Unconscious shame is a layer of invisible behaviour that overlays the entirety of our society. It is so widespread that its effects are considered totally normal and they generally pass without notice.
This shame originates in our patriarchal past, where the system (the nation, the government, the establishment) has been considered more important than the individual.
This has created an overwhelming pressure for people to repress the aspects of themselves that conflict with societal standards—chiefly our emotions and our sexuality. It then creates anxiety over the fact that we are repressing parts of ourselves and a consequent fear of discovery.
As society has become more prosperous and we live ever more comfortably, we come increasingly into contact with the softer aspects of ourselves—including our repressed emotions and sexuality.
Shame-based conditioning is a factor in the following beliefs and behaviours.
- Shame of the body
- Squeamish at the sight of blood
- Dislike of touching and hugging
- When hugging, we back our hips away
- Anxiety, stress, panic attacks
- Lack of confidence
- Inability to cope
- Fear of change
- Fear of public speaking
- Dislike of having our photograph taken
- Vanilla sex only
- Sense of sex as dirty
- Sexual phobias of many kinds
- Difficulties in discussing sex
- Difficulties in initiating sex
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature ejaculation
My experience is that recognising, accepting and releasing unconscious shame through personal development work can alleviate or entirely resolve many of these issues.
In my case, I went from someone so petrified of public speaking I once ended up in hospital through stress to being an accomplished Toastmaster who loves public speaking.
This is not achieved overnight, nor is it achieved without painful soul-searching. But it can be done.