When was the last time you experienced a fierce throb burn in your loins and travel through your body like electricity?
When did you last experience intense desire and passion consume you like wildfire?
If you’re experiencing sexual repression your answer will probably be “once in a blue moon,” or perhaps even “NEVER.” Unfortunately, this may mean that you suffer from a host of physical and emotional problems such as fatigue, chronic tension, low self-esteem, irritability, aggression, and insomnia.
Fortunately, you are not alone. Many people in our society live with overt and unabashed sexual repression. In fact, if you grew up in a highly conservative and/or religious environment, chances are that you possess some warped beliefs and ideals about sex and sexuality. Even if religion wasn’t part of your childhood environment, you may still be impacted by social standards or even lifestyle choices (like being too sedentary).
Sexual repression is a major issue in our world.
It was psychotherapist Sigmund Freud who once declared that sexual repression is the chief psychological problem that we face in society.
Until this very day, a large percentage of us struggle to enjoy and honor sex fully thanks to the centuries of religious dogma that have been ingrained into our psyches.
If you had a similar upbringing to me you would have been taught “to wear modest clothing under all circumstances,” (in my case it was long skirts past the knees) “to ONLY have sex when you get married because otherwise you’ll be a fornicator,” “to protect your ‘private parts’,” and “to not fiddle with your bits because it causes blindness” (*masturbation myths may vary*).
Really, there are dozens of other bizarre teachings out there about sexuality that I haven’t mentioned here. These teachings can be subtle and quiet, or loud and blatant.
Today we will explore sexual repression, an issue which is often hidden away in the depths of our Shadow Selves. As you’ll discover, learning to explore and embrace your sexuality is vital in order to be a physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually balanced person.
What is Sexual Repression?
Put simply, sexual repression is the experience of being unable to express one’s natural sexuality in a fulfilling way. When a person is sexually repressed, their sexual urges, drives, and instincts are stunted. This inability to openly and confidently express one’s sexuality can cause tremendous unhappiness. Those suffering from sexual repression often feel lethargic, frigid, irritable, and flat out uninterested (or overly interested) in sex.
Why Does Sex Make Us Feel So Uncomfortable?
Why is it that we are fine with watching characters on TV get shot, stabbed, decapitated and violently brutalized, but not fine with watching graphic scenes of sex?
Why are we comfortable with buying our children video games that encourage killing sprees, but not comfortable with letting our children watch movies that have erotic BDSM scenes? Why do we expose and desensitize ourselves to one reality of life and not the other?
The answer lies in the way we have been conditioned by not only our parents, the media and society, but more importantly our religious institutions which have set the foundation in our society for what is valued, what is shunned, what is viewed as “right,” and what is perceived as “wrong.”
Sexual repression is the product of a mind that believes that sexuality and coitus are “wrong,” “dirty” or “immoral.” And if you’re like me, you’ve bought into these beliefs big time.
Depending on what religious environment/culture you were raised in, you may have been taught beliefs such as, “Sex is impure, you should NOT have it until you’re married,” “If a man lies with another man as he lies with a woman, he is an abomination,” “Women who have sex with unmarried men are fornicators and whores,” “Masturbation is dirty and unnatural,” “God will punish the sexually impure.”
While some parts of the world have become more liberal (thanks Tinder), almost all of us have been subliminally and unconsciously affected by the centuries of stiff-lipped Religious ethics that have gone before us. These rigid and inhumane ideologies have encouraged us to repress and shun our sexuality.
Here are some quotes that perpetuate the belief that sex and sexuality is “evil,” “wrong” and something to be “controlled” and “corrected”:
When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell “Stop!” to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind. Then recite a portion of the Bible or sing a hymn. – Mormon Guide to Self-Control
Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes. – Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Iranian cleric (1)
When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals. – Gary Potter, president of Catholics for Christian Political Action (2)
The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication – flog each of them with a hundred stripes: let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment. – Surah 24:2 (3)
Sex education classes in our public schools are promoting incest. – Jimmy Swaggart, American Pastor (4)
Neither plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor a crowd of similar evils, have resulted more disastrously for humanity than the habit of masturbation: it is the destroying element of civilized society. – The New Orleans Medical & Surgical Journal, 1850 (5)
Immoral sex is never safe sex … We are to give our body to our spouse only within the context of a permanent marriage commitment. (See Genesis 2:24.) Anything less than this dishonors the high purpose that God intends for our sexuality. Premarital sex is, therefore, self-centered —it seeks immediate physical pleasure at the expense of God’s design for us and for our partner. – Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt, The Myth of Romance
These quotes represent just a tiny speck of the endless array of dogmatic and damaging beliefs circulating sex in our society. It’s no wonder that so many of us are deeply sexually repressed.
