Posted by: Arden Compton | April 16, 2009

Clearing the guilt & shame from pornography addiction

Pornography addiction is fraught with guilt, shame and regret.  Most addicts are not aware that these feelings of guilt actually drive them back to the problem.  The more guilt, shame, and regret they feel, the more they think about their problem and dwell on it. The more they do this, the more likely they are to be triggered and eventually give in.  Also, sometimes it seems the only way to escape the nagging, depressing feelings of guilt and shame are to indulge in pornography.  This becomes an unending cycle.  The pattern becomes: “I feel guilty for looking at pornography, and the only way to stop feeling guilty is to look at pornography”  It makes no sense on a logical level, but that is what many pornography addicts are doing.

To help address the guilt aspect, I lead many of my clients through a visualization that is spiritual in nature, and very effective.  Below I have pasted an account from one of my clients that illustrates the process.

 

I asked him how much guilt, shame, and regret he felt about pornography. He indicated all three felt at about 5 or 6. So, I had him close his eyes, and visualize that he is standing in a mountain meadow. I asked him to put a shape to the guilt, shame, and regret he felt, asked what it would look like. He reported that it was a strong wind blowing sand in his face. I had him repeat: Everything I have ever done that led to this sandstorm in my life is in the past, and I cannot change any of what was done. The best thing for me to do is learn something good from it. So, without excusing myself, I forgive myself for the things I have said and done, and the things I have not said and done that contributed to this sandstorm and the guilt, shame, and regret that it represents. Every time I have ever viewed pornography is in the past; I choose to leave it in the past, instead of continuing to beat myself up for things I cannot change. I choose to be better. I completely forgive myself. I had Sam imagine that the Savior, Jesus Christ appeared in the scene, full of light, glory, love, and compassion. I had him imagine that the Savior said to him: Sam, you don’t need to keep this sandstorm in your life. I have suffered for all your sins, all of your mistakes, including this. Turn the sandstorm over to me, and you can be free. I asked Sam if he could somehow give this storm over to the Savior. He said was trying, but did not know how to do it. So I had him say, Jesus, I need some help with this; it is out of control. I don’t know how to turn it over to you. Can you please take this sandstorm, and all that it represents, out of my life? I asked Sam what happened next, and he said the Savior just waved his arm in the air and the wind stopped blowing and the sand disappeared. I asked him if he still felt and guilt, shame, or regret. He indicated that he still felt regret. I asked him what he regretted. He said he regretted how far behind he was in his life because of time wasted with pornography. It had slowed him down in his college education; it had ruined what might have been a good marriage. His life wasn’t where it could have been. I asked him to put a shape to these feelings in this scene. He said he saw a big area of mud. I then had him repeat: Everything I have ever done that has created this large mud puddle is in the past now, and I cannot change the mistakes of the past that have led me to where I am. As regretful as it is, as much as I wish I wasn’t so far behind in my life, here I am. I completely accept that the lost opportunities of the past are lost. I can’t go back and redo the past. I can only go from here. But as I look to the future from here, I have the potential to have a wonderful, happy life. I can still create a happy marriage. I can still have an awesome life. I choose to focus on where I can go from here, not where I wish I wasn’t. I had Sam imagine once again that the Savior appears, and asks him to turn over the mud puddle. This time Sam is somehow able to pick up the mud puddle and give it to the Savior. As he does so, it just disappears. I ask Sam if he still feels any shame, guilt or regret. He indicates that he does not. I asked him to visualize that he sees a cliff. I told him that to be at the top of the cliff would mean that he was free of pornography. I asked him to describe the cliff he is seeing. He said it is about 50 feet high, very steep and rugged. Maybe he can climb it, but it’s going to be slow going. I asked him to visualize the Savior being right there next to the cliff with him. I asked him to imagine that the Savior has a rope or a harness, and that the Savior will help him up the cliff. I asked him to describe what he sees. He said he climbs onto the Saviors back, piggy-back style, and the Savior ties a rope around him so he won’t fall off. I asked him to imagine the Savior carries him to the top of the cliff. About 15 seconds later he indicated he is at the top. Then I had him imagine that the Savior says to him: With my help you can stay on top of this problem. Don’t go near the edge of the cliff. Hang on to this rope, and I will always be near. I will lead you in safe paths. We then closed this visualization. I asked Sam how he felt, and he said he felt hopeful that he could overcome this problem.

He did overcome the problem – this was one important step along the way.

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