Are We Escaping or Just Avoiding PMO?

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
What?s the difference between escape and avoidance?

I call my journal, How Shall We Escape? It's a reference to the patriarch Joseph fleeing from Potiphar?s sexually aggressive wife. It also refers to the biblical injunctions to ?flee? sexual temptation.

(references: Gen 39:7-12; 1Cor 6:18; 10:14; 2Tim 2:22; 1Jn 5:21)

Yet, in behavioral addiction such as PMO, MO, etc, there is such a thing as avoidance itself being bad, or harmful. Avoiding triggers and cues actually strengthens your urges, keeping addictions or habits alive. This is also seen in OCD and other anxiety disorders.

If we put ourselves in certain situations that cater to the addiction, our resolve weakens, and we give in.

But in the lower animal-brain there is fight or flight, which if we respond to, we perpetuate our addiction.

So what is the difference between the two concepts? Fleeing temptation as in escaping versus the ?fight or flight? response to addiction?

Fleeing as the Bible teaches, is toward an immediate escape from sexual sin. It?s what we want to do toward our addiction to P/MO.

But there are also warnings toward legalism, ...touch not, taste not, handle not (Col 2:20-23). Avoidance toward these actually strengthens our desire toward the forbidden or illicit behavior (Rom 7:18-25).

And the flight of avoidance seems like it wants the same goal of ?recovery?, but it's only a reaction toward the urges.

Again, to flee or escape from addiction itself is from our higher brain (the prefrontal cortex). So our planning out situations, changing habits, is about actual change.

Whereas avoidance, fight-or-flight, is from the lower brain. And so avoiding triggers and cues are in response to urges, and so only perpetuate the addiction.

The bottom line? It?s a choice between:

1. Fleeing bad habits because it?s rational and common sense in ending our addiction. We control our environment ahead of time, and not in response to urges.

2. Or, avoiding triggers, gives external things and situations power over us, thus strengthening our addiction.

The first is running in a straight line away from addiction. The second is running in circles around the addiction.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
You're welcome, Robert!

Finally, someone appreciates this! (just joking...)

Seriously, to understand this takes the cover off of 'triggers', and demystifies it, as that's such a big concept for most here.

Be well.
 

King Leer

Member
Yeah if I understand what you are getting at... We will never be able to avoid our triggers completely, eventually we will have to face them down and conquer them instead of avoiding triggers altogether which doesn't really do anything to actually break the addiction.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Yeah if I understand what you are getting at... We will never be able to avoid our triggers completely, eventually we will have to face them down and conquer them instead of avoiding triggers altogether which doesn't really do anything to actually break the addiction.

Yes, basically. The triggers, what I prefer to call cues, they will change eventually as we consistently refuse to respond to them or the urges that may arise from them. This refusal to respond isn't by avoidance, or by directly struggling against them, but by mindfully recognizing them, and dismissing the urges non-judgmentally.

Like you said, eventually we'll have urges come up- and we won't always know what the cue was exactly. But as long as we've only avoided our triggers, we have only reinforced to ourselves that we aren't strong enough, or don't have it in us to do the right thing when the under temptation.

If we learn that our ability to dismiss urges is always there, and that we'll always have that space between cue and our response (or non-response), then we'll understand that outside 'triggers' or cues have no power over us. This includes whatever it is for you, and it also includes powerful emotional cues that come from deep places of hurt or trauma. If we stay mindful (don't go on auto-pilot), and not react to nor respond to cues, we'll learn to take back our control.

 
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