Friday, March 11, 2016

The Power of Putting Cravings Into Words

I encourage clients: When your mind starts to make the case for indulging in porn, type into your phone what it's telling you and text it to me. Most of them find that they "get nothing" at first when they attempt to listen within and put into words their inclination toward acting out. Yesterday one client texted me, "My mind just tells me it will feel good."

Don't accept that level of argument and leave it at that. You can increase your awareness of the inner workings of your mind. As you do, you will increase your level of self-control.

Some folks hesitate to put the "pro porn" argument into words because somehow that seems to mean they see the sense in that line of thinking and bought into it. Actually, the opposite is true. By uncovering and writing out our darker desires, we drain them of their power. I like the way Mateo Sol describes this process:

"Embracing or integrating your shadow self [does] not mean to indulge in any desire that arises within you. Indulging your anger for instance, will simply result in more anger. By embracing your inner darkness I mean that it is necessary for you to 'accept' it. Accepting your darkness will allow you to take responsibility for yourself, and once you truly acknowledge one of these dark traits instead of avoiding them, suddenly, they will stop having control over you. By being honest with ourselves and accepting our shadow elements, it frees us up to truly witness the uncharted areas of our minds, allowing us to see that we are not these elements, but simply possess thoughts, feelings and drives that come and go. You cannot simply go "beyond hatred" if first you don't admit to yourself that you do in fact possess hateful feelings."

The same thing goes for lust. Many of my clients have tried to "go beyond lust" for years with little success, but then find that as they put their lust into words, essentially accepting that it is a part of themselves, the power their lust has to control their behavior is significantly lessened.

Over the years, here are some of the sentences clients have texted me as they've attempted to put into words the case their mind is making to indulge in porn:

  • "Can you believe what they're putting on mainstream websites these days? Appalling! I need to check out just how bad it's getting."
  • "I'm stressed out of my mind so I need some relief."
  • "Well, I've already done such-and-such, so this won't be all that much worse."
  • "Eventually it's going to recur again anyway, so why not now?"
  • "I've never seen anything quite so exciting, I just can't pass it up!"
  • "This won't count as a slip if I stop before it lasts too long."
  • "I didn't go looking for this, it just popped up as a sidebar on this mainstream website, so I can just enjoy looking for a minute as a freebie."
  • "If I stick to my limits I'll be okay. I'll just look at swimsuits and stop."
  • "I'll make the window really small, scroll down, and stop before I get to anything offensive."
  • "Now that I'm in the thick of it, I'll binge like never before so I can get this out of my system and stop the cycle once and for all."

You can see the humor in some of these. I used to present them to clients like a David Letterman Top Ten or a Family Feud Game Show list: "And the number one reason I go to porn is..." Often we'll laugh together at the silliness of the logic in the heat of the moment. But that silliness didn't become apparent to them until they actually wrapped words around their strong feelings. Laughter is a great at defusing the power of cravings.

Whether you're a client of mine or not, I welcome your emails ( and texts (801-564-7566). Start putting your inclinations into words and see if the process diminishes their power as I predict it will.

What arguments start to make sense to your mind when you feel tempted to indulge?


  1. The comment made that writing out our darker desires can actually drain them of their power is a powerful statement. It is hopeful that it can even be used in coping with anger. On a smaller scale, I wonder if it could be used to control things such as emotional or binge eating, etc?

  2. Yes, my clients tell me it works in those arenas as well! I remember one client texting me one morning, "I feel like pulling the covers back over my head and staying in bed." It amazed her that it was a relief to write about wanting to and sort of drained away the feeling that she just HAD to. Likewise, if someone is able to say, "I feel like walking out and slamming the door on my way," that is much more powerful and relieving (and more helpful) than actually walking out and slamming the door.

  3. Thank you for your reply. That is encouraging to know that verbalizing or writing it out can diminish the power of the temptation. It seems that this approach can be used in almost every area of our lives.