The other morning I was driving and I noticed something kind of interesting.
I saw a car merge very closely in front of another car, cutting it off.
Here's the interesting part: instead of the second car backing away to create that three seconds of space we all learned about in driving school, the driver actually sped up and got even closer to the car that merged in front of it.
I momentarily judged the second driver for being unsafe and forgetting the in-depth driving training we received in high school.
Then I realized, "Oh wait, I've definitely done that too. More than once."
Maybe you can relate to this as well.
Sometimes we do the opposite of what would make the most sense. We will often act in a way that feels natural, but may not actually be in our best interest.
The same is true when it comes to our feelings, specifically the urge to watch porn.
Here's what I mean.
Think about how you typically respond or react when you feel that urge to watch porn. If you're like me, for years and years whenever I would feel that intense desire, my reaction was to resist, push it away, fight back, or maybe attempt to distract myself.
This makes sense on the surface. If we have something happening in us or to us, our natural response is to resist it, to defend ourselves.
This is how I tried to find freedom from porn...for over 20 years. But it didn't work.
Because that's not how feelings work.
In order for feelings to be processed and to leave, they need to be seen. They need to be heard.
This seems absolutely counterintuitive. Why in the world would I want to put the spotlight on something I don't want?
I'll tell you: I don't know.
I don't know why feelings work this way.
One thing I have found helpful though is to think about feelings sort of like people. We just want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want our message to get across. And feelings seem to be the same way.
So how can you use this to help you on your journey towards freedom?
Well, take a minute, imagine yourself that next time you feel the urge to watch porn.
Maybe you typically feel it in the morning time, or maybe in the evening. You're alone, you have some time, you feel tired, maybe you had a stressful day. And that familiar thought enters your mind about pulling up that website on your phone or computer.
When that thought enters your mind and you start to consider it, that's when that adrenaline rush of desire floods you. You get those butterflies in your stomach. Your heart starts to beat faster. You think about how enjoyable and pleasurable that would be. You almost feel overwhelmed with desire.
What do you do with this intense urge?
Let's compare two different strategies for how to handle the urge to watch porn when it arises.
Option one: Clench your fists. Grit your teeth. You resist it, fight it, combat it. You shake your head and say, "No I'm not doing that again!"
Or maybe take a bit of a softer approach and just say, "I'm going to try to ignore it. I'm going to distract myself. I'll do something different." Maybe you go for a walk. Or if it's late at night or cold outside, maybe you try to read a book, or watch a movie or a favorite show. But then you get back from your walk, or you're watching your show or reading your book, and you keep thinking about it. That thought, and that intense urge keeps coming up and the feeling is very intense. So you just keep resisting. Fight, fight, fight. Until after a while it goes away, or you give into it.
Option two: When you notice that intense urge flooding you, you stop for a second. You pause what you're doing. Maybe you even close your eyes for a second and you take a deep breath.
You don't get angry at the fact that you're feeling the urge. If you're feeling it, it makes sense that you're feeling it.
Instead you calmly make the observation and say to yourself, "Hm, I am feeling the strong urge to watch porn."
You acknowledge that the feeling is there. You shine your spotlight of attention and awareness onto the feeling. You are simply a curious observer, noticing what's going on inside of you. This keeps you in the driver's seat.
And you give that feeling, the urge, permission to be there, similar to how you would give a good friend permission to rant about something you don't agree with.
Think through these two options. How many times have you gone down the path of option one? How often does option one work for you? If it works well and gives you a winning track record, then keep doing it. If you find a plan that works, stick with it.
But if you're like me, option one has brought very limited success.
Then I discovered the counterintuitive, but much more effective option of how to handle that intense feeling when it arises.
You may have noticed that option two is the first two steps of the P.A.T.H. Plan, the "P" and the "A". These two steps of Pause and Acknowledge help set you up for success for the third step of the Timer, and allowing the urge to be there for 10 minutes. And then of course the best part, the "H" step where you get to celebrate the win and High Five yourself.
As with many things in life, what may seem like common sense and intuitive is often not in our best interest. Many times, that which seems counterintuitive is actually the best path forward. This happens to be true with finding freedom from porn.
But hey, that's great news, because you know exactly what to do! This counterintuitive truth is baked into the P.A.T.H. Plan. This is your map forward on your journey into freedom.
Freedom is possible for you. Take the next step today!