In this two part blog series I’m going to teach you about the addiction (or habit) cycle and how you can use it to disrupt your porn use (and any compulsive behavior actually) in a big way. You are then going to learn a very simple and powerful change inducing technique that is almost laughable at how easy it is . . . and powerful. This blog article alone will help you make positive choices – choices that will enhance your life instead of ruining it with porn, loneliness, isolation and insecurity.
The first thing I’m going to teach you today is the addiction cycle. This is critical because we are going to use your knowledge of the addiction cycle to be conscious of what was previously perceived as unconscious. Learning the addiction cycle will help you become quickly aware of what’s going on inside your mind and body when you are triggered to watch porn – to escape, to run away, to disconnect. You are literally going to learn to watch yourself as you spiral down the porn rabbit-hole – or not. . . As you will learn, it’s your choice. It always has been and it always will be. Here we are going to learn to embrace this power of choice by using the addiction cycle to monitor our behavior and choices.
Here’s a quick summary of the addiction cycle to get you started. Essentially, the addiction cycle has three critical phases. The three phases that I want you to memorize, burn into your eyes, memorialize, use to become wise, internalize and never deny, is:
This is so important, I want you to read them again: repeat after me . . . Trigger; Thought; Action.
Let’s break them down one by one: First up is the Trigger – POW! this is when the body experiences an immediate, almost instantaneous, negative energy shift; often in response to something sexually stimulating or something bad happening.
Second, immediately following the Trigger, “fast, fast, fast”, is the Thought. The Thoughts come in two forms – sexually objectifying thoughts, and self deprecating ones. You know self deprecating Thoughts right? “I’m not good enough,” . . . “I’m a failure,” . . . “this article sucks and so do I,” . . . “I’m a loser” and on and on and on. Which thoughts are you hearing now? Just pay attention to the thoughts, without judging them and if you are serious about this you can write down what you’re thinking (writing things down is critical in your journey to sexual sanity).
Third and finally, after the Thought comes Action – this is where you take Action to advance your addiction like fire up the computer or start planning your porn bender – click, click, click. We need to stop harmful Actions and start taking positive one’s. How you ask? You do this by taking actions that slow down each phase of the addiction cycle, thereby creating space between each phase – space to take positive action and make positive choices.
Let me explain. In early recovery, you pass through the addiction cycle in lightening speed – it feels like nanoseconds. It’s one big blur. You need to slow this process down and create space between each phase to gain time and presence of mind to take the right action. We need space. Here’s a quote I love from Holocaust Survivor Viktor Frankl that illustrates my point perfectly –
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Watch this video to learn more about the habit cycle.
Exercise: So if you want space, space to make great choices, then accept my challenge. I challenge you to track and write down as many of your Triggers, Thoughts, and Actions that you experience for 7 days. Pay extra careful attention to the Thoughts – focus on these and try to be compulsive about writing them down. You dig? I want you to become acutely aware of what’s going on inside your body and mind so you can create space to choose. Report your finding here in the comment section.
In the next post I’m going to teach you how to combine a simple and powerful technique with the porn addiction cycle that can change your life if you let it. Till then, start tracking . . .