There’s a phenomenon in sex and porn addiction called “compulsive looking.” This is the act of looking at attractive women — be they in print, on a screen, or in real life — for a little too long. The aspect of compulsive looking that makes it problematic is that, unlike other people who may be able to take a long glance and move on with their day, you feel as though you must keep looking. You fear that if you look away, you may miss something.
The truth is, you are missing out on something by engaging in this compulsive looking behavior: things like peace, integrity, calmness, and relief. You know that you want those things in your life, but your addict is blocking you from it all.
So, now comes the time when you must ask the question, “Who’s running the show?” Is it you, or is it your addict? For many sex and porn addicts, their addict has been running the show for many years.
Compulsive looking comes from a tendency to objectify women, and overcoming the urge to do that can happen with the help of a 4-step process.
- Notice Your Behavior: Pay attention to what you are doing. Whether you are staring, or fantasizing, or making excuses to walk by an attractive woman, take note of what you are doing, and own it. You can’t stop behavior unless you realize you are engaging in it. As you continue to practice, you will get better at recognizing compulsive behaviors sooner.
- Signify Stopping: Do something physical to remind yourself to stop your behavior. You can place a hand on your heart, you can make a noise, you can squeeze a tight fist, you can blink your eyes, or even literally shake your head “no.” Whatever you choose, make the deal with yourself that the signal means it’s time to stop.
- Say Your Affirmation: Whether you say this out loud or not, have a phrase you use to remind yourself of what to do next. Some men simply say “I do not want to objectify this woman,” and that works for them. Think about what works for you. Perhaps something along the lines of “I have better ways to spend my time,” “I want to remain faithful to my wife,” or “I am in control,” can become your affirmation.
- Say Thank You: This is the final step, but a very important one. What you just did was not easy. You stood up to your compulsion, took control back, and made a better choice. That kind of behavior deserves recognition and thanks.
This process is something you can do anywhere. In public, it may be more difficult to do some of my other methods such as having a dialog with your addict, but simply stopping your compulsive behavior in its tracks is a practice you can engage anywhere and anytime you need it.
Remember that no matter how out of control you feel, you’re not. You can always make the choice to make a positive move instead of a negative one. Remember, you are the one running the show.