4 years ago

 Q. The messages I got about sex during my childhood were very strange. My parents sort of said one thing with words and implied another with their emotions and actions. Verbally they talked a good  sex-positive, progressive patter about sex being natural and good; non-verbally they implied sex was improper, dirty and shameful to want. I’ve remained emotionally ambivalent about whether sex is really okay, and tended to get involved with people who are the same way.

I’m trying to change that. I want to full –out enjoy sex without reservations, without guilt and shame and withholding. I love your pages on sexual Partnering , etc. but I’m having a damn hard time letting go of these old feelings while I’m trying.

How do you get past old baggage like this?


A. Mona-

I understand. You are not alone in suffering from the excruciating conflict that mixed messages about sex generate in our lives. I’m proud of you for seeing the issue and deciding that you want a more satisfying life.

Body Image, Core Beliefs  and Communication are the first pages on www.informedaboutsex.com that I would look at for useful  approaches to unloading old baggage. It doesn’t really do much good to skip to pages like Sensate Focus, Masturbation and Partnering when you need to get a handle on your emotional issues first.  The change you seek starts from inside, and until it’s actually occurred, sex feels like it’s ‘happening to you’ from the outside, because you are divided about what you’re doing.

From Core Beliefs:

Sexual core beliefs are the fundamental beliefs we hold about sex. They affect our sexuality more than any other factor. Often the result of early formative experiences, they are so deeply ingrained that we don’t always know that they’re there, or what they are. 

If these beliefs are positive, they affirm our sexual feelings and facilitate our ability to enjoy natural sexual feelings. But if they’re negative beliefs, they can ruin our ability to fully enjoy sex. 

Examples of negative beliefs are:  that sex is morally wrong; that the functions of the body are dirty; that nakedness is sinful; and that erotic expression should be suppressed. 

Identifying Your Core Beliefs

Core beliefs often start at a very young age. They may result from our individual observations, or they may be based on the messages that we absorb and internalize from the thoughts, attitudes, values and feelings conveyed to us by the world around us. The following exercise can help you begin to identify these beliefs.   

The more honest you can be, the more you will learn…. 

Healing emotions take time. It may take the willingness to work directly through unpleasant feelings in order to get to the good ones. Know that the good ones ARE waiting for you, and worth it! Know that the difficult feelings are what was done to you - and that you are reaching for the health underneath, the real you, which is beautiful.


-Shain  Copyright©2013 All Rights Reserved l

Shain Stodt is the founder of Informed About Sex and the founder/moderator of the Facebook page Radical Women Talk Sex. A Sex Educator (IASHS), author, and community activist,  Shain became involved in sex education with the New York Women's Center, where she worked with the pioneering Abortion and Birth Control Outreach project and lectured on sex education in the public school system. Shain also developed sexuality workshops for the Women's Center and other feminist organizations, and hosted a local cable program on sexual issues in New York City. She lives in North Carolina.

Questions for Shain? Click here.

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