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Life doesn't have to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.


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Life doesn't have to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

My last news blog was on the topic of 'pacifiers' and how adults use grown-up versions of them to soothe themselves from such as low self-esteem, anger or perhaps procrastination.  

I made reference to a brillant song by Yello which goes on to use the dark sea as a metaphor for life's struggles, confusion and isolation.  I didnt know it then but but I had made an inadvertent link with my next blog idea which is based on the well-known and dark quote from Thomas Hobbes, the 17th century philosopher when he described life as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (interestingly, he lived until the age of 91 - very old for 1690!).  Getting back to the link - Hobbes' work containing this quote was called 'Leviathan' - a sea monster.  The Leviathan was a symbol of control by rulers over people - it ruled by fear.

I'm often reminded of Hobbes line "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short", when I am listening to many clients.  Not because I am making judgments on their existences but because I hear how they describe their lives - without partners, or friends, or without work and income.  They are usually at a low point because of their sex or porn addiction.  In many cases they are 'hitting the bottom' due to the consequences of being compulsive for many years.  I sense them drowning in the big dark sea, struggling to get their heads above water again, as the sea monsters (debt, loneliness, isolation, poilce, courts, failure) circle around them. 

Life will be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" for addicts who stay in denial and don't seek help - the sex and porn addiction is a leaking, sinking  and rotted boat that has kept them afloat for a while, inducing a false sense of security but now threatens to abandon them to the murky depths.  By 'short' I dont mean an early demise, but a life potentially robbed of many good years which, as my successful clients say, could have been used to accomplish great things. 

And there's the thing - life doesnt have to "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"  - if you can't keep out of the rotted boat then at least carry a life-saver.  Counselling and therapy are just two such life-savers - all sinking addicts need to do is reach out as soon as possible to begin changing their destiny.  For some, early life was sadly like Hobbes' image of life - disrupted childhoods and patterns of rejection, withdrawal and abuse by bullies is a very common story I hear from clients.  Thankfully, some clients sense that life doesnt have to be like that forever - they can actually get back to the surface and start heading back to the shore.

Getting control over the addiction will unquestionably start to turn things round - in just a couple of months addicts regain power and confidence over their self-destructive habits and begin to see life as offering opportunity, friendships and aspirations.

Just one of the conversations that happen in therapy for sex and porn addiction concerns 'flow'. 

Flow is a word used to describe an optimal or peak experience - these transform life from being "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" into being sociable, rich, enjoyable and immersive.  To push the sea metaphor a little more, rather than sinking, a flow experience is one of complete control where we can stay on top and navigate our own way to go in the direction we choose.

If you can master regular use of good flow experiences then you will have one of the most potent weapons against addictive behaviours on your side.  By achieving flow experiences you will boost your feel-good neuro-chemicals so that negative feeling states are less likely to occur and when they do can be managed with ease. 

For too long addicts indulge in compulsive sex and porn which are ‘bad’ flow experiences - or in other words, fake flow experiences.  Addictive sex and porn feel like they have all the attributes of a flow experience - they feel (superficially) good, beneficial and rewarding.  In fact this is the lure and spell of such deceptively soothing pacifiers. A fake flow experience is more likely to be damaging – getting intoxicated on alcohol, high on drugs or escaping into the virtual world of porn might feel like optimal peak experiences but they are value-less in terms of long-term benefits. 

Switching from fake flow experiences achieved from porn or sexual acting out to good flow experiences arising from fulfilling and rewarding activities is the essence of recovery.  Find your good sources of flow and you will have another formidable tool to win the addiction battle. At Esteem Therapy, the learning about the role of fake pacifiers and phoney flow, the painful consequences, and seeking the new, good flows underpins successful recovery.


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