Philosopher M.L.A Hart explained that if a martian were to visit the Earth, s/he may explain a house fire as caused by a superabundance of oxygen in the environment. The environment the martian calls home is vastly different from that of the our own, making the differences plain.
A different perspective can be refreshing. It can also be challenging, and often unwelcome. That jerk you met with for a job interview that told you what his first impression was, in no uncertain terms, before telling you the job would not be yours does not hold a special place in your heart:). If, however, his advice was taken and your corresponding first impression improvement allowed you to secure a future job, maybe a little thanks should go his way. Perspective…a different one is something very difficult to get on our own. We need help, and should actively seek it out when dealing with problems in life. Friends, family members, co-workers, therapists, etc. can all play a valuable role.
The realization we need to make changes in our lives is hard to reconcile much of the time. We are reluctant, often due to our own pride, to admit that what we have been doing is not beneficial. Changes to our environment are no different. The men I work with wrestling with pornography addiction are resistant to change their environments, saying something along the lines of “If I have to change all this stuff in order to overcome this, that would show that I’m not really better.” Even though they say they want change, and they do or they would not be in treatment to that end, they have not yet recognized the role their own pride is taking in the problem. They have not come to a place where they are willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to ensure they are not caught up in the addiction. If that means they cannot have unguarded Internet access for the rest of their lives, so be it – that is difficult to accept when pride is involved.
Here is the importance of environment in recovery from pornography addiction, and why we need a perspective allowing pride to be reduced. Our brain associates activities with places, objects, smells, tastes, time of day, etc. As was discussed in the previous post (It Creeps…), our brain is amoral, meaning it does not have a moral compass. It forms habit based on what is beneficial and feels good, and pornography coupled with masturbation provides a strong chemical payoff for the brain. Our brain then associates places/objects/smells/tastes/time of day/etc. with pornography and masturbation. If you do it in the same place or places, your brain will immediately become heightened when you enter that place/those places, regardless of your intentions. The brain thinks it is go time, and the physiological processes associated will begin. This is why it is so important to change your environment when trying to combat an addiction to pornography. Once thoughts are in your head, and physiological responses have begun, it is difficult to deny the payoff your brain is looking for.
Move your computer. Move your television. Use a different bathroom (if available). Wherever it is that you view pornography and masturbate – change the space. I do not mean use an alternative space to view pornography and masturbate:). What I mean is that you need to shift the physical space – change the layout, move the furniture, paint the walls a different colour, get some plants, whatever – just change the space so your brain will not immediately associate it with looking at porn and masturbating. If scheduling needs to be changed as well, do so. Maybe you view email at night before going to bed, which is the first step toward looking at porn for a number of hours, followed by not enough sleep, resulting in a frustrating day at work the next day. View the email at a different time, in a different (safe) location. In short, do whatever it takes to change your environment. It may seem like a small, unnecessary step, but it is one of a number of small steps that if taken, will help to lead you out of addiction to pornography and masturbation.
The home environment is one thing. Another is the images you surround yourself with at work, the entertainment choices you make (movies, television shows, events, etc.), and the media you consume. What are the messages contained within? Are they overtly sexual? Are they sexualized to a degree that causes you to begin thinking about pornography/masturbation? If so, you need to change them. Not easy, but necessary. Your pride will tell you otherwise…
I would speculate that if our great-great-grandparents were able to visit us, they would say there is a superabundance of sexualization in our environment. It is everywhere, used to market everything to everyone. As far as pornography goes, just type in a few specific phrases and a world of whatever deviance you can think of will open to you via your favourite search engine. 30 years ago you would have had to work really hard to gain access to material that 8 year olds (and younger) can view easily.
What’s your environment like? Are you surrounded by sexualized messages? Do you surround yourself with media saturated with underlying or overtly sexual content? Do those you associate with sexualize everything? Do you? If a martian (or your great-great-grandparents) viewed your environment would they plainly see the overabundance of oxygen (sexualization of everything…) as the explanation for the house fire (pornography addiction)?
Juniper Tree Counselling and Psychotherapy Services (www.junipertree.ca) offers individual and group pornography recovery treatment options. Individual (children, youth, adults), couple, and family therapy services are also available through Juniper Tree.
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