9 Signs That You’re Experiencing Sexual Repression
Sexual repression is one of those taboo, uncomfortable topics that we’d really rather NOT think about. But the truth is that sex and sexual energy is neither a “good” or “bad” thing, as much as we’d like to compartmentalize it in man-made labels.
Sexual energy is essentially spiritual energy: it is the entire reason why we exist in the first place. When we learn to shed away the suffocating snakeskin of oppressive beliefs we have about sex, we learn to see our sexuality through innocent eyes. We learn to see that sexual energy is the source of all creativity, drive, and motivation in life. We also learn that when our sexual energy is smothered and controlled, it becomes twisted, distorted, and even dangerous (look at all the priests who are charged with pedophilia and molestation of children). Thankfully, not all of us are as severely sexually repressed.
The first step to healing your sexual repression is to admit it to yourself. Here, we’ll explore some common signs which you may be experiencing:
1. Chronic tension
The tension within your body may manifest itself as chronic neck, shoulder, hip or back pain. As a result of the tension you constantly carry, you may also suffer from chronic fatigue. Why are these symptoms linked to sexual repression? When we carry too much pent-up energy within our sacral regions (the lower belly) that is not released during orgasm, our bodies tend to store up the energy. This energy can stagnate if we don’t have an outlet to express it (such as through sex).
2. Nervousness and irritability
Feeling anxious and tightly strung can also be a product of stagnant, repressed energy. When not channeled properly (as in the practice of sexual transmutation), our sexual energy can overload our bodies making it hard for us to stay grounded. Physicians in the Victorian era referred to this as “hysteria,” or erratic and exaggerated emotions that come as a result of sexual dysfunction.
In some cases, insomnia can also be the product of bottled-up sexual energy that hasn’t been expressed or channeled appropriately.
Anger and its unfortunate siblings (violence, rage, and belligerence) also stem from sexual repression. We can see this clearly expressed in strict religious countries where the occurrences of rape, assault, and murder are high. In your own life, aggression may manifest itself as being overly judgmental, argumentative or short-tempered.
5. Erotic dreams
How frequently do you dream about sex and sexuality? If you’re having dreams about sleeping with or having intimate contact with another person (who isn’t your partner), it is likely that you are sexually repressed. The more sexually repressed you are, the more perverse your dreams will be. I recommend reading my article “Why it’s OK to be Attracted to Others in Loving Relationships.” Chances are that you have not explored or fully accepted your sexuality yet.
6. Receiving visits from “sex demons”
Legend says that the Incubi and Succubi are creatures, usually demons, which have sexual intercourse with human beings, often during the night. In the past, I’ve had quite a few people contact me asking me to explore the phenomenon of “demon sex.”
From a psychospiritual standpoint, the appearance of an Incubus or Succubus in your life is a reflection of sexual repression. As archetypes that reflect everything “bad” and “evil” about sex, the Incubi and Succubi allow us to dodge personal responsibility for engaging in the sexual act, replacing it with the belief that “the Incubus/Succubus did it to me!” Such an experience allows us to avoid the guilt and shame associated with lust, and distance ourselves from our natural sexual urges.
Are Incubi and Succubi real? They are just as real as we make them. Where do they come from? I believe they are expressions of the Shadow Self.
7. Lack of assertiveness
When we have the inability to express and fulfill our sexual needs, we often have the inability to express ourselves assertively in other areas of life. A lack of assertiveness is tied to sexual repression because it often follows the same modalities of thought: “I have to be a good person” and being good often means sitting down, shutting up, and doing what you’re told.
