Managing Fear, Shame, Embarrassment and Guilt

As humans we have many emotions; some of which feel good and others that don’t feel so good and are challenging to learn how to manage. The big four negative emotions are fear, shame, embarrassment and guilt. These are not emotions we want to eliminate, as they all serve a purpose, however we do need to know how to manage them, so we can have healthy responses and relationships. When people who want help with various areas of alternative sexuality come to see me, I am often asked if they are some kind of sexual freak. Many of them are highly successful and educated yet find something missing, something that brings up fear, shame, embarrassment or guilt.

Fear, for most of my clients, shows up as fear of rejection if they share their true sexual desires or fear of losing their partners. They feel guilt over not being satisfied with what they have, or in the actions they have taken to get their needs met. They feel embarrassed and ashamed for ‘being different’ from those around them. The truth is they only perceive they are different, and they interpret this difference as meaning they are wrong, selfish and/or flawed.

The Cycle of Negative Emotions

These negative emotions create a cycle where true selves are hidden and behaviors, while questionable, seem to create the relief they desire. Eventually, everyone comes to a breaking point, and for some, that leads them to my office.

I like to begin with talking to my clients about the thoughts they have and the associated negative emotions. We all try to avoid feeling our negative emotions because, honestly, they don’t feel good. We also are often scared of them – thinking they will swallow us and we will sink into depression, or that we will be swept away somehow with no hope of returning. Sometimes we are afraid of showing our negative emotions because it doesn’t feel safe to be vulnerable, or that society disapproves of us showing these emotions.

It seems in our search for happiness, we have put it on a pedestal, and have a belief that negative emotions should be avoided. It is unrealistic to think we should or will be happy all of the time, and, in reality, we spend more time avoiding regret, embarrassment and fear than we do seeking excitement and happiness.

When need to learn to manage and accept our negative emotions rather than avoid them. In fact, it is our attempts to avoid them that leave us feeling overwhelmed, unproductive, unsatisfied and locked in unhappy sexual mediocrity.
With over 25 years in counseling and therapy work with a focus in sex, sexuality, and relationships, Dr. Rhoda Lipscomb, PhD is passionate about helping couples and individuals to be successful. If you are needing specific support, please contact her for more information.

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