By Andrea Rossouw-Starsi
Often when I speak to people who are facing the decision to give up any type of addiction, I notice that the one thing that pulls people into self-perpetuating cycles towards giving up and falling back into the same addiction they have been trying to get rid of, is self judgment. For example a person will make a decision one day to stop an addiction, using the reasons why and motivation and focus to get them through the first day, the second and so forth. Usually a person will use all kinds of ‘self-talk motivations’, to convince themselves of why they should quit, even though the underlying addiction is still ‘gnawing’ at them, fuelling their already unstable resolve, persistently picking at their reasons until by week 1, or month 1 – they give in and have that chocolate, or alcoholic drink or watch porn (whatever it is that your addiction maybe consist of).
Lets walk an example here of somebody addicted to Porn and/or masturbation. Initially the reason for stopping will usually be that one is either uncomfortable with watching porn or excessive masturbation, because you realise inside yourself that this control that this habit has over you is not only highly uncomfortable but interferes with your life. For some it is because they have realized that watching Porn has skewed their view of sexuality and the opposite sex, and now when one wants to engage in any form of sexuality, be it masturbation alone, or a sexual experience with another – you will find your body going into a sort of lock down, where you find yourself unable to move yourself comfortably in your body, and you judge the physical body because it does not match the pictures in pornography/fantasies. Some people start to question the existence of pornography and through research on the internet, are faced with the true reality of how pornography works and the real story behind the porn stars. Now they make an informed decision to stop utilizing pornography, however the mind-physical relationship to energy and addiction is still existent within the person and thus removing the ‘how’ does not necessarily stop this ‘system’. The next person might realize that they are compromising their relationships with others. Usually in this case a partner has caught on or caught them in the act and has made it very clear that they will not accept the existence of pornography as it goes against how the partner views their agreement. So here the user is faced with either an ultimatum, or they simply see that they are compromising the intimacy between themselves and their partner and it is having consequences, and they do not want to live like that..
So these are but a few examples of why some people decide to stop porn use or the addiction to masturbation. They will set an initial resolve – a starting point within themselves as to why they are stopping. Now as mentioned above – at all times when working through an addiction you are dealing not only with how serious you really are to stopping/changing, but you are also now working with your entire personality-mind make up and how this addiction through your mind – has infused itself into your physical body. Therefore the addiction itself is hardwired into the physical. Therefore on the one hand you have your ‘decision’ which might or might not be 100% sturdy, and on the other hand you have your thoughts, feelings and emotions that are now hardwired to draw you back to this addiction. Understandably therefore many people fall back into addiction because they are not aware of all of ones impulses, your underlying beliefs, thoughts, ideas, fears and the most simplistic – the addiction to the experience itself which is most overwhelming and is usually the number one reason why a person keeps going back to the same experience.
Now lets say you made a decision to stop, but you are not 100% aware of what will come up inside of you as you walk this journey. As time goes by – you start craving pornography or masturbation again. Thoughts flood your mind, you react emotionally, pictures pop up out of nowhere, your body reacts to these thoughts and images and eventually the mind finds your weakness, your ‘achilles heel’ so to speak and will in one moment take you over and you feel yourself almost pulling back into your body as you simply allow yourself to ‘give in’. What happens next in the days to follow is the person becomes racked with guilt and self-judgment, often resulting in exacerbation of ‘internal-experiences’ which take one down a road towards the same addiction. So now this leads to a renewal of the same cycle between good and bad experiences – which take one from the feel good energy of watching porn or masturbating to the yukky negative type emotional experiences around the judgment and self blame. It is here that ones starts realizing how watching Porn often acts as a crux for people who are avoiding specific experiences within themselves.
Therefore the key here is to realize on your journey of stopping – there is you, there is your decision and there is the outcome. All 3 of these elements have to be present and absolute. If you allow ‘backdoors’ the ones that whisper ‘nah I don’t really want to stop, I just want him/her to think I am trying’ to exist then you will likely keep falling because you have designed it so. We will discuss ‘back doors’ more in later blogs.
So you are fully present, there, willing and able to do what it takes, you have your starting point – the reason why you are stopping – which is absolute and now you know that along the way you will learn about yourself and apply yourself within the necessary tools to change and stop your addiction – therefore there is an outcome. And what do you know: there are other people out there who at any particular moment in time are overcoming way worse addictions, therefore I always say ‘if they can do it any person can do it’. I have overcome some addictive patterns myself, some pertaining to sexuality, some around relationships etc and therefore I know that the hardest times I had in stopping some of these addictive behaviors – I know that any person whom I walk with can then overcome their addiction – because at the time when I was working with particular addictions I would say to myself ‘I just cannot do this’ – and yet I did. I felt like the weakest person in the world, with the worst self-talk imaginable – and yet I turned that leaf and made the changes. It took me a few tried until my resolve was 100% (more on personal resolve in later blogs).
Therefore, we take from this that if you slip up, you learn from it and continue. Self Judgment is therefore irrelevant actually – but if one finds yourself judging something – then transform that judgment into again a tool – just for a moment – where you stop and catch yourself and go ‘hey wait a minute no judgments’ – so then you drop the judgment – and transform it into ‘ok lets look at what we have done and see how to change it for next time’…