I think I’m addicted to having problems. I had an insight this week that is a game changer.
I already had a sense that I was habituated to having problems. You know, that part of your brain that goes on autopilot and resists change initially?
Like how in my daughter’s room there is an upper bunk that folds up against the wall. We started with it up. Then my other daughter moved into the room. The bunk was then down all the time.
I must have bumped my head 7 times, and really hard, over a few weeks until it finally sunk in that the upper bunk was there to stay.
This part of our brain sometimes interferes by making change hard, but it’s trying to help. If you experience resistance trying to change it means something has gone right. I already knew about this.
New Realization: the Fantasy-Solution
But this week I realized that maybe I was not only addicted to pornography, but addicted to having my “problem” with pornography. I think I wanted the problem itself. What the?!
And I realized why.
This didn’t occur to me because there were so many times that I wished I never had this problem.
But what I’ve noticed is that I really like to imagine how great everything will be once I “fix” my problem. I think I get a dopamine hit from this fantasy. And I think I’ve practiced this thinking and made it a habit.
I have clients who want to fix this, I give them the tools to do it, and they don’t use them. I get why they want to maintain access to the porn. But I think they want to keep their problem on some other subconscious level. So they can hang on to their fantasy-solution.
Sometimes, guys remove porn from their life for a time. And they realize it didn’t solve all their problems. So they go back to it. This happened to me. I held on to this idea for so long that when the time finally came to “fix” this, I was devastated that my fantasy didn’t happen as expected. So I had a hard time not going back to my “porn problem.”
Why Did I Want to Have a “Problem?”
Because I didn’t really realize that the full human experience is meant to have negative emotions. I was okay with negative emotion as long is it was hardly any and it would happen at a convenient time for me and go away really fast.
Intellectually, I understood that negative emotions are meant to be part of life. But in practice, I felt entitled to feel good most of the time and I would freak out a little (or a lot) if things got negative.
50% Positive/50% Negative
If you think about it, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ, we believe in “opposition in all things.” Does it make sense to believe that about our emotions too?
What if the full human experience, when all is said and done, adds up to a ratio of 50% positive and 50% negative? When I first heard this idea I thought it was oversimplified and that it shouldn’t have to be THAT much negative.
But I’ll tell you, the more I plan on 50/50 in my life, the better I handle my emotions. And the easier it has been to stop looking at pornography. Because I’m treating the underlying cause instead of just the symptom.
50% of the time things will work out. 50% of the time they’ll fall apart.
Half lonely. Half Connected.
Half self-acceptance. Half shame.
Half worthy. Half unworthy.
Note: As you work on this, you can start getting more intentional about which negative emotions you regularly have. But first you need to accept that negative emotions are part of the experience. And you need to practice being willing to feel them. Notice them. Identify them. Process them.
How Does 50/50 Help Me?
What if you expected it to be 50/50 now and 50/50 when you have gone 10+ years without looking at porn and masturbating?
All that willpower you spend on resisting half your life, you can spend in more useful ways.
This would take away the incentive for having a “problem” with an attached fantasy-solution. Because there IS no “problem” with the full human experience. It doesn’t need to be fixed.
The truth is, even when I’ve gone 30 years without porn, it will still be 50/50.
That fantasy of everything becoming perfect once I fix this? I’m going to choose a different option: my “right now!” Every second I spend fantasizing about how much better it will be with a fantasy-solution is a second that I am not engaged in my “right now.” What does that cost me?
If I use the power of visualizing what I want to accomplish in the future, I am going to make sure that I plan on 50/50 now, then, and all the way through.
Do I want to be a human right here and right now? If I do, 50/50 is part of the deal.
If you believe you are meant to be happy all the time, you will always look for an escape route when the negative emotions come, which they always will.
I Would Rather Feel Like Crap Than Look at Porn
I choose 50/50 over porn. Yes, this means that I would rather feel lonely, shame, unworthy, rejected, depressed, and anxious than look at porn. I can breathe right through them.
If you tell yourself that you would rather look at porn than feel these negative feelings, you will look at porn when these feelings arise. You get to decide.
Sometimes “now” is terrible and hard. What if that’s okay? What if it doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong? What if it means something has gone right?
If you are not willing to be in your “now,” you will spend time on never-ending problems you can never solve.
Let it Be Hard. Let it Be a Process.
This all happens at a subconscious level without you even being aware of it. If you practice awareness of these things, THAT is you choosing to be a human in this moment. THAT is you getting engaged.
It is a process and that’s okay. Like me learning to stop bumping my head on the upper bunk, through trial and error, we will learn.
Let it be hard. Let mistakes be part of the process. Gain awareness and gain power to change. Don’t change because of the fantasy you hope will come true. Change because it’s what you want.
What if being fully engaged in the 50/50 is actually better than any fantasy we’ve dreamed up in our minds?
Learn how to find success with the full human experience and check out my 12 Week How to Stop Looking at Porn Program by scheduling a free mini-session with me. What are you waiting for? Click here.
For a free jumpstart on learning the skill of not looking at porn check out my guide: “How to Stop Looking at Porn.”