Exploring your Sexual Shadow has the potential to transform not only your sex life and sexual relationships but every single aspect of your human experience; love life, work, creative pursuits, and relationship with money as well.
In this article, we will explore together; what sexual Shadow is. Why is it so potent, and how can you practice it and reap its benefits in your life?
The term “sexual shadow” originated from Carl Jung’s work, the Shadow, shadow self or “Shadow work.” It basically refers to the hidden unconscious aspect of oneself, these parts of ourselves that we are too ashamed or too afraid to touch.
And the idea is that as long as something is in the shadows of our human experience, it is controlling our life, and by making the unconscious conscious, we take back the power of our own reality and become whole.
Or in the words of Jung: “one does not get enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Today, we’re going to focus specifically on the sexual aspects of Shadow work.
When you do sexual shadow work, your own sexuality, sexual behaviors and ability to show up in relationships and express yourself intimately are going to alter and improve in very meaningful ways.
Common Sexual Shadow Traits
Let’s go over some of the most common sexual shadows that you can recognize in yourself and your own sexuality right now, in your past self, or perhaps in other people or past partners. It’s a fun game to play with yourself.
The People Pleasing Sexual Shadow
This is when we are afraid of expressing our true desires and sexual fantasies, set healthy boundaries and say “no” when and where we really should.
It can also show up in being too fixated on making a partner orgasm, avoiding giving feedback or directions on how to give us pleasure, as well as avoiding arguments and conflict at all costs.
This Shadow stems mostly from fear, fear of abandonment, and loneliness. We are afraid of expressing what we really want and who we truly are out of fear of being judged and abandoned.
Body Image Sexual Shadow
Another big one for a lot of us has to do with self-esteem, body image issues, and performance anxiety. Everything that has to do with how you feel in and about your body, the way you perceive and express yourself.
It can show up as not liking certain body parts. It can show up as a variety of “Performance anxiety,” being afraid that you are not gonna get hard, last long, or be able to give your partner pleasure and satisfaction. This Shadow stems mostly from shame.
Hyper-Sexual Activity Sexual Shadow
This Shadow is about engaging in sexual activities impulsively in a way that does not feel good, safe, healthy, or empowering.
It can be anything from excessive masturbation that feels like it takes away from other things that are important to you in life.
Feeling the need or impulse to engage in sexual interactions with people despite not feeling genuinely attracted or interested in them as a human beings and not just as a sexual object that you want to fuck.
Another way this Shadow often shows up, especially for men, is around watching pornography and feeling ashamed about it.
Dishonesty Sexual Shadow
This one is my personal pet peeve and has been a crucial element in my own personal journey of growth; becoming a more mature man and a much better lover as a whole is working with dishonesty and a lack of integrity around sexuality.
Anything from not disclosing your sexual health and relationship status with sexual partners to leading people on with false expectations by being unclear about your intentions.
As well as cheating or even just downplaying your attraction to others in a relationship dynamic.
The Religious Sexual Shadow
Another shadow that a lot of you may be familiar with is holding shame, guilt, and fear that stem from religious or orthodox upbringing around any aspect of your sexual expression, masturbation, and pleasure as a whole. “Am I worthy of experiencing pleasure?” “Is it okay for me to desire that?”
Many of us grew up in religious or orthodox backgrounds. But even those who didn’t, there is a lot of taboo and hidden and shameful mentality around sexuality still, and that can be instilled in us from a very young age in a variety of ways by our parents and our environment.
How To Do Sexual Shadow Work?
If you do a simple google search about “Shadow work,” you will quickly discover many modalities and practices that usually suggest working with a journal and giving yourself specific questions that can help you uncover your Shadow.
It’s all very psychoanalytical and therapeutic, and it all revolves around intellectual exploration.
And as much as these methods are helpful in uncovering some hidden inner truths, I personally believe through my own living experience as well as working with hundreds of people that only developing self-awareness is simply not enough.
You can be painfully aware of your deepest shades, fears, and shame and still be totally stuck without an embodied path moving forward on how to metabolize, alchemize and work with the inner world patterns you uncovered.
That’s what I’m interested in, and going to share it with you here today.
One of the most prominent intellectual ways to do shadow work is to ask yourself a series of deep and honest questions; for example, say you experience the people-pleasing Shadow. You can ask yourself and write down the following:
Q: Why am I afraid of speaking my deepest desires, or setting clear boundaries? What will happen if I do?
A: I’m afraid that my partner will reject me or laugh at me.
Q: Why is my partner judging me a bad thing?
A: Because then maybe they will leave me. And I’m afraid of staying alone.
Q: Why am I afraid of staying alone?
A: Because I’m afraid of never getting into a relationship and maybe dying alone.
And so on and so forth, you can apply this to any behavioral pattern in your life, and this is just an example; when you do it, you may discover different answers, which will ultimately all lead to fear of being unworthy/unlovable and the fear of death.
Embodied Sexual Shadow Work
Over the years, I’ve developed a few practices that aim to touch the shadows and unconscious patterns from a more holistic, embodied perspective.
But remember, non of it belongs to me, it is all a product of relying on many other practitioners, scholars, and wisdom traditions that came before me; I am just finding my own unique and artistically playful way of expressing them.
I’ll share some of them with you here, three in particular:
Masturbation As A Self-Growth Tool
The first step on this journey is starting with yourself with what I like to call mindful self-pleasure. Put the porn aside, remove orgasms from the agenda, and intentionally go and touch yourself to allow whatever wants to come up.
Take deep breaths to your stomach and exhale with a sigh, rest your awareness on the breath, and start touching yourself in whatever way feels good.
