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It’s Not About Trying Harder!

Candeo Co-Founder, Mark Kastleman

If you’re like virtually everyone who struggles with pornography use and other unwanted sexual behaviors, you’ve tried to overcome your addiction countless times, only to fall right back into your old cycle. Why does this happen over and over again? It’s not because you’re weak, flawed or a lost cause. In fact, you struggle because you have great strengths that have become weakness. Everything you need to break free is already built into the very structure of your brain. You simply need to learn how to harness and redirect these natural abilities until your weakness becomes your greatest strength. Remember, your porn addiction is a specific way of thinking and behaving that has developed over time through repetition. But your addiction does not define who you truly are-it’s not you! Let’s take a brief look at how your brain has formed your habits and addictions.

The Enormous Power of Habits

Have you ever observed children as they go through the wondrous and often frustrating process of learning their first simple skills? Tiny fingers awkwardly struggle to tie that first shoelace bow. A nervous hand laboriously scrawls a barely-legible name. When you finally let go, you hold your breath and watch anxiously as your wide-eyed child pilots a precariously wobbling bicycle down the sidewalk. At first these simple tasks can be excruciatingly difficult and time consuming. But with each repetition the task grows progressively easier until something magical happens-you don’t have to think about it anymore, it becomes automatic; you’ve created a “habit.”

The remarkable power of habit-formation is built-in to the very fabric of your brain and the rest of your nervous system. Habit formation is your brain’s number one priority. Why? Because the brain’s watchword is efficiency. Since the moment you were born your brain has focused intensely on being efficient. And the most effective way to be efficient is through the formation of habits. This is what your brain seeks-to focus its energy and attention on mastering a skill and as quickly as possible make it automatic-a habit. Your brain can then move on to direct its efforts at learning and mastering the next skill. This is how you continually grow and progress.

Addiction is a “Habit on Steroids”!

While your brain’s habit-formation power is a remarkable gift, it can also work directly against you when you attempt to break out of old habits-especially highly advanced habits like “addictions.” Once your brain expends the time and energy to develop a habit, whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t want to give it up! Imagine what would happen if each time you tried to walk, speak, tie your shoes or engage in any other already-learned skill, you had to master it all over again? What if every time you got in your car you had to stop and think, “Now what does this pedal do, and what are these knobs and buttons for?” Were it not for the power of habits, you wouldn’t get very far in life. Once a habit is in place, your brain stamps it with “mission accomplished” and vigilantly guards what it has worked so hard to create. In essence, your brain builds a 20-foot-high, 30,000 volt, razor-wired, super-security fence to protect all your hard-earned habits, boldly displaying the warning sign “KEEP OUT!”

Addiction is your brain’s habit formation tendency “on steroids”! Hundreds or thousands of times, your brain has “practiced” turning to pornography and other sexual behaviors as the most convenient, powerful, efficient way of instantly escaping boredom, stress, loneliness and the pressures of life. These outlets have become your brain’s automatic, dominant “drug of choice.” Everyone has their own “drug of choice”-some are productive and many are destructive. Consistently practicing turning to a particular drug of choice makes that choice automatic-an addiction.

So, what do you think happens when, after giving in yet again to your addiction, under the terrible weight of guilt, regret and self-loathing, you declare “That’s it, that’s the last time I’ll ever do that!”? Your brain responds: “Hold on just a minute! Let me get this straight. Just because you’re feeling guilty and depressed, you expect me to abandon years of energy and effort and simply jettison this incredibly pleasurable, powerful escape and means of self-medication I’ve worked so hard to build? I don’t think so- that wouldn’t be efficient!”

Stop Fighting What Your Brain Does Naturally!

In the past, when you’ve tried to break out of your addiction, you’ve been fighting against the natural current of your brain and quite frankly it rebels! You’ve tried sheer willpower, hyper-avoidance and abstinence, running away in fear, giving in and a host of other techniques-none have worked. Instead, why not “go with the flow” and harness the power of your brain’s marvelous habit-formation abilities?