8. Always taking the blame
When we completely accept the people we are – the nice and nasty bits included – we don’t make apologies for who we are. Instead, we are confident in ourselves and we use our sexual energy to fuel our goals and accomplish our dreams.
However, when we haven’t honored our gifts and embraced our Shadow Selves, we tend to constantly accept blame from others because we don’t feel worthy as people. The tendency to always take the blame is linked to the tendency to shame and guilt ourselves, and this is almost always a by-product of sexual repression.
9. Excessive interest in sex
Whether you cringe and get embarrassed every time a sex scene comes on TV, or get hot and flustered while reading your 50 Shades of Grey novel, excessive importance placed in sex is frequently a sign of sexual repression (or on the other end, satyromania/nymphomania).
Examining Your Erotic Wound
Before we get to the meaty part about how to deal with your sexual repression, it’s really important that you examine the source of your discomfort with all things sex.
When and where did your erotic wound begin? At what point in your life did you start becoming uncomfortable with your body and its urges?
For most of us, our erotic wounds began in early childhood. Stop now and think about your parent’s approach to sexuality. What faint glances, expressions, and tones can you remember your parents using when they were met with displays of eroticism? How comfortable versus uncomfortable where they with the carnal side of life?
The reality is that most of us received a poor education about sex, and many of us were even shamed, punished or rejected as children whenever we touched our genitals or played “doctor” with other kids. Unfortunately the reactions we had from our parents towards sensuality in our earlier life mold the reactions we have towards sex in our current lives.
Examples of sexual repression in your family may include:
- Discomfort with any form of nudity
- Discomfort when sex scenes appear on the TV or in movies
- Shaming sexual expression (e.g. “Don’t be a dirty girl, take your hands out of your pants”)
- Labeling sex “dirty,” “bad” and/or “wrong”
- Secrecy surrounding sex and sexuality in the family
- Rigid gender roles
- Intolerance towards any form of sexual expression
As a baby lying on your change table, you were never sexually repressed. This wound has been inherited by you, but you DON’T have to let it control your life.
Other reasons for the erotic wound include:
- Low self-esteem
- Body insecurity
- Having been sexually abused
Note: If you were raped or sexually abused I recommend that you seek out psychotherapeutic guidance if you haven’t already before applying the advice in this article. This is a vital step in your process of healing and regeneration.
7 Things You Can Do to Heal Sexual Repression
First of all, take this journey slowly and steadily. Remember that you are the master of this ship – no one else is. Don’t jump to extremes and buy a bondage suit straight away (unless you feel ready). On the other hand, don’t leave this article resolving to do nothing for that would be even worse.
Also, none of these activities are compulsory: you are free to pick and choose as you wish.
1. Record your experiences in a journal or private diary
Writing down your thoughts will help you to verbalize and process your sexual healing, as well as your beliefs and hidden feelings about sex in general. You may like to start off your journey with this activity and return to it every time you have a new experience.
2. Explore self-pleasure
Self-pleasure (or “masturbation”) elicits feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment within us. Thanks to religious thought, self-pleasure has been labeled as evil, wrong, or even dangerous (“Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten”), not to mention the fact that it is regarded as a “sin” that will land you straight in Satan’s lap.
You may have even been punished as a child for fiddling with your male/female parts. All of these experiences combined don’t create a favorable image of self-pleasure in our minds. Unsurprisingly, these feelings and beliefs cause us to have a negative knee-jerk reaction every time we do “venture into the wilderness” because they are so deeply ingrained in us.
If you’d like to explore the philosophical/historical reasons behind demonizing self-pleasure, I recommend reading “Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.” Otherwise, I’d encourage you to have a long hard think about self-pleasure and why exactly it feels so “bad” or “wrong” to you. You may like to record your thoughts in a private journal as you do this.
When you feel ready, you may like to explore the “anatomy” of self-pleasure and how to enjoy and benefit from the experience (if you like facts, read some benefits). Otherwise, explore some relevant books (like this one) and some relevant online stores (like this).
3. Learn to ENJOY sex
Learn how to communicate your sexual desire.
