Many of our sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours as grown-ups are shaped by how we were raised and what we were programmed with as children. The first experiences of our early childhood lives are our strongest and most nostalgic memories of physical, emotional and sexual intimacy; every look we were given, every word we were told, every touch we received, and every reaction we felt about our bodies and our sexuality is remembered in our subconscious minds and in our bodies.
This early life “sexual imprinting” or erotic transference has left many of us constantly haunted by lack of sexual confidence — feelings of a sense of inner emptiness, of something missing or lost, a feeling of shame or guilt, anxiety, or inadequacy. Even our language and voice reflect this disconnection – dry, shallow, empty, and held back. Our bodies rigid, inflexible and restricted in those parts of the body we associate with the sexual and/or sex.
How you know you are sexually repressed…
1. You are sexually inhibited and may see anything sexual as something dangerous that can interfere with the proper conduct of the “good” man or woman — so you’ve been told.
2. Your whole life is constructed in such away that your sexual nature, desires, and urges are separate from other parts of your life. For example, you see yourself as a professional, business person, a politician, an activist, a teacher, a doctor, a parent, etc., but not as a sexual professional, sexual politician, sexual doctor, or even a sexual parent.
3. Your approach to sexuality is of a purely cognitive construct within a purely linguistic domain. For example, you can be so good at putting your sexual feelings and sensations in written word but have no idea what to do with your sexual feelings and sensations when with a real alive and breathing man or woman — and you always have a problem understanding the sexual feelings, sensations and experiences of your partner.
4. You are uncomfortable with and dread sexual intimacy. For example, you may be physically “attractive” in the social sense of the word, but you still find yourself avoiding social contacts that are likely to lead to intimacy. You may also be “okay” being with others as long as you are able to keep them at a distance. As soon as things begin to feel intimate, you either cut off further contact or at least discourage it.
5. You may enjoy and find pleasure in certain sexual activities like hugging, touching, and kissing but experience feelings of terror, disgust, or revulsion when it comes to specific kinds of activities, such as sexual intercourse or contact with genitals.
6. You are not just physically but also sexually clumsy because you do not know you have access to the natural way of being sexually comfortable in your own skin — and sexuality.
7. And sex -that is just another routine chore to keep you in cycle or to keep your spouse happy enough to stay in the relationship.
How you know you are sexually immature…
1. You treat your sexual thoughts, urges, and desires merely as a form of entertainment, amusement or distraction.
2. You see “sex” in words, images or things most people would not necessarily consider “sexual” in nature.
3. You have an overwhelming need to express an over-sexualized image or to engage in compulsive, frequent, and meaningless sexual pursuits in order to appear “sexually dominant” or “sexually desirable”.
4. You try to hide your fear of the opposite sex, your inexperience and/or discomfort with sexuality with (age) inappropriate sexual jokes and tasteless sexual content.
5. In the struggle to master your own sexual anxieties, you may feel the need to exhibit parts of the body you associate with sex – grabbing the crotch (a’ la Michael Jackson), flashing your breasts, exposing your buttocks, etc. – while reveling in the “shocked” response of your audience.
6. When your sexual needs are not met, you react with the emotional tendencies you learned in childhood – sulking, withdrawal, manipulation, nagging, neediness, clinginess, etc. You also revert, frequently, to well-rehearsed one-person sexual activities where you feel confident and competent.
How you know you are sexually dysfunctional…
1. You struggle with sexual thoughts and desires and pretend that, at best, sexual desire does not exist or that all attention to sexuality is debasing and unwanted.
2. You experience anxiety and even panic at the thought of any sexual interaction because the “sexual” makes you feel like you are on “dangerous” ground.
3. You’ve never allowed or been able to let your erotic energy flow and take possession of your sexuality in a way that it is revitalizing, uplifting, and spiritually elevating.
4. You feel the need to hide those “dirty sexual” parts of your body.
5. There is a disconnect between your sexual thoughts, your sexual feelings, and your sexual organs.
6. Your sexual thoughts are often out-of-control and your sexual behaviour is more compulsive than thought through.
7. You rely on sex for comfort from pain, as an escape from boredom, for relief from stress, anxiety, and to hide the inner pain.
8. Your sexual desires and erotic yearning is sublimated into worlds of fantasy such as pornography.
9. You engage in sex out of a disturbed need for power, dominance, control, revenge, or a perverted expression of anger.
So now you know that you are sexually repressed, or sexually immature or sexually dysfunctional, now what”
The first step is wake up to your early life “sexual imprinting” — deep feelings, repressions, guilty feelings, or unexpressed fears about your sexual being-ness.
Waking up to your early life “sexual imprinting” can be something of a revelation. With hindsight you will probably be able to see how these beliefs have had a huge impact in your life — and relationships. You might even be left wondering why you didn’t make the connection before!
Hopefully this exercise will lead you to uncover some of your “hidden” beliefs.
1. Start by listing some of the beliefs about sexuality, sex, and the erotic you are already consciously aware of. Here are a few examples to get you started:
— Sex is a dangerous, destructive, and negative force.
— Sex must only happen when a man initiates it.
— Any woman who initiates sex is a slut.
— Women are offended by men who act sexual towards them.
— Men who love sex are players.
— Sex is unimportant.
— Sex is boring.
— It is wrong to have sexual fantasies.
— Seduction is always selfish.
Feel free expand on these as you like. Be sure to make statements rather than questions. Word your statements to avoid negatives -“not,” “isn’t” “don’t,” and so on.
2. Once you’ve exhausted everything, begin testing these beliefs by asking questions: Where or from whom did I get this idea, thought, or belief? What affect does this belief have on my life/relationships? Is this belief valid in my life today? Does this belief support or limit me? Is this belief still proven valid by the truth as I know it? Do I have all the information I need to justify applying this belief to every similar situation, event, person, or relationship? Could I change my attitudes, thoughts, or beliefs if necessary?
As you go through the exercise, think about what it says about who you are. Be gentle and free of judgment as you explore your inner world.
Keep in mind that no attitudes, beliefs, dreams, fantasies, desires, urges, fears, anxieties, experiences, and hang-ups are stupid, bad, or even wrong. They served a healthy purpose at some point in your life but old attitudes, beliefs, dreams, etc., can become a mismatch as you change, grow, and accumulate experiences.
Overturning your deeply-rooted patterns of thought and behaviour is only the beginning. The next step is to replace those patterns of thought and behaviour with sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours that allow you to connect with and express who you really are — as a sexual being. That is before you took on your parents’ or caregivers or even society’ sexual anxieties, fears, and mis-education as your own ideas, beliefs and behaviours.