; it’s ultimately about enjoying the sex you have; however, you choose to have it. Sexual healing and liberation mean that you give yourself permission to follow your pleasure and desires in a way that contributes to your overall well-being.
Healing Shame Around Sexuality
Internalized shame around sex and sexuality is rampant in our culture; in that regard, it is normal but not necessary. Healing from sexual shame is a process that can require many different factors such as contemplation, reflection, movement work, therapy, reading, and much more. The point is to release us from shame, which keeps us in a state where we can’t flow and move through life with ease.
Untreated sexual shame can have emotional, spiritual, and physiological impacts on your overall body. It can look like difficulty with orgasm, pain or discomfort during sex, symptoms of anxiety, and difficulty accepting yourself or others. In my community, I see a lot of people with a lack of interest in sex, but where libido isn’t necessarily absent, they want to want sex. Still, they have been conditioned to associate shame with sexual feelings from a young age. Thus it’s a process for them to unlearn these lifelong beliefs and to own and be comfortable with their sexuality.
Some common ways that untreated sexual shame shows up? Feeling unable to ask for what you want sexually or awkward communicating about sex (even with the people you have sex with). But identifying what sex means to you, what role it plays in your life, and in your relationships is so important for establishing and setting healthy boundaries.
A Framework for Healing Sexual Shame
I want to share a framework for healing the sexual shame created by the certified sex therapist Tina Seller Schermer, with a Ph.D. in clinical sexology. In it, there are four stages: building your sexual knowledge, claiming and celebrating your sexual body, sexual storytelling, and aiming to live your sexual agency.
In Western societies, the messaging we receive around sex is that it’s merely physical, a biological need. While taught about the act or behavior of sex, the psychological, spiritual, and sociological aspects are often left out. This has left us with a very limited view of what sexuality can be and the part it plays in our lives and relationships.
So, we want to rē-spin our sex-ed by increasing our knowledge to be more expansive and to acknowledge the multiple dimensions of self and sexuality. This can be through books, short courses, podcasts, etc. My recommendations would be the book Come As You Are by Emily Nagaoski and the Sexology Podcast.
2. Claiming and Celebrating Your Sexual Body
First, consider how you feel about your body. Then, I encourage you to create love and compassion for your body. Studies show that body image can impact almost every area of our sexual behavior, including: desire, arousal, the number of partners we have, assertiveness, using drugs and alcohol during sex, and even engaging in unprotected sex.
Your attitudes and feelings towards your sexual body are linked to health and wellness. You can increase your compassion towards your body through acts of nourishment. This might mean eating healthily, listening to your body, oil massages, body brushing, positive affirmations, practicing yoga, or acknowledging the parts of your body you are grateful for and why.
3. Sexual Storytelling
Who is the sexual you? You can start by reading last month’s article on exploring your sexuality. Then, I encourage you to get out a journal and follow these prompts:
- Think about who you are sexually and who you would like to be.
- Reflect on past experiences and how they impacted your sexual beliefs.
- Do you know your conception story? What was it?
- What attitudes, beliefs, religious values, cultural values, media messages were placed on you? Which values do you still hold?
Share with trusted friends after you have reflected. There is power in telling our stories that allow us to connect, learn, and heal.
4. Aiming to Live Your Sexual Agency
This step is about owning your sexuality, rē-claiming your pleasure, positive beliefs, and healthy relationships. In the process of sexual healing, list reasons for gratitude regarding this domain of your life and have some affirmations you can repeat. Here are some examples:
- I am sexual
- I am sensual
- My worth is not found in my sexual behaviors
- I love myself
- I am intimate with myself, and I am powerful
- I call back my erotic energy
- I can heal my body and my sexual-self
Here at rē•spin, one of our pillars is Eternal. In light of this, consider the sexual legacy you want to live by and leave behind. Begin to do so by considering how your sexuality is a beautiful and sacred gift. Then, expand on ways that you can live this part of your life purposefully. Finally, begin crafting the story of sex that you would like to share with others. And when you’re ready, start living it.