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There’s a lot of talk in the ever-growing sexually conscious community about shame. I’m completely on board with bringing awareness here and I want to add a helpful distinction.

The emotional information of shame and guilt is important to feel when we’ve done something wrong because it helps us learn. As children, if we kick someone on the playground and we are scolded, we should feel bad about this in order to fully understand why it is important to not continue this behavior.

There are two places where shame becomes detrimental to health and growth. First, when we internalize the feeling to believe that we are bad and wrong rather than our behavior being wrong. If we don’t recognize that our actions are the problem, we may internalize the shame and think we, ourselves, are the issue. This harmful internalized belief could last a lifetime, if unaddressed.

Secondly, it’s problematic to feel shame when we’ve done nothing wrong. When we feel shame for our human experiences, such as having sexual feelings, attractions, or arousal, we create a rejection of the self. When we war with our natural selves we create untold psychological, emotional, and physical consequences. An example of this is the ways religion and purity culture can instill sexual shame from an early age, which can stay with people their whole lives.

For health and growth, we must feel fantastic about who we are and reject the idea that our human nature is shameful. The bodies we are in, the feelings we feel, and the attractions we have, are glorious. Treat them as such.

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