Day 710: Addictive Habits

This video on porn & masturbation addiction support got me to thinking about what it's like changing any habit that you have.

I say 'habit' because habits are quite similar to addictions: it's something you do over and over. You are often driven by a compulsive need (though with habits it's not experienced with that same intensity). It is something that you have done so often that it is now automatic - you don't even have to think about doing it.

Sure, there are definitely some differences, and some habits are pretty damn useful (although this will then be determined by how and what you define as a 'habit') - let's say you have a habit of checking over a room before you leave it to make sure that everything is in order. That's a pretty useful habit. You may feel like you are missing something, or like you have forgotten something if you for some reason don't check a room - but hey, even that's pretty useful.

Another example I could give is changing your posture habit. I have a pretty slouched posture and I know how damn difficult it is to change the habit of slouching to a correct posture - you constantly have to remind yourself "posture". It takes a conscious effort to change this habit of slouching - not to mention teaching and training your muscles to hold themselves differently.

So, let's get down to the point of this post. When you are stopping an addiction, the experience can be similar to that of changing a habit. Addictions are somewhat different in that they are usually connected to some pretty strong experiences (physical or emotional/mental), whereas habits are generally relatively "neutral" experiences. So let's compare an addiction to porn/masturbation with the habit of leaving the milk out of the fridge. While both are actions learned over time, your connection to the addiction would be much stronger than your connection to the milk. In other words, you will experience greater emotional turmoil when stopping the addiction than you will when changing the habit.

So then how the hell are these things even relevant enough to write an entire post about? Good question. I don't know! Not.

Stopping an addiction is as much about awareness of your thoughts and actions as changing a habit. Sure, not everything about the 2 processes are the same (or even similar), but an addiction is very much like a supercharged habit that may or may not include physical dependency.

In both cases you are constantly reminding yourself to change your thoughts and behaviour. In both cases you are changing a behaviour or thought pattern that has become automatic. In both cases you must be consistent and persistent - anything less leaves the door open for relapse. In both cases you need to be willing to see and assess yourself objectively.