Welcome to the second installment of my 8-part series titled “8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography”! Before I get to today’s Step I’d like to explain the Addiction Cycle, something which usually comes into play when a person uses pornography. A lot of people who are trying to give up pornography focus all their energy on not using pornography itself. The problem with that approach is that the battle is lost long before you ever jump on the Internet to hit your favorite adult sites. That fight started much earlier than most people realize. Check out the graph below:
Most people who struggle with pornography don’t realize that the TV shows they watch and the magazines they look at while standing in line at the grocery store are what really get them in trouble. Brains that have been conditioned with pornography are trained to respond to stimulus like Pavlov’s dogs. For example: Stimulus: Sexual magazine cover; Response: Fantasize about the person on the magazine cover, begin ritual behavior (flip through the magazine, go home and sit down at the computer, surf the ‘net for “harmless” pics, etc.), and then act out. The key is to stop the cycle before it gets going, before you begin to fantasize. Once you begin fantasizing it is extremely difficult to stop the addiction cycle; most people who enter the “Fantasy” portion of the cycle will complete the entire cycle.
Here’s how the book “Breaking Free” by Russell Willingham describes the Addiction Cycle:
That brings us to Step 2: Bounce Your Eyes.
It’s actually pretty simple…you have to stay out of the Addiction Cycle to stay away from pornography, and often it’s your eyes that begin the Fantasy segment of the cycle; thus, you have to control your eyes. “Bouncing” your eyes is the method many people use to accomplish this. By “bouncing” your eyes I mean that as soon as you catch yourself looking at a “triggering” person or image, “bounce” your eyes away to something else. It is very common to “bounce” your eyes away from someone, only to go right back to looking at the person you just “bounced” away from. That’s OK. Just bounce your eyes away again…and again…and again. As many times as it takes. By “bouncing” your eyes you are re-wiring your brain, instead of staring and fantasizing. It is hard work to rewire your brain so don’t get discouraged if “bouncing” is difficult at first; just keep doing it! I know that when I first started, I would sometimes have to say the word “bounce” out loud if I was in a highly triggering place, like the gym.
Today’s challenge: Every time you catch yourself looking at a sexually triggering image or person for the next 24 hours, “bounce” your eyes away immediately, as many times as it takes. Try it and see how you feel by the end of the day tomorrow!