Getting in My Own Way

Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC

Pornography and Sexual Addictions are rooted in shame and secrecy.  Overcoming involves letting go of many of the old ways of operating, and as with any kind of change, even good change, it’s difficult.  Let’s use the example of computer software and hardware.  Out physical being, body and mind are the hardware, the CPU of sorts in how we operate.  The way in which we view ourselves and the world around us, as well as the way in which we interact with our environment comprise our software or programming.  Many Pornography and Sexual Addicts have programming that reads like this:

  • I am simply a private person and difficult to get to know.
  • My emotional and relational needs are unimportant.
  • Emotions are irrational.
  • My problems are complicated and unsolvable.
  • Others cannot understand or help me.
  • I don’t have needs, other than those for money, prestige, and sexual gratification.
  • I must limit the amount of information others know about me.
  • My presentation with others should be guarded, limiting their access to me.
  • I can simply stop “acting out” and this will solve my problems. 

Programming such as this is the problem.  It pushes for the cessation of sexual “problem” behaviors while leaving the addictive structures in place.  This kind of thinking, which prizes intellectual prowess and logic, operates under the highly irrational belief that one can change without changing.  Paramount in treatment in a badly needed software upgrade.  Let’s reinterpret the programming in a more accurate and truly rational light:

I am simply a private person and difficult to get to know.— I keep others from getting close to me/I am alone.

My emotional and relational needs are unimportant.— I don’t know how to get my needs met or am afraid to.

Emotions are irrational.— I am disconnected from my own emotions.

My problems are complicated or unsolvable.— I am special/unique, not like others people.

Others cannot understand or help me.— I am alone/unreachable.

I don’t have needs, other than those for money, prestige, and sexual gratification.— I don’t have a deep understanding of who I am or what I need.  I am empty.

I must limit the amount of information others know about me.— I am hiding.

My presentation with others should be guarded, limiting their access to me.— I am terrified of intimacy.

I can simply stop “acting out” and this will solve my problems.— I am overwhelmed by reality.

One of the biggest obstacles for addicts in treatment is the man or woman they see in the mirror each day.  The addict has bonded/attached to the object of their obsession (sex), leaving them blinded or unable to feel what they really need.  Their thinking is a stumbling block to their overcoming addiction.  In fact, if we could harness the energy they place into maintaining this dysfunctional and destructive system, recovery could begin.  Thankfully, the person in the mirror can also be a tremendous ally.  Treatment, powerful, life-changing work, is found in dealing with my propensity to continually get in my own way.  These behaviors are my map to understanding and overcoming my core issues.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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