How to Overcome Porn Addiction and Get Your Life Back
 

How to Overcome Porn Addiction and Get Your Life Back

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Break the cycle of porn addiction in 5 easy steps

How to Overcome Porn Addiction and Get Your Life Back

"How to Overcome Porn Addiction and Get Your Life Back" courtesy of mandyxclear

He sat there in his suit and wept. "I've stopped going out. I'm scared I'll get discovered doing it at work. I don't even want to see my girlfriend! It's ruining my life!"

Jeremy wasn't talking about alcohol or crack cocaine or marijuana. He was talking about the porn addiction that had been dictating his work and social life, even the amount he was sleeping. "Honestly, it's as if I am being held ransom by the need to look at the stuff!"

Porn addiction is as real as any other chronic dependency. Sure, you're not injecting or ingesting anything into your body. But chronic porn viewing does have a physical effect (exhaustion of dopamine release in the brain). And the time spent 'ingesting' porn is mind-numbing and leaves you exhausted. After hours of viewing porn on his computer, Jeremy couldn't 'switch off' his mind enough to sleep.

Internet porn addiction, like online gambling, is easier to fall into, because what once involved going out and meeting others face-to-face can now be done easily and covertly at the click of a button. This availability makes it all the more potentially devastating. So why does porn addiction happen?

Am I really addicted to pornography?

Being addicted to porn isn't, strangely, just about sex. Viewing porn is hypnotic in that it narrows the focus of attention and makes us lose track of time. So people use it for escapism but, in the end, people always want to escape the very thing they were using...to escape. Jeremy said as much: "If I was having a rough time at work or been rowing with the girlfriend, I'd use porn to just forget about everything." Eventually, of course, the cure becomes the curse.

How do you tell if you're actually addicted to porn? Well, if you feel it controls you and you regularly view porn for hours and often feel you can't stop; if it affects work, social life, sleep, and (in Jeremy's case) even made him miss meals, then it needs to be dealt with.

"The problem," Jeremy told me with a shaking voice, "is that my job needs lots of very detailed concentration."

Porn blunts the senses and leaves you feeling unable to focus or concentrate on anything else. It can also leave you feeling disgusted with yourself.

Excessive porn viewing steals time away from actual real-life and potentially productive projects. The more porn you view, the more you want to view and the more extreme it needs to be to give you the same 'buzz'.

How porn addiction lies to you

Like any addictive behaviour, porn ultimately never delivers what it seems to promise. First there's the feeling of building expectation before you start viewing. At first there is excitement but then, bit by bit, you start to feel hollow as the 'pornographic gorge' gathers pace.

And, as with all binges, you start to feel overloaded, bloated with images. When you do finally stop, you feel worse than you did to start with as you experience the post-binge comedown.

But, as Jeremy found, there is a way back. Here are five key steps to overcoming porn addiction.

1) Feel the consequences before they happen

Ever notice how, in the moments before you view porn, you are stuck in the moment? How you become blinkered to how you're going to feel after viewing porn? How the excitement clouds out the reality of the post-viewing exhaustion, disappointment, shame, or disgust?

Next time you feel tempted, for whatever reason, walk away from the computer or DVD or magazine and sit in another room – just for twenty seconds. Close your eyes and really focus on the memory of the reality of how you feel after a porn viewing session.

Or listen to the free audio session at the bottom of the page for help doing this.

Focus in on the tiredness, the self-disgust and disappointment, the feeling of foggy-headedness. Get into the habit of doing this. It's like unmasking a seemingly attractive stranger and discovering the ugly reality. At this point, you may feel conflicted. It's as if one part of your brain is trying to trick the rest of you.

So:

2) Challenge the porn baloney

Step two is to challenge the addictive part of your brain that tells you stuff like:

  • "It's not so bad; plenty of people do it!"

Challenge: You could tell yourself: "Yeah and plenty of people self-harm!" Or: "I don't want to be like all those other people out there doing it!"

  • "It's okay, you only need do it for a few minutes; just have a look!"

Challenge that with something like: "Yeah sure, look how much time I waste usually. I know that you won't let me get away lightly! It's all or nothing!"

  • "Come on, you've had a difficult day. You deserve it!"

