Last week, we spoke about “Quitting The Porn Rollercoaster”.
Today, I’m going to talk more about controlling arousal.
As most of you know, I meditate and highly recommend mindfulness meditation as on of the many paths to overcoming bad porn habits and addictions.
You can go a free ten day retreat with the folks at www.dhamma.org.
Accomodation is free(private room and bathroom) and you are fed twice a day for ten days.
The “catch” is that the meditation centers are maintained by volunteers. If you feel that you have benefitted from the meditation practice, you are encouraged to give a donation, or if you are financially unable to donate, you may volunteer your time as a server.
I have served a ten day course, I can say- its quite a fulfilling experience.
Mindfulness and Arousal
I won’t lie guys-I love being aroused. I enjoy the surge of energy thats brought about by a dopamine rush. There’s nothing inherently wrong with arousal, but when it leads to overindulgence in pornography- that can be a huge problem.
Arousal is not just sexual. You can be aroused when you drive by your favorite burger joint. The thought of biting into a warm juicy burger, with onions, crunchy pickles, tart mustard and sweet ketchup can create an arousal which starts your mouth to water. This is considered to be a good arousal.
When it leads to you acting out constantly, and without control- that is, thinking about burgers all the time, it can lead to compulsive behaviors and eventually, a food addiction.
Whether your compulsive behavior is in food or in porn, it can quickly lead to a lot of pain and suffering. More importantly, this arousal can become addictive.
Being mindful will teach you how to become acutely aware of the things that trigger your urges to act out.
In my research for my upcoming pornography recovery course, I discovered that certain life experiences have a huge influence on how we think, feel and behave.
I’d like to break down the four life experiences that contribute significantly to your arousal.
These life experiences usually begin in your early life- as a child, or maybe as a teenager.
- Abuse, neglect or abandonment
- Introduction to porn
- Introduction to sex
Before moving on, remember this:
Human beings are hardwired to be connected to other humans.
Abuse, neglect and abandonment
Abuse, neglect and abandonment also have an impact on how connected you feel to other people and the rest of the world.
If abandonment, abuse or some form of neglect has affected you, it may create feelings of not being able to trust others, or not feeling safe and secure in certain environments.
An example of abandonment could be your parents divorce, the death of a loved one, or adoption.
Abuse could be sexual, emotional or physical.
Neglect could come in the form of someone who was supposed to be responsible for you not caring if you were clothed, clean, fed or kept accountable to your duties.
The truth is that for most heavy porn users, abuse, neglect or abandonment is probably somewhere in your history.
Your porn use and other related sexually compulsive behaviors are sometimes an effort to put a healing balm on the pain , but it only makes the pain worse.
Introduction to porn and sex
Many of my coaching clients share with me that they were introduced to porn and sex prior to middle school. In fact, these days- I see kids getting introduced to porn and sex even earlier.
At that age, your brain is still developing and immature. On a functional level, it has no idea what to do with the powerful feelings that are generated from arousal. All you brain knows is that it feels novel, exciting and very good. It leads to wanting more and more.
By the time you are a middle schooler, you’ve become a porn expert. You an expert at browsing, hiding it and finding the genres you enjoy. Also, at this time, arousal at an all time high and very difficult to give up.
The symptom of the difficulty to give up can be found in the hours of secret time spent online. Isolation sets in, with limited contact with family, friends and a drop in performance at school. Its important to note at this point that teenage arousal and addictive habits usually carry over to adulthood.
Isolation can continue into your college years and even into middle age.
So what happens when you get aroused?
I’m going to break down the exact process that leads to your arousal
Images, thoughts and wrong beliefs:
Overly focusing on thoughts and images which leads to urges
Developing habits by giving in to the urges to act out and by obsessing on beliefs, thoughts and images
Arousal behaviors take over. Acting out begins
Arousal is uncontrolled- acting out now becomes an addiction.
Everyone who reads this blog is in a different stage. Some of us may already be at the addiction stage, others may only be developing the habits.
I sometimes get emails from guys saying “Chris, I don’t have an addiction to porn, why are you always talking about addictions?”
First off- its normal to have sexual thoughts and images in your mind. What you do with the images when they are in your mind is what truly matters.
This is the official QPGG guide to figuring out if you are addicted to porn or not:
- Compulsivity , which is described as the loss of the ability to choose freely whether to stop or continue.
