Good day everyone,
It is leap day, a day that only comes around every four years. Despite the rarity of the day, is there anything that makes it special? Can you recall what was happening in your life on February 29th 2008? Do you remember what you did on that day? I cannot, and I do not think I am alone based on the conversations I have had so far today…
This got me thinking about character. There is nothing memorable for me about the last number of February 29ths besides their rarity. The character of the day was not any different, and character ultimately defines things. Perhaps before we go any further I should define what I mean by character…
For the purpose of this posting, I am defining character as the traits that identify us as unique individuals, making up the moral compass through which we filter our actions. Sure, many of us share a number of traits, such as (hopefully:) kindness, empathy, patience, self-control, integrity, genuine concern for the welfare of others, etc. Some of us possessing these traits act upon them, others do not. Each of us acts differently from day to day. The circumstances we find ourselves in will often dictate our attitude and actions; unfortunately this may trump a conscious choice to act a certain way regardless of circumstances. Our character is what identifies us with others. We all know people who are defined by their anger, their negativity, their willingness to cut others down, their propensity to see the worst in others and in themselves. We also know people who are annoyingly positive regardless of what is happening to and around them, to the point where we do not buy their attitude as genuine.
How does this relate to pornography addiction? Here is my take on it – we all have a moral compass/conscience/filter/whatever through which we view life. This is made up of the character traits we feel are important. If we are not living accordingly, there is dissonance. If our actions are incongruent with our morality, we may recognizing the challenges this poses and self-correcting, or we may justify our actions by entertaining the slippery-slope of excuses, ultimately negatively affecting our character. There are most definitely shades of grey in between these bookends – some coloured commendable, some shaded reprehensible.
How does this negatively affect our character? Through slow erosion. If we lean toward the excuse bookended side of the shelf, our attitudes toward what we once deemed guiding moral principles will shift to mere suggestions, ultimately ending in offensive suggestions about how to live our lives. Porn definitely has this power.
Porn will shift your moral constructs when it comes to humanity. You will view women differently, children differently, violence will become more acceptable, you will value yourself and your own satisfaction as paramount, on and on and on. It creeps. If you are not there yet, you will be given time and exposure to increasingly deviant forms of pornography. It will continue to get weirded and weirder the longer you are involved.
Your character will shift, and you will not be able to reconcile it. When we do not live according to the moral constructs we have for ourselves we cannot be happy. If you are living apart from how you want to be living, it is time to change.
Maybe today can be the start of something different. Change takes time, and will not happen overnight. It does take a first step, however, and that first step usually happens in our minds. If you take the step now you may be able to reflect on four years worth of change when the next leap day roles around. It will be memorable – it will have some character…
Individual and group pornography recovery treatment is available through Juniper Tree Counselling and Psychotherapy Services (www.junipertree.ca).
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