If you really want to give up …Part 2
24 Jan 2017
(Part Two of a two-part post)
As it’s January – the time for New Year’s resolutions – it’s not surprising that the level of calls to PRUK is even higher than at other points of the year. Sadly, many people who contact us are reaching out because things have already become too difficult for them to manage alone. Other contacts are being made as people discover that what they thought would be easy to achieve – not using, or cutting down on, porn – is more difficult than they had first thought.
In Part 1 of this post, we said a number of things about ‘really wanting to change’, whether that was controlling how much you used porn or wanting to stop using all types of porn completely. But, what if you are already certain about your desire to live your life differently in relation to porn? What ways are there to get started?
We asked nine people we have worked with, plus lead therapist at PRUK, Duncan, for their tips for helping people get started on controlling their negative issues with porn.
1. ‘Be honest with yourself. Stop trying to persuade yourself you don’t have a problem. Clearly you do. Then stop hiding your issue and share it with a trusted person, partner, friend or therapist’ (Charles, 47).
2. ‘Don’t go cold turkey’ (Will, 55). Just giving up rarely works. There are some people who can do this but you probably aren’t one of them.
3. ‘Plan your campaign’ (George, 42). Like most things in life, a plan can really help when there is something to be achieved. Plans don’t have to be complex but they must be realistic. If you read Part 1 of this article, you’ll know that setting up new habits takes considerably longer than you think.
4. ‘Read about how other people make progress and change in their life – and that doesn’t have to be porn-related at all’ (Alex, 36).
5. ‘Try working with a “good enough model” or with “acceptance”. Both can seriously help you get going with your change process. I think this is especially true for particularly heavy/frequent users’ (Duncan, lead therapist PRUK). You can read about this way of working through the Therapy Place Blog.
6. ‘Restrict yourself in your looking habits. You can’t go free range anymore. Nominate only one website that you will look at. As your confidence grows, set yourself new rules. I stopped looking for hardcore acts and began to use gentle search words as my first restriction update. You won’t get them right 100 per cent but I quickly got from some pretty extreme things back to looking at people enjoying having sex’ (Charlotte, 24). NB: This is a technique we often mention to people we are working with, but there are some dangers when using restriction methods on your own. You can get in to a cycle of: Restriction –> Binge watching –> Guilt –> more Restriction –> more Binge watching –> more Guilt. If this is happening to you, then take care. You are likely to be setting up a negative and self-esteem sapping cycle. If you notice this about yourself, it might be a good indicator that you are the type of personality who will be more successful through working with a therapist or in a group.
7. ‘Give yourself positive treats for success and set yourself goals’ (Maria, 30).
8. ‘I learned the importance of making a contract with myself and writing it down during the REWIND programme trial in 2015. There have been loads of times that I just didn’t “use” because I had made a new monthly contract with myself’ (Leo, 31). Personal contracts can be as simple as writing on a piece of paper or in your diary: ‘I have decided to not view porn until at least such-and-such a date.’ Some people feel they find strength and resolve in signing their own contract. It is then important to review and update your contract a little in advance of the date it runs out. Evidence from our work with contracts suggests that, for some people, they can make a huge difference to their success in achieving their goals. (See cautions in Tip 6 above.)
9. ‘Don’t say, “Right, that’s it; I’m never going to look again.” If you do, you’re setting yourself up for a fail – probably, the very next day’ (David, 58). David’s tip links neatly with Tip 5. Start with ‘good enough’ and/or ‘acceptance’ goals of your use, and work towards gaining more control over a set period of time. We definitely agree with David, ‘Never, say never.’
10. ‘Put the focus on real sex. No matter that you think there haven’t been any negative affects on your sex life, you’ll discover that there have been. Enjoy the extra vitality your sex life can gain. My therapist said that, at best, porn used 2.5 senses whereas sex is one of those rare things in life that you can use them all at once. Porn changed sex for me and it took a long time to realise what I’d lost – and a lot of hard work to escape. But it seems to have been worth it’ (Robert 52).
Still needing further help? At PRUK we run a unique, cost-effective 12-month long programme called REWIND. Click to go to our website to find out more about the REWIND programme.