Read My Mind

If You Could Do It Alone, You Already Would Have

by Roger Nix on Jan 26th, 2015.     0 comments

At our first coaching session, I asked Jack (not his real name) what he wanted to work on. He said his issue was that he rarely desired to be sexual with his wife. As we dug down toward the roots of this issue it turned out he had a porn habit.

Jack was very confused. He understood that at times his porn habit was a huge negative in his life, yet knowing this truth rarely prevented him from acting out.

After a few sessions of trying to get a handle on the porn addiction (which seemed primary to creating a healthy sexual relationship with his wife) it became clear that he was stuck. He just couldn’t stay away from the porn. So I asked him again, “Why are you here?”

Jack said, “I want to stop using porn, and I want to be sexual with my wife again so she will stop questioning my love for her.”

I thought for a moment and quietly asked, “Ok, so why do you want those things?”

Well, because I think that I will be happier. It makes perfect sense to quit. We are married, she loves me, and if we had a good sex life the rest of my life would be less stressful. I just need to get rid of the porn so I can focus on being a good husband to her.”

When I heard his words, “I think,” and “it makes sense,” I saw his problem more clearly. 

I asked, “How strong would your desire be to stop using porn if your wife wasn’t a factor? Say from a scale of 1, I’d have very little energy, to 10, this is what I want so badly I will do anything for it.”

Jack started thinking, and then quickly I added, “Jack, don’t think about your answer. Just blurt out a number.”
He froze for a second or two. He was finding this difficult. But after a bit he said, “Shit, I guess a 2 or 3!”

“And now, Jack, what is the strength of your desire to use porn when temptation beckons? What does that feel like on the 1 to 10 scale?”

Quickly he said, “It’s a 9 or 10 when I am really in the grips of my desire.”

Now we knew why he was stuck. The truth was that while rationally he knew that his porn habit was hurting his life, and he had a list of reasons to quit, emotionally he wanted porn more than he wanted a sexual relationship with his wife.

We humans think we are rational beings who make rational decisions. The truth is we tend to use our intellect (the rational mind) to justify, act out, and/or evangelize our emotional wants, not the other way around.

Knowledge and information, no matter how obviously true or compelling, can be overcome by a strong habit that pays immediate rewards. When triggered by a strong chemical impulse to act out, we will quickly abandon our “good intentions” and find ways to justify our behavior.

These rationalizations give us permission to do what we strongly desire, in spite of all we rationally “know” about the consequences.

Hormones designed to push us to repeat pleasurable experiences will overwhelm the much weaker executive function of our brain.

This is why initially acting out feels like such a relief. The war between a “good intention” and desire is over, at least for a while. We get relief from the struggle and an immediate chemical reward from our brain. This pattern creates a familiar neurological path that provides an easy and reliable reward.

Jack’s problem wasn't one of knowledge, but of desire and emotional motivation. His emotional reward system hadn’t internalized the payoff of being free of his porn habit.

His reasons for quitting porn took a lot of energy and effort to remember. Rather than deciding to quit porn with his whole being, he just argued with himself over the issue.  So the war between rationality and desire drained him. However, since it took no energy to fall into the old pattern of porn use, it was only a matter of time before his rational brain lost the battle.

Ironically, his rational mind seemed in control at work. He could go to work when he didn’t “feel” like it. He could resist anger impulses in meetings. He could delay immediate gratification for a long-term reward.

His emotional desire to succeed at work was very high, and he used his rational mind to support it. He craved the rewards his work gave him. Every time he was able to overcome emotional obstacles at work, he felt good, and his pleasure center rewarded him.

Outside of work the dynamic was flipped. Jack had internalized his values at work but not in his personal life.
Over many years he had learned at a very deep level that when he was bored, distressed, anxious, or sad, porn would ease his discomfort. Jack could have used alcohol, TV, pot, or work – anything that consistently soothed his emotional discomfort – which at times he did, but he just happened to prefer porn.

When we use any activity, substance, or strategy and receive a chemical reward, it eventually becomes a habit.

Jack had little success in overcoming emotional impulses in his non-work life. What he needed was to connect intellectual reasoning with his emotional world. In other words, he had to want emotionally to stop porn more than he wanted to use porn.

When Jack was free of the pleasurable neuro-chemicals that porn stimulated in his brain, he became aware that he really did desire to quit porn and be with his wife. So His work was to get help to stay free of his porn habit so he could face and feel his emotions. This included feeling the negative emotional impact of his habit.

I added Jack to a support group that worked on his issue. He started to be honest and transparent there and to pay attention to his emotional world. This in turn enabled him to connect the dots of his behavior to the consequences – to fully feel the long-term negative impact of porn use. He soon was very motivated to take the action necessary to stay sober.

His new emotional connection was a large part of his eventual success in eliminating a deeply engrained habit.  He also needed information, new tools, patience, and support, but without connecting rational and emotional motivations, change “techniques” usually don’t last long enough to create new positive habits.

It is not easy to bridge the gap between an old habit and a new way of life without support. Most of us need help to change.

Sons of Ulysses provides that help for porn addiction.

“Sons” helps you shift emotional motivation by helping you feel the consequences of your behavior and reveal what you truly want.

Sons present the essential keys for overcoming your compulsive behavior with pornography.

If you have struggled with breaking an unhealthy relationship with porn, check out Sons of Ulysses.

If you could do it alone, you already would have.

January 2015 Sons Of Ulysses Website Banner
Topics: Addiction Personal Growth Personal Integration Pornography Sex



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