You will slowly start noticing things coming up, thought patterns, shadow aspects, feelings, and sensations that were all waiting to be acknowledged and seen. All you want to do is simply be there when it happens.
That’s it. Become comfortable holding whatever is coming up for you, whether you are feeling emotionally open or close, physically sensitive or numb. Whether you are feeling sadness or joy, excitement or boredom.
Perhaps a thought of self-judgment about your body come up, or maybe a memory of an unpleasant sexual experience from your past. Whatever it is – let it be with total acceptance and love.
Let the inherent intelligence of your body, which carries wisdom of 13.7 billion years of evolution, take the lead. You’ll be amazed on the transformations that can naturally happen through this practice.
Practicing this regularly will contribute to the mental health of your relationship, your sense of self love and self acceptance
For a deeper dive into this practice and master awareness and sex energy, check out this free masterclass.
Couple Sex Therapy On Steroids.
This is a practice I am still developing, and an important disclaimer before engaging in this practice is to remember that this is very nuanced work.
It’s not and should not be the end all, be all of your sex therapy. It’s not gonna touch all aspects of your relationship, and not gonna heal or fix your intimate relationship by any means if there are disempowering or unhealthy underline patterns.
That being said, It has the power to disrupt ongoing shadow elements and deeply rooted patters between you and your partner in ways that I haven’t seen many therapeutic modalities able to do as well as help you uncover each other’s unconscious desires and wild fantasies.
So here’s how you’re going to do it:
Intentionality is everything; Talk about it with your partner and find a time to intentionally engage in this practice together.
Decide the general topic, point of tension, or conflict in your relationship you are going to explore in the session. (For example, having a talk about your sex life, desires, wants, needs, fears, inhibitions, etc.)
The most important thing is your mutual commitment to total honesty. Mixing in sex is helpful to make us both more vulnerable and honest, but it’s imperative you both commit to full transparency without holding anything back.
Get into a space that feels comfortable, and make sure you are both in a good headspace.
Each time one of you gives pleasure to the other while sharing your experience honestly and openly.
The one receiving pleasure ONLY listens and asks curious questions in order to fully understands the other.
Once the giver feels sufficiently satisfied and feels seen and heard, you can change roles.
You can also experiment and try out that the one sharing is also the one receiving pleasure and vice versa. There are no strict rules, be playful and find out your own unique way of doing things.
Once you are both feeling heard and seen, and things are heating up (obviously), and if you feel like it, you can continue your sexual interaction as usual and get each other to orgasm as a way to affirm the new discoveries and set intentions for the future of your relationship.
Again, this a playful type of shadow work. Find your own unique ways to play together in this way and see what works for you. Once you’re done, make sure to take sufficient time for aftercare, closeness, and intimacy. Often, and especially after vulnerable experiences, this is extra necessary.
Eroticizing Our Feelings Shadow Work
The third step in this process is quite advanced and is all about eroticizing your Shadow.
This is when we learn to not only be aware and hold our experience but sublimate it and use it in powerful ways to create magic and manifest whatever we want.
It’s When we turn things from the unconscious to the conscious, those shadows don’t dictate and determine our life and behavior anymore.
What used to be a shadow becomes part of your power, part of your ability to heal and help other people, to express yourself in more authentic, empowering ways in the world, and to live a free and extraordinary life.
With a good amount of shadow work, shame can be turned into incredible vulnerability and a deeper connection with yourself, with partners, and with life.
Fear and anxiety can be turned into courage and fearlessness, and Anger can be turned into beautiful erotic, dark ravishment.
But it can only happen when we cease to resist, hide and suppress our emotional experiences.
When we stop running away, repressing, or avoiding tension, conflict, and emotional discomfort and start welcoming it all with open arms.
We start to see that emotions are energetic tension, and tension is erotic.
Erotic Tension And Shadow Work
Ever noticed how after a fight with a partner, you often have the best sex? How is the sexual passion most alive at the beginning of a relationship and then tends to die out?
Or maybe how often do the least mutually empowering intimate relationships to have the strongest sexual fire? how the most stable, consistent, and loving partners tend to also be sexually boring?
All of these have to do with understanding the nature of erotic aliveness and sexual tension; in order for sexual desire and erotic pleasure to exist, there must be distance, space, and tension.
What’s common in all the scenarios I mentioned above is that they are all situations of heightened tension: a conflict with a partner, the mystery of discovering a new partner, the build-up of foreplay, etc.
Before we start to consciously do shadow work, we unconsciously look for this tension outside of ourselves, in our goals, in other people, and in a partner.
And we keep gravitating to situations that don’t necessarily serve us because we associate the pain and discomfort we feel in them with the thrill of erotic attraction.
Once we bring the darkness to the light of our awareness, we start seeing that there are constructive, healthy and empowering ways to create and enjoy the erotic tension of life.
We stop outsourcing our joy and pleasure externally and hang out a sense of worth, well-being, love, and satisfaction in people and the achievement of goals,
And start enjoying the sexual tension that always exists between where we are and where we want to be. Between what we are experiencing right now and what we think we want to experience.
Can you feel it? Can you find and enjoy the erotic tension in your Anger? In your shame? In your fear and discomfort? Can you see how they are all aspects of the same life force energy of aliveness?
Can you find the beauty and joy in a conflict coming up in your life or relationship? Can you deeply thrive on the sexual tension between where you’re at in your career or finances and between you want to be?
This is what shadow work and sexual shadow work is about. Learning to enjoy the journey itself, not the destination.
Learning to feel the erotics of the very movement of life permeating through you as you in every passing moment.
Celebrate and embrace every experience that’s coming your way and recognize it as an opportunity and vehicle that can take you all the way to infinity.
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