Thanks to many modern scientists, most people today know about dopamine and dopamine cycles. Science is exploring the myriad functions of dopamine in the brain, but the one thing we can be sure of is that our brain loves dopamine. When you are recovering, this is good to be aware of. Many recovering addicts, in their brain's voracious appetite for dopamine, fall into the trap of edging.
The best way to explain edging is using a numerical system. Imagine that watching pornography is a level 5 dopamine hit and let's say most activities in the day, your brain operates at a level 2. Your brain rarely goes from 2 to 5. Instead, it edges. It will seek something that is a level 3. Maybe it's a social media feed or a few videos online. Nothing that is actually inappropriate, but simply a bit more stimulating than the mundane tasks of work/life. After a while that level 3 starts to get old, so then your brain looks for a level 4. Eventually, you end up at a level 5 – engaging in...
I’ve always been deeply impacted by Romans 8:1 - “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
You’ve probably heard this verse before, I know I had several times. But when I was deeply struggling with porn, this verse hit me like a ton of bricks for one simple reason…
I was violating it in every sense!
When you struggle with porn, it is hard to not condemn yourself. You feel guilty on the regular. Ashamed of your poor decisions. And fearful that you will get caught and lose your job, friends, community. When that is what your life looks like… how could you not condemn yourself?
But this scripture says otherwise. It says that the only requirement to avoid condemnation is to be in Christ Jesus. And though I have many imperfections and despite my 15-year struggle with pornography, I was always and will always continue to be in Christ Jesus.
So if that’s the case, what the heck am I doing condemning myself? And...
“Why is change so hard?”
These were the exact words I muttered under my breath recently as I pioneered a few new projects in the DeepClean community.
So there I was, sitting at my desk, asking a deep philosophical question in pure frustration. And then I remember - change is the only way I can grow.
Some days, I love change and openly embrace the challenges that come with it. Other days, it’s a slog and I’m just trying to keep myself afloat.
I am fascinated by Jerry Seinfeld, who is one of the most successful comedians of our time. He is unique in many ways, and obviously his massive success in an inspiration.
In a podcast with Tim Ferris at the beginning of this year, he talked about growing as a comedian means honing your craft every single day. In fact, for 4+ decades Jerry has written jokes for an hour every morning. No wonder he’s so funny!
He said something that struck me: You must learn to master your brain. Your mind and brain are not the...
There's good news here. If you asked me this question 5-10 years ago, I would have said "not much"!! It has taken the academic world a while to acknowledge just how damaging pornography can be to someone's well-being as well as their relationships. Research into gaming addiction is better funded than research into porn addiction!! However, there is emerging research on the topic and it is proving what we have known all along: Porn is bad for you. Who knew!!
The academic world catching up is a good thing because it means more research will be done which should lead to the development of better tools, models and mechanisms for recovery. But already, there is research indicating that in a clinical environment, porn addiction can be healed. That is awesome news because if it can be experienced in a controlled clinical environment, then there is hope it is possible for just about anyone.
Here's what you need to take away from this: Recovery is possible. Before the academic world started...
In Canada, for about 8 months of the year, the skin conundrum is non-existent. That’s because the temperatures are cold. People wear layers to cover their bodies. The conundrum is silent.
But every Spring, from about mid-May until mid-September, the weather heats up and the skin comes out. You know what I’m talking about. Shorts, tank tops, bathing suits, and bikinis. Summer is wonderfully fun, but it brings its share of temptations. I like to call it the skin conundrum.
My exposure to the skin conundrum has intensified in the last year since my wife and I bought a house right by the beach. Don’t get me wrong, we are super blessed and I love that I can go to the beach after work every day. But it presents challenges in the sexual integrity department. I have caught myself double-taking and fixating more than usual this year.
It’s a great reminder that what you fill your mind with matters. We ingest so much content and media today that sometimes we lose sight...
When I was struggling with pornography, I was downright scared to be termed an "addict." There was so much stigma and shame associated with the word, I did everything to avoid it. Sadly, my fear (and pride) held me back from getting the help that I desparately needed. If I was willing to call a spade a spade earlier, I could've got clean earlier too.
So how do you know if you're addicted? Well this is actually a very complicated question. Most research focuses on substance addiction – such as alcohol or drugs. Porn would be considered a process addiction, which is the same category as gambling. However, the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook for diagnosing psychiatric conditions, does not acknolwedge pornography addiction. The main reason is that there is still not enough evidence to support the diagnosis. That means we have to do a bit of investigating ourselves.
To qualify as a diagnosable addiction in the DSM-V, the condition must...
The stats are clear, a majority of men around the world are struggling with porn. And while some of these men have no conviction about it and maybe find porn beneficial, we know that most would rather be free of it. So why aren't porn-recovery services overwhelmed with demand?
The #1 thing that keeps men from getting the help they deserve and desparately need is shame. And we can all understand why. Struggling with porn is a personal, private and shameful experience. Then you throw in the fear of rejection, the feelings of disgust, the pain of spiritual disconnection and it becomes an outright mess. So what do you do if you're too ashamed to get help?
Well for starters, be honest with yourself. Most people are not actually too ashamed to get help. They are scared. Fear of job loss, fear of being judged, and fear of opportunity are just a few things that often hold men back. Sometimes it's fear on the other side - fear of being too far gone, fear of failing in the recovery...
The year is 1997 and it’s an ordinary day in the Sam household. My older sister is blasting Spice Girls and running around the house. I am watching TV, eating popcorn. My younger brother is doing both – running around with my sister at times, watching TV with me at others – to appease his big sister and big brother. Having two older siblings is exhausting, I’m sure.
Eventually, the three of us wind up in the TV room. The movie is finished. We have collectively decimated the popcorn and are now left with unpopped popcorn seeds. While many would consider these unhatched kernels to signal the end of the festivities, we were just getting started.
It is amazing how many different places in your own body you can fit a popcorn seed. Nose, belly buttons, fingers, toes, hairs, the list goes on and on. Most of the places we experimented with were safe bets. They could be easily removed. Until we got to the ears.
Knowing that sticking the seed...
It was only 30 years ago that a majority of neuroscientists believed once your brain was developed, nothing could change it. In those days, it was understood that the brain wasn't able to adapt. Some people had more mental capacity than others and that's just the way it was. Thank God we have come a long way since. Otherwise, recovery would be impossible!
Brain researchers have coined the term neuroplasticity to describe the brain's ability to change and it has become very clear that while this ability may reduce over time, it lasts much longer than people originally thought. That means regardless of age and regardless of how long you have struggled, your brain can change. It is scientifically proven and that is great news.
Re-wiring the brain is such a hot topic these days because people want to find ways to improve their thinking and ultimately their lives. Those struggling with sexual issues are no different. The question at large is, "can my brain change?" and the overwhelming...
A few weeks ago I was going for a walk in a park nearby. I love this particular area - it is serene, picturesque, and full of wildlife (we’ve had a few great-horned owl sightings lately). On just the other side of this great park is a canal that huge cargo ships travel through. It is fun watching the ships, and when the waters are clear, it’s also a really nice place to decompress, relax and reflect.
Recently, in one of my walks along the canal, I came across a pile of someone’s belongings. It looked as though somebody had a bunch of stuff to get rid of and picked a random place to trash it. There were coat hangers, toiletries, and a bunch of magazines.
After further inspection, I discovered these were not ordinary magazines. These were Playboys. I was totally stunned. I had never seen a playboy magazine in my life. In my 15 years of porn addiction, all of the content I consumed was digital.
Queue the moral dilemma. I had two options. First option - run away and...