- Continuing to watch porn despite adverse consequences, such as loss of money, health, compromised relationships and poor performance on the job.
- Obsession- you place more emphasis on porn than other areas of your life.
Regardless of which step you find yourself in, controlling arousal is possible.
The method used is mindfulness.
Earlier on, I mentioned mindfulness meditation. Just to be clear on this: you don’t have to meditate to be mindful.
Mindfulness simple means being very focused and aware of what can be improved in your life.
Mindfulness involves you choosing to stay focused when you recognize that your mind is wandering and gently, but firmly bring it back to the object of your focus. The more you practice, the longer you are able to stay focused on your objective.
To get you started, here are fours ways to implement mindfulness when you get aroused:
- Awareness:Becoming aware that your mind has wandered over to something which you have chosen to have better control of is important. For example, sensing that something you are reading is slowly getting you turned on. Awareness would work like this: “I’m feeling really aroused by what I’m reading.” This takes some practice, but is a crucial first step in learning mindfulness. If the fact that you are turned on is not purposefully identified, it can quickly escalate to masturbation or watching porn.
Once you have become aware of the behavior (in this case, sexual arousal) that you have chosen to have better control over, the next step is to identify it. You ALWAYS identify it as “something I have chosen to have control over.”
So it works like: “ Now that I am aware I am getting turned on by reading, I choose to identify it in my mind so that I can have control over it.”
The next step in applying mindfulness is making a choice to stop and assess what would happen if you don’t stop the “turned on” thought. An example would be asking yourself:
“ What are my choices? What would be the consequences if I choose to masturbate or watch porn now? I could stop reading, continue reading and try to ignore the feeling, or bring it up with my coach later on, and so on.”
The point is pausing long enough to make a choice and decision to gain control before acting out.
- Act Opposite:
This is an important step because taking control of you behavior by choosing not to do things like giving in to watching porn, or masturbating is the ONLY way to regain control of your life.
Making the choice to “look before you leap” is literally a lifesaving skill.
The latest research in neuroscience demonstrates that mindfulness is a mental state that allows us from moment to moment, to choose and determined how our minds will operate. The simple act of mindfulness actually produces physical changes in the brain.
For instance, children who abuse pornography end up suffering from severely stunted emotional and psychological growth.( Debra K. Braun-Courville and Mary Rojas, “Exposure to sexually explicit web sites and adolescent sexual attitudes and behaviors,” Journal of Adolescent Health 45 (2009): 156-162.
Your biggest roadblock:
I’ll be blunt will all of you. There are a lot of bullshitters that visit QPGG. There are almost 8,000 subscribers to QuitPornGetGirls.com. Some of you are here because you want to improve their skills with women and get laid. Others struggle with porn and other sexual compulsive behaviors. Others read one cool article and hit subscribe.
One thing I feel stops most people from engaging with the site more is denial.
Denial is refusing to admit that you have a problem. One way is denial is expressed is blaming others for the trouble you find yourself in. For example, telling yourself that it was your conservative upbringing that lead to you watching pornography. Add out of control sexually compulsive behaviors to denial and you have a massive cover-up in order to not feel responsible for the shit you get yourself into.
Living in denial will keep you stuck and prevent you from moving forward towards recovery. I know that sometimes that urge to act out sexually is so strong that it might seem impossible to control. In an effort to cope with this dilemma, it is tempting to protect your porn induced behaviors because you have come to believe you can’t live without them.
Until you squarely face this belief, it will be very difficult for you to get a handle on your denial.
Trust me, staying in denial, not getting honest and accountable will only guarantee that you stay in the same behavior patterns that keep you living a life of pain.
Do what you always do, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.
So what are the bullshit excuses you use to stay stuck on porn?
- Watching porn hasn’t hurt anyone but me.
- I like the excitement of keeping it a secret
- If I tell someone it will ruin my life
- People wont trust me anymore if they find out
- It isn’t that bad and I can stop anytime I want. I just haven’t decided to quit yet
What are some of the excuses you have used which keep you in denial and hold back your recovery?
I’ve attached a detailed exercise that will take you to the roots of your denial. This exercise will go a long way in helping you control your arousal.
[sociallocker id=”1378″]Click here to download the PDF [/sociallocker]
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