I’ve been writing about anxiety a lot recently.
The reason is that I’ve realized how titanic the role of anxiety has been in my developing addiction to pornography.
In the last few posts on pornography addiction I’ve been going into the causes and consequences of dealing with anxiety with porn, but today I want to talk about what makes pornography such a perfect (temporary) anxiety medication.
The easiest way to get rid of anxiety (temporarily) is to forget it. That’s why so many of us develop addictions to all kinds of stimulating substances and activities.
I believe that some form of anxiety lies at the root of most addiction.
Certainly there is a physiological reason as well, such as dopamine desensitization and chemical dependency, but those seem to arise after the fact.
Anxiety also has different facets and levels of intensity, as may seem obvious when we think about all the different circumstances that allow anxiety to arise, from going to a party to finding yourself in a war-zone.
In order to forget our feelings of anxiety we look for substances or activities that are so stimulating or engrossing that nothing else can catch our attention.
People have used all kinds of things that fit this bill, for thousands of years. Alcohol is arguably the most obvious of addictions in the collective consciousness, but there are all kinds of other ways to forget, as you probably already know.
Cannabis, gambling, tobacco, opiates and cocaine are all prime candidates, but all of these along with alcohol tend to form very obvious consequences that are easily recognized and usually heavily stigmatized by the people around us.
Alcoholics, for example, develop a notorious body odor and the changes in behavior make others feel very uncomfortable. Smokers tend to smell like the ashtrays they seek wherever they go, and crack addicts become highly neurotic and paranoid. All of these side-effects are highly repelling to most people, and there will be dire social repercussions.
That’s why most of us, especially when our anxiety is more mild than extreme, seek more socially acceptable ways of forgetting. Sugary food and drinks, television and video games, coffee, sex and pornography are all more or less socially acceptable and they all more or less allow us to forget uncomfortable feelings of anxiety.
So why do I say pornography is especially sinister? The reason is simple, really, when you give yourself a bit of time to think about it.
In the last few years, with the advent of ubiquitous high-speed internet and smart phones in every persons front pocket, seeking out pornography has become easier than ever before. This ease of access, along with the fact that porn plays on our most primal, powerful urge to reproduce, is what makes pornography addiction inevitable in people with anxiety.
It’s even easier to binge on porn than to binge on sugar or television or video games, because it’s a solitary act, and leaves no traces (when you use incognito mode, at least).
This is a major problem for society, due to reprogramming of youth, especially of young men, to become unable to get aroused except by pixels on a screen. Real boobs and butts won’t do it anymore.
I say this is a societal problem because, as I’ve experienced in my own life, inability to become aroused by real people leads directly to depression, and stokes the fires of anxiety that you sought to extinguish with porn in the first place. Depression leads to unemployment, social isolation, all kinds of other physiological ailments, and at the extreme, suicide.
However, the main problem lies with the individual. Society is made up of individuals. In fact, society only exists as a collective of individuals. You and I are society.
This means, I believe, that individual responsibility is the key to a healthy society. How can people take responsibility for something they don’t understand?
That’s why we need to direct our energy, on an individual basis, toward understanding our anxiety, where it comes from, what we do on a quotidian basis to relieve it, and what the consequences are or will be. We can’t depend on a broken society to save a broken individual. The individual needs to learn to save him or herself.
Meditation is an immensely powerful tool for self-change. It’s not a quick fix, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Meditation should be looked at as a life-long activity. Throughout the years, meditation has been my anchor in a life that’s been rocking violently back and forth on the tidal waves of coincidence and chance.
Writing a journal has also been invaluable to me, as a tool for thought-organization and introspection.
The bottom line is this: Forgetting anxiety is a temporary solution, with dire long term consequences. Instead of seeking unconsciousness, seeking ways to move our attention away from our most difficult feelings, we need to seek ever more conscious living.
Becoming fully conscious of our anxiety as it is happening is the key to truly overcoming it.
I’ve written several articles on the power of meditation and journaling, which have been the keystones of my life for many years now, and the benefits are still compounding exponentially.
I wish you all the best in your journey of expanding consciousness.