By Josh Gilman:
My friend texted me: “Man, I’m struggling so much right now. I was having a great day and then as I’m trying to go to bed … man I am so tempted right now.”
Sometimes I wouldn’t have the best insight into this, but I was was pretty sure I knew what was going on this time. I gave him a call and and asked: “Are you watching the Jays game?” (That’s a baseball team for those that don’t know or care).
He said he was and wanted to know why I asked. I laughed and said that the Jays were currently giving up a huge lead. And as I knew he was a big Jays fan, this would obviously be causing him anxiety.
Let’s back up a bit here and talk about ice-cream. There are times when you are eating dinner and someone says “Here is some ice-cream”. Since you like ice-cream, you are happy to eat it. But the times when you crave ice-cream are often when you are sad, or lonely, or depressed and need comforting. That’s why we call it comfort food. We are having a down day and so we eat a bowl of ice-cream, or pop open a bag of chips. We aren’t able to fix the thing that is bothering us so we turn to food (at least that’s my experience … I’m not the only one right??).
If you were having a serious ice-cream eating problem, the solution wouldn’t just be to try to eat less ice-cream. The solution would be to stay away from those situations which make you WANT to eat ice-cream. We call these situations triggers. They are the things we need to deal with in any scenario of addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, and yes, porn.
Now back to the Jays game. There are few things in life that can swing our emotions like sports can. When your team does well, your emotions sore! When they lose, you are crushed. When the game is close, you feel highly anxious. All of these emotional swings are strong addiction triggers.
Connecting Sports and Porn
Most people don’t watch porn “just because”. We watch it because we want to overload our sensors. We want to fire off as much dopamine in our brains as possible in order to dull the feelings we want to avoid. Feeling sad? Porn. Feeling lonely? Porn. Feeling anxious? Porn. Once you’ve trained your brain to use porn to dull all these things, then anytime you feel them, you will crave porn.
This is why watching sports is ruining your fight for freedom from porn. Each time you watch you are putting yourself in an emotionally triggering situation. When I was in the middle of fighting the hardest, I had to quit watching sports. I just knew that I couldn’t handle the extreme highs and lows of watching my favourite team win or lose. Years of porn addiction had trained my brain to seek out porn to deal with emotional swings. I didn’t want to put myself in that potentially triggering situation. I wanted to avoid situations that made me vulnerable to porn. The great news is that I healed from porn and began to renew my mind. I became mentally stronger and things like my favourite team winning or losing had less of an emotional impact on me.
One Last Thing
Compared to watching sports, I do encourage you to participate in sports. Getting outside and active is great for your health and being healthy is good for your body, mind and soul. It is also great for building friendships and community and support networks.
Most importantly, when you are tempted to watch porn or act out sexually in some way, be brave enough to be honest with someone. Tell them what triggered it and answer their questions honestly. You’ll find that your battle will become eminently more winnable.