3 ways to help you overcome porn addiction

When meeting clients who are struggling with porn addiction, we go through a series of initial questions: Do you enjoy watching porn? How important is watching porn? One of the most important questions I ask of the client is: Do you want to quit watching porn? You might say, but isn’t that why someone would come into the office? The basic answer is yes; however, as each person finds out the rationalization and justification of watching porn, they begin to unravel the reasons they are seeking treatment to quit porn addiction.

When a person participates in unwanted sexual behaviors, especially if they are hiding it from their partner or loved ones, they frequently feel so much shame their brain creates potent defense mechanisms, including rationalizing and justifying. In my guidance, I teach that people often exaggerate and justify the perceived positives of engaging in the behavior, while downplaying or ignoring the real consequences. This thinking error is essentially a trademark of any addiction.

Individuals stressed with any unwanted behavior can sometimes exhibit narrow-minded or restricted conciousness. Speechless by the urge to act out their behavior, they temporarily forget the pain and suffering to self and others that will definitely result. This is because the brain’s emotional center is in control, and it’s only focus is on instant gratification, pleasure and escape with no anxiety for consequences.

All reason, values, consequences, future thinking and self-control are found in the brain’s logic center. But when the emotional center of the brain is running the show, the logic takes a back seat and simply follows the emotional center’s lead. With the emotional center in control, past pain is forgotten and the individual puts all rational and logical thought aside and narrowly focuses on accomplishing the emotional centers goal. In this “brain state,” it’s easy to blame, rationalize and justify.

To overcome these thinking errors follow these steps:

1. Become Aware – You need to admit to the fact that you sometimes think this way (rationalize and justify your porn addiction). Then you need to become aware of these kinds of thoughts when they first appear in your mind.

2. Become Accountable – You also need to acknowledge that blaming, rationalizing and justifying your porn addiction will not help you overcome your unwanted behaviors, but may actually lead you to indulge in them. Accountability means taking an accurate accounting of what happened. When you have a setback with the behavior, in order to get back on track, your brain needs to account for the entire process in honesty – no excuses or minimization of the behavior. Once you have made an accurate accounting, then you can truly assess what worked and what didn’t. But if you deny, rationalize or blame there is not an accurate accounting.

3. Move Forward – Once you have a ‘clean slate’ from the accountability exercise. Then from your accountability assessment of what worked and what didn’t you can consciously engage in those things that work more often and decrease those things that do not work. With a new slate you can put energy in moving forward and not spend your time covering, blaming or rationalizing.

These three steps are ideas and processes we do at the early stages of therapy. It is a snap shot of where you are at in the process and how ready you are to dive into the change and furthermore, healing. Accountability of your porn addiction is a fundamental aspect in getting a great start on your process.

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a specialist in the field of porn addiction and is looking to bring awareness and insight into overcoming this behavior. You can reach him by calling 952-261-5269 or email him at ryan@healingsoulsllc.com .

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