If you have a partner, one of the most powerful ways to intensify your sex life is to discover what turns you on versus what is uncomfortable or annoying during sex.
In order to communicate what arouses you, you need to pay attention to your body. Let sex become a moving form of meditation. Allow all of your thoughts to slip away as your awareness centers on the smells, tastes and tactile sensations of intercourse. Once you are aware of what is erotically stimulating to you, make sure you communicate that to your partner whether during sex, or in the aftermath.
You may even like to show your partner where you like to be touched. Your partner will appreciate your sexual assertiveness and confidence, and this will actually boost your sex appeal.
4. Allow yourself to feel desirable
When we experience sexual repression it is common for us to feel undesirable, even ugly or unworthy. Thankfully this is a deception! You are as desirable as you make yourself regardless of your weight, or how many muscles you do or don’t have.
Feeling desire for another is really about connecting to their essence. If you are in a relationship, you may like to start by making eye contact with your partner while making love. Focus on the passion in their eyes and the way they look at you. Allow this to sink in.
However, the most powerful way to feel desirable is to respect and accept who you are. Learning to love yourself is a wonderful place to begin accepting your sexual nature. Obviously, a part of loving yourself is practicing good hygiene, eating clean food, getting enough exercise, and sometimes even expressing yourself through the clothes you wear. Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself! Do whatever makes you feel sexy – mindfully of course!
5. (For women) try belly-dancing
The undulating hip movements, the exotic music, the arabesque clothing … belly-dancing is a powerful way to reconnect with your femininity. As a woman who suffers from the Mother Wound, I initially cringed at the thought of trying out belly-dancing. “I’m not a dancer,” I first thought, “and besides, I’ll look ridiculous.”
The truth is that belly-dancing was threatening to me because I had denied my femininity for so long, so I closed myself off to it with skepticism and negative self-beliefs. Be wary of this. While belly-dancing may not be for you, I recommend trying it out at least once (seriously) if you are a female.
The act itself of rotating the hips allows us to tap into our primal kundalini energy (which is by nature sexual). You may find that after one single session of belly-dancing you feel much more connected to your body. You’ll probably even find it to be a great workout, with the bonus of feeling like a goddess!
6. Express your sexuality through art
We are all artists at heart, and art is ironically an expression of primal (or sexual) energy. We all want to create something, whether that is a new being through sexual intercourse or a painting through deep passion and inspiration.
There are many forms of art. I encourage you to explore a type of art that you’ve never tried before – but one that “attracts” you.
How can you express your sexuality through painting, sculpting, drawing, writing, dancing or singing? It’s simple: focus on the untapped sexual energy within you and learn to channel it through what you do. You may even be overwhelmed by how much erotic force you have repressed inside. Just make sure that you take regular breaks, eat, drink and sleep. Sexuality can be a ferocious force when finally embraced.
7. Watch, read, explore …
If you’ve always had an interest in strip clubs … go! Allow the dirty and taboo element of such places to be explored consciously and thoughtfully. If you shy away from sex-filled dramas and movies, open yourself up to watching them. If you think you may enjoy erotic stories, experiment with reading a few. Slowly push the boundaries of your sexual experience and reflect on the impact they have on your life.
Something Final to Remember
Sexual repression doesn’t just disappear overnight (although that is certainly within the realms of possibility)! You may find that as you explore your sexuality you begin feeling comfortable with sex and your body … but then retreat and feel tense again after a while. This is OK and perfectly normal. You are slowly re-programming yourself to view sex in a healthy way.
Also remember to be gentle, kind, forgiving and loving towards yourself. You may discover many things about your sexuality that you never knew before. Like many, you may slip into the habit of judging and punishing yourself on an unconscious level for tastes or habits you perceive as “disgusting” or “wrong.” For example, when I started this journey I discovered that I am as equally attracted to females as I am to males. Uncovering strange and even unorthodox things about our sexuality can be confronting, but it can also be liberating.
Finally, please understand that sex is a natural function of life. It is as natural as going to the toilet, sleeping, eating or laughing – and why shouldn’t it be? Why should it be treated any differently?