How Problem Solving Skills Can Make Life Manageable For Porn Addicts

Charlie in deep thought about Families and Addiction

Home improvements are not my forte. I start with a vision and desire for improvement, but lack a strategic plan for achieving it. Furthermore, when I get started I find myself driving to the hardware store dozens of times—each time to procure that one other tool I had never heard of before. Jobs take me hours and leave me exhausted.

All too often the vision I had at the beginning is half realized, and I am disappointed with the shoddy results of my work.

This isn’t unlike coping with life for many of us. We grow up in environments where we weren’t taught how to strategically deal with life, and we certainly weren’t introduced to tools we might need, let alone taught how to use them! Step back and consider just how often you feel “out of your depth”, unsure, or unable to cope.

Negative Effects of Pornography Use

Porn addiction is similar to using a hammer as a drill. The goal is to screw this 2 by 4 in place, and I am flailing a hammer around wondering why the screw doesn’t budge? Or, I am feeling overwhelmed and in need of rest, and I run to the computer, masturbate and end up feeling isolated and less able to engage real people.

Not all porn addicts recognize the myriad ways it negatively affects them until they enter recovery and discover their cognitive distortions and ineffective ways of engaging the world. My hope is that I help you start to consider if this is true for you.

Of course, unlike many upbringings I wouldn’t want us to see the problem, start to feel it even, and then leave you “high and dry”. It is vital to start learning the tools you need to begin recovery. A large section of these skills fall under the category of “problem solving”.

This is because a porn addiction can quickly become our default way of dealing with stress, anxiety, failure and insecurity; we need better methods to tackle these all too common experiences. The dirty secret here is that many people don’t know how to cope—they simple cover up and survive in a different way, food, exercise, chauvinism, the list goes on…

Developing Problem Solving Skills

It is important to note that problem solving skills aren’t ways to eradicate discomfort and frustration in life. These experiences are a given in a fragile and chaotic existence—we cannot eliminate all stress and discomfort!

We need to learn how to deal with them. I encourage you to look into mindfulness, emotional regulation, and general healthy ways to manage your life. Here though, we will learn a specific and powerful template to help you move through problem solving.

Step 1: Observe and describe the situation you face.

Your aim is to start by writing down just the facts without judgments, assumptions, or interpretations. For example: “There are multiple credit card bills in a pile, unsorted.

Then you identify what is problematic about this situation?  For example: “Unpaid bills can create debt, I don’t know what I owe, and I may miss a deadline for payments.

What are the obstacles to solving the problem? For example: “I am afraid to look, and I may not have enough money, and I believe if I don’t deal with it the problem may go away.

Step 2: Check the facts of the situation.

You are actively engaging in double-checking if what you wrote down in step 1 is accurate. In this case you would open the bills, add up the total payments required and check to see how much money you currently have in the bank. You may also consider your next payday and how that aligns with your bills due dates, and then write this information down.

Ask yourself, “How distressing is this situation?” Accurately name your experience and attend to your needs (not at the expense of continuing to solve the problem though).

Step 3: Identify your goals in solving the problem.

Keep these simple and achievable. For example: “I want to start paying back what I have spent, and stop spending more on credit cards until I have paid back 80% of what I owe.”

lonely man on the bench autumn, winterStep 4: Brainstorm as many ideas as you can to achieve your goal.

Do not restrict yourself, every idea should be written down before you evaluate them. This allows you to remain creative and flexible in your approach.

Step 5: Choose a solution that fits your goal and seems likely to work.

You can help yourself do this by prioritizing them first, and then making a pros and cons list for the top couple of choices.

Step 6: Put the solution into action, accepting that fear and anxiety may arise as you do so—this is a normal experience.

Remind yourself that you have actively considered the best option and are helping yourself.

Step 7: Evaluate the results of the solution with self-compassion and honesty.

Try another solution if you are stuck, and ask for help from trusted others.

If you enact this method of problem solving, you will find your self-esteem grows, your desire to run away reduces and you will start to take control of your life in the areas you can. Find others that can help you commit to this process as necessary.

 


Paul LoosemoreAbout the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com where you can find his guide, or contact him.


References:

[1]: Adapted from: Linehan, M. (2014) DBT skills training manual


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 7, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.