In my work as a sex therapist I often hear people talk about the guilt or shame they feel when it comes to anything concerning sex. These two are actually different things. Guilt is about feeling bad for something we did (or want to do for that matter) and shame is about feeling like there is something deeply wrong with us as a human being.
Shame is toxic and it keeps people frozen and unable to move forward. It can stop them from having a fulfilling relationship, it can rob them of the joy of an intimate connection, it can even stop them from getting information to confront and heal their shame. Shame is self-contempt.
We learn to experience shame when we are made to feel that something we think, say or do is outside the bounds of decent human behavior. We acquire this experience and self-label because others tell us we are wrong or bad.
Okay, I think you get it, yet I wonder if you have thought about your own learning about sex, your own sex education and how that affected your willingness to teach your own children about it? These experiences and the feelings people learned probably began quite early in life and for many people, it is buried deep.
When their own children are born and start to touch their genitals or become curious about the bodies of other children, that is, when they act like normal babies, parents can be knocked off balance by emotions that emerge seemingly out of nowhere. They may feel shame and not know why. This shame impels them to avoids and shut down any normal displays of joyful exploration and continues the cycle of shame in their own children.
There is a way off this endless carousel. It happens by first acknowledging that you actually have fears, embarrassment, or shame around things sexual. It continues with an acceptance that you probably didn’t have much of a choice in what your parents (or religion or culture) could give to you. It continues when you learn more about your journey and know how to calm yourself so you can keep moving forward.
In my new book, Project Parent: Preparing Yourself for Your Child’s Sex Education, I help you step by step to explore and prepare yourself. In that process you can reduce or eliminate your shame as you write another story for you and your children.