Does a basketball or tennis star succeed without practice? Of course not. But you might be thinking: “They’re star athletes and I’m not. So the practice rule doesn’t apply to me.” That’s your mind talking. That’s an excuse. If you’ve read the book Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame, or if you’re in counseling at Compulsion Solutions, you know that you are not your mind, you are not your thoughts, you are not your story.
Similar to a basketball or tennis star, you are the star of your own life. You are the one on the main stage. You are the one making the decisions that matter. Consequently, as the star of your own life, if you want to get better at living a life free of sexually compulsive behavior, you need to practice.
Although there are many new ways of thinking and behaving that you can practice, here are four simple practices for success.
Practice One: You Are Not Your Thoughts, Your Mind, Your Stories
As you go about your daily life, and especially if you get triggered to act out sexually, it can be difficult to remember that you are not your thoughts or your stories. You are something more than that. How do you remember to stay in touch with the part of yourself that George Collins calls “your essence”? How do you remember that you are not your mind, your thoughts, or your stories? You practice. When you start believing your mind or your stories, you practice questioning yourself. You practice staying in touch with your essence.
Practice Two: Dialogue
When you’re triggered to exhibit sexually compulsive behavior, it takes practice to immediately start to dialogue with the part of you that is pulling you toward acting out. For Compulsion Solutions’ counseling clients, dialoguing has proven extremely effective at breaking the cycle of sexually compulsive behaviors. But you can’t remember to dialogue only once in a while. You need to constantly practice dialoging.
Practice Three: Remember to Say “What Else?”
George Collins has a technique he calls “What Else?” If you want to look at porn, for example, and you believe you can’t stop, you immediately say to yourself: “What Else?” What else can I do? Take a walk. Ride a bike. Get an ice cream. Similar to other techniques to break the cycle of sexually compulsive behaviors, saying “What Else?” takes practice.
Practice Four: You Always Have a Choice
When that voice in your head that is your addict self is attempting to convince you to look at porn or act out in some other sexually compulsive way, you may fall back into believing that you are powerless compared to your addict self. Such thinking is your addict using your mind to hoodwink you. It’s not true. You are in charge. You are always in charge and you always have a choice. But you need to practice making a positive choice.
Practice Breaks Habits
Everyone takes it for granted that physical therapy may be required to rehabilitate a leg that’s been injured. Physical therapy is practice. Similarly, what is required to recover from unhealthy cycles of sexually compulsive behavior is also practice. Understanding is not enough. Success takes practice.
You most likely have habits based on decisions you made in the past. Now is the time to change those habits through practice. If you practice the four practices mentioned in this article, like the basketball or tennis star, you can be the successful star of your life.
by Andrew Adleman, M.A., Compulsion Solutions Therapist