Things I've Learned about Masturbation, Porn & Sex Addiction

I thought I'd print what I've learned in my many years of studying my own masturbation/porn/sex addiction. I'm no expert, but I've spent a lot of time studying how I feel to understand why it is that I do this. This is long. Hope that's okay. No, I'm not cured, but I get a little closer every time I fail.

Certainly logic and science are not the whole answer, but they can help your understand yourself so you can help yourself by letting God help you. Spirituality and science can work together.

MY BACKGROUND
Just so you know where I'm coming from - I'm spiritual, but I wouldn't say I'm necessarily religious. It's hard to tell what's God and what's man these days in many religions. I know with all my heart that God loves me. I would have put a bullet in my head long ago if I didn't feel that. But connecting with Him in a deep, meaningful level has eluded me for some time. So I've relied on asking him for help, knowing that is all that's needed, and then studying myself to understand my motivations.

I tend to believe in the concept of co-creation. We and God each have some control, although God makes the laws that rule the world, not us. I also don't tend to blame everything on Satan. I believe that such a force exists, but trying to figure out what is him and what is me is very difficult at times. Also, I can tend to blame things on him and not take responsibility for my choices. I even sometimes end up disemboweling some part of me that I liked that was essential good, but which was just being acted out in a negative way. He wins in both cases. I tend to take a more logical view so I can understand how to get out of the rut. God provided our hearts as a guide. Listen to the small still voice long enough and you will know. When asked how we would know the false from the true prophet, Jesus said to look at the fruit that comes from their trees. Closely examine your own fruit from time to time. It will tell you what's working, what's not, and where the "rotten spots" are.

With that context, perhaps these things will help. I don't disagree with others ways of looking at things. I've learned on my journey that the world is a big enough place for what seems to be contradictions to exist. As we come to higher levels of understanding, so of those contradictions may melt away.

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED OVER THE 23 YEARS
Please place in front of any of the below "In my model" or "I believe".

1. I believe that we each have needs. Human needs that everyone has (food, shelter, safety) and then an extra set that varies by person. Some people have a desire to climb rock cliffs and would be very sad if they couldn't. Many people don't that the slightest desire to do this. Any activity or thing that we desire it an attempt to meet those needs. The need is not to climb a rock wall, it's something more basic that that, independent of how we act it out. Anyway, People will tend to meet these needs in any way they can- constructive or destructive. Masturbation is an attempt to meet one or more of those needs. For me, I am meeting Intensity, Control and Nurturing needs due to things I've been missing in my life. I can elaborate if people think this model would help them or they want to know more.

2. Willpower and controlling the mind. This is the best quote that what I've learned here.

    An immense amount of suffering is caused by undisciplined imagination. The
    failure to control the lower passions (especially sex-desire) is the result
    of an undisciplined imagination, not of a weak will. Even though strong
    desire is felt, it is creative thought which brings about action. There is
    no danger in merely seeing or thinking about the object of desire, but when
    a man imagines himself as giving way to his desires, and allows the desires
    to strengthen the image he has made, then his danger begins. It is important
    to realize that there is no power in objects of desire as such, unless and
    until we indulge in imaginations which are creative. Once having done this,
    struggle is certain to ensue.

    In this struggle we may call upon what we think is our will, and try to
    escape from the results of our own imaginings by frantic resistance. Few
    have learned that anxious or frantic resistance inspired by fear are very
    different from will. The will should rather be employed to control the
    imagination in the first instance, thus eradicating the cause of our
    troubles at its source and origin.

    - Arthur E. Powell in "The Mental Body"

3. I believe it's best to think about what you are doing, even while you are doing it. Let yourself think about why you are doing what you are doing while you are doing it. In other words, denying that you are doing something doesn't help you learn anything about it. At a certain point you may not learn anything more. You need action. But you will definitely get something out of this excercise if you've never let yourself think about it during the act. A Christian once told me that his pornography addiction was a "illegitimate way to meet a legitimate need.". That in combination with point #1 helped me understand what was happening to me.

There's an old poem that says (paraphrases).

    I walk down the road. I don't see the hole in front of me. I fall in.
    I walk down the same road. I look for the hole, but I miss it. I fall in.
    I walk down the same road. I see the hole in front of me, but I don't stop. I fall in.
    I walk down the same road. I see the hole in front of me, but I can't stop. I fall in.
    I walk down the same road. I see the hole in front of me, but I walk around it.
    I take a different road.

We move back and forth between these steps at times. It's obviously not this clean and linear. The idea here is that these are all steps. Watching yourself walking into the hole and not being able to control yourself is part of the human experience. We are not complete masters of ourselves. We are here on earth to learn from that fact. BUT trying not to see what you are doing because it's too painful throws you back a couple steps. Denial doesn't help you any. I think that you all know this otherwise you wouldn't be on this message board.

EXAMPLE FOR those that need one....
By allowing myself to be at the "can't stop" step and by studying why I couldn't stop, I created the following list over time.