Challenge perhaps with: "Yeah and this would make it ten times worse! I need something that is really going to make me feel better about myself."

  • "Who's going to know? It doesn't matter!"

Challenge with something like: "Well, don't I matter? Because I'm going to know and anyway, others could find out!"

So, whenever you catch yourself trying to justify looking at porn, learn to challenge it. You can do this by first catching what the attempted 'phony sales techniques' or 'baloney' of your mind are that try to get you to view. Write these down, then write really good objections to them.

3) Gain insight into how porn addiction works

Think about when the danger times are. What's different about these times? Are you more likely to be procrastinating from a work project or feeling bored, lonely, unappreciated, or tired? Using porn because you are tired and need to 'rest the brain' has the effect of making you much more tired.

Make a plan for when you feel like this that doesn't involve flinging portions of your life away on porn. If you feel tired, close your eyes for twenty minutes and relax, have a bath, or even go for a walk (exercise can often make us feel more energized). Get to know yourself and when you are more likely to be taken in by porn's promptings. Plan ahead by telling yourself: "Okay, tonight is the end of a long week and I'll be tired and maybe a bit stressed. I know it's a porn danger time, so I'm going to the gym after work. Then I'll arrange to meet friends." The more you walk away from porn, the easier it becomes to walk away.

Also think about the times when you haven't used porn, even when you had the opportunity. What was different about those times? Really think about that. Because therein lies the solution.

4) Use your imagination to help yourself

It's often been said that the largest sexual organ is the brain. If you feel genuinely sexy, then rather than dulling your imagination by passively watching porn, learn to fantasize. You'll spend much less time doing this and can 'direct your own porn' within your mind. You'll find this ultimately more satisfying, but strangely less compulsive than viewing porn. Why is this?

Addiction relies on 'unpredictable rewards'. That means that we feel compelled to keep doing something if its rewards are unreliable; so slot machines, even email, can be addictive because they don't always give us something worthwhile. (1) If slot machines always paid out, they would be, strangely, un-addictive! So it is with porn; some images do it for you and some don't. Your own fantasy can be consistently rewarding and therefore less addictive, saving you time and energy.

5) Go do something more interesting instead!

Ideally, what would you rather be doing with time you've wasted on porn? Furthering your career? Perfecting playing a musical instrument? Socializing? Even watching TV can feel more productive. Time isn't infinite, so rather than spending time worrying about porn viewing or feeling guilty, start focusing on what you really want to do with your time. Suppose someone spent 40 hours viewing repetitive porn (and porn is repetitive). How good would they become if they used those 40 hours to cook or read or write? How fit would you be if you ran for those hours or took dance classes? How informed would you be if you viewed the History Channel for that time? What we put into our heads is just as important as the diet we give our bodies.

Jeremy hasn't viewed porn for three months. He tells me he has amazing energy, has got his 'mind back', and feels like he can respect himself again.

Article written by Mark Tyrrell.

How can I help you personally?

Mark Tyrrell

If you'd like some extra help around How to Overcome Porn Addiction and Get Your Life Back, my company provides a huge library of hypnosis sessions through Hypnosis Downloads.com. Hypnosis is great for this sort of thing because it's a natural and powerful way of positively changing the way you think and feel. Learn more

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1. 'Operant conditioning' is a psychological term for the mechanisms by which behaviour is shaped by its consequences. How compelled we feel to do something can depend on the rewards and punishments of doing it. An intriguing finding of research on training animals through reward is that always giving rewards isn't the best way to motivate.

The most effective training regime is one where you give the animal a reward only sometimes, and then only at random intervals. Animals trained like this, with what's called a 'variable interval reinforcement schedule', work harder and longer for their rewards. This has some logic to it. Although we might know that we've stopped rewarding the animal, it has got used to performing the behaviour and not getting the reward. Because 'next time' might always be the occasion that produces the reward, there's never definite evidence that rewards have stopped altogether.

Not all porn is satisfying, but the next movie or picture might be, so the 'rewards' are inconsistent and therefore more compelling. See Lauren Slater's great book Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century (2004) for a good explanation of the research into unpredictable reward and compulsiveness.

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