Finding the Alternative: Addressing the Emotions
When you are struggling with an addiction to pornography or any addiction it is often because you are afraid to look at the underlying emotion behind your pain.
Understanding and coping with feelings reduces your chance of relapse. When you follow these steps you can cope with feelings and emotional states you are not comfortable dealing with.
The following are 3 coping strategies to cope with feelings underlying pornography addiction.
Step 1 – Recognize and label your feelings.
First don’t deny your feelings because this can cause more difficulty in the long run. If you’re tired admit to being tired. Feeling overwhelmed, share this feeling with someone. You will start to find “patterns” in regards to your feelings. Some questions to think about: Do you tend to experience certain feelings more frequently than others? Does your response to a situation or event trigger a feeling? For example when you are anxious do you go right to pornography as your security?
Step 2 - Beware of how your feelings show up in the world.
Pay attention to how your feelings show up in your body and externally in the world around you. The physical symptoms, thoughts and your behavior are all experienced not only within you, but also witnessed from other people too. That’s traditionally what gets loved ones concerned.
The ways in which feelings show up is endless; from pacing back and forth when stressed, to hiding a cell phone when paranoid. Be mindful of all the external reactions you might display. A great exercise is to ask someone you trust what happens when you look stressed or emotional?
Step 3 – Start to use alternative coping skills.
An alternative coping skill is something out of your scope of practice, a way to practice relaxing when you are being flooded by feelings and emotions. I encourage my clients to start a list of all the emotions that are hard to deal with. I follow this up with creating a list of the traditional ways they deal with these feelings. After we have exhausted the coping skills. We create a brand new one. For example, if in the past you went to the park to go on a walk when you were stressed but it only led you to look at pornography on your phone. Then I would say that is not the best coping skill. Next time you are stressed, try your hand in the kitchen… Go take a shower, simply do something that you are not used to doing. An alternative to what you are comfortable doing will give you a glimpse at hope and opportunity at breaking the habits.
In conclusion all strategies will not work all the time. The key is having several strategies to rely on so that you don’t use the same strategy all the time.
Dr. Ryan Westrum is a sex therapist that specializes in pornography addiction. Please contact him at 952-261-5269 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a complementary consultation.