WHY STOP...
- Giving in to it only makes you want more
- Giving in only makes the hole worse and you more empty
- The more you do it, the harder it is for you to figure out how to have intimate relationships without it
- You get it confused with intimacy
- You never figure out what the real need is and attempt to meet that instead
- It hurts your marriage and any relationships that you want to have in the future in the long run
- You create tension fighting with it.
- You could lose your integrity if you keep fighting with it.
- It controls your life to such an extent that you waste large amounts of time struggling with it. Time that you could be using for more positive things that make you happier without the same ill effects.
- You use it as the only outlet for passion and so it blocks other possible sources
- Even if your marriage doesn't work out and part of the sexual problem is her "fault", you'll need to have control of this before you jump into another relationship or the same thing could very well happen all over again. You'll probably pick better next time, but you don't yet know what your entire part is.
- If you are going to be on the dating scene again, this will not help you to make good logical decisions. It's caused you to make bad decisions in the past.
- If, in fact, you dump your marriage for this, you may lose things that you can't gain from someone else. People as dedicated as your wife don't grow on trees. Write out the positives here.
- The "I want it all now" syndrome is not the truth. You are not going to be so old later on that you can't experience what you can't find what it is that you want to experience.
- The next step is going to make it even harder to deal with. You are closer to the next step.
- The more you think about it, the harder it will be to control. You know this to be true. You can find replacements that over time, will fulfill you as much or at least much closer than now without the bad after effects.
- Truly connecting with another, allowing intimacy and love without sex.
- Music. Playing out on stage really singing what you are about and feeling emotions.
- Peace and relaxation.
- Physical activity.
- This is good training for you. There are other things in life that will be like this. Realizing that you have a choice and can make a hard decision like this will help you later on.
- It hard for you to truly control it. When you get a little, you want more. There is no end in your current state. (Or is there?)

Why NOT STOP...
- You feel fully alive even if just for a moment.
- You cannot control how your wife feels at this point and she probably won't change anytime soon until some of the weight comes off. This gives you more control.
- Buries the pain at least some of the time. You don't know when the end will be, if ever.
- You do not yet have the other sources of passion set up.
- You'll waste time fighting with it.

Until the WHY STOP list is big enough, you won't stop. You can use will power to try to stop, but you'll always have some motivation that you don't understand pushing you to return to the old habits.

4. Write down a picture of what your life would look like after you've beaten this problem. Don't lie. You may be surprised that that picture you hold in your head is centered around the WHY NOT STOP section above. All the things you will miss by stopping. Work to build a picture that works on the WHY STOP section. Read that everyday. We are built to meet our needs as humans. We will not jump over a "mental crevasse" to the other side unless there is something on the other side that's more attractive then where we are, even if we think we are in "hell". There is something keeping us where we are. Even if you feel it's Satan, the best thing you can still do is understand yourself to you know where his holds are. It's scary to jump through that "nothing space" in between when we don't know what will happen. Having a good vision and trusting in God are the best things to insure that you make the leap.

5. Nature abhors a vacuum. You must replace your masturbation with some other activity that MEETS YOUR NEEDS. I puts this in caps because you need to think about this. What does reading the Bible do for you? Why do you like it? Warm baths? Why do you like them? Replacing masturbation with something you don't like doing or which does not meet the need you are filling via masturbating may not be the best place to start. Asking yourself why you like something helps you get to the root of the experience so you can find more things that you can replace this activity with.

You need positive input to replace the excitement or porn and wonderful relaxing feeling you get during and after the masterbation act. Face it. It's fun or you wouldn't do it. But there are things that are much more powerful and satisfying. I've felt them. I know they exist, but I have difficulty getting to them because they don't feel that good right away. I need to have the faith that God opens a window when he or your closes a door. There is a way out and it'll feel much better. See the part on Vision again.

6. Don't give in to the guilt. Some say that guilt is about image. You imagine this image of this other person you should be. Accepting that you are not, though painful, can help somewhat. You are a person who masturbates. You are human. That is not such a hideous thing that you cannot be loved. Sure you will dislike where you are, but hating yourself into changing doesn't work long term. It often just creates more tension, which drives you to cope by meeting your needs, and then your meet them in the way you are accustomed, usually by masturbating.

Pull yourself towards the positive, don't run from the negative if it's possible. Long term, running from the negative doesn't work because your are controlled by how bad you think the negative is at any one time.

Your worth comes from God and not from performance to some standard. Remember? After accepting yourself where you are, it becomes easier to change.

A couple things that help me here.

I've heard this from a couple of pastors and other religous types and it would seem to make sense, but I'm fallible. I put it here because I beleive it to be true. Someday, I'll verify it.

The best translation of the word used for "sin" in the Hebrew/Greek Bible is "to miss the mark." Archers used the term to mean that they did not hit the bulls eye. So when you miss the mark, you try again. It's not a good/bad thing or anything else. The fact that you missed the mark is regrettable. You may have hurt others, but very few of us try to miss it on purpose in a malicious way. The best thing to do is understand why you missed it and try again.

The best translation of the word used for "commandment" in the Hebrew/Greek Bible is "point the way". The commandments are a suggested way to live. I've spent a lot of thinking time understand why I should follow them. They all have logical reasons. I prefer thinking about them in this way because I don't get so rebellious. God gave us suggestions. We don't have to follow them, but we can't break the law in the end. We can only break ourselves against it.

Anyway. This is compilation of what's helped me. I hope that it can help some of you.

~ Rob, a member of CIR

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