Today we’ll look a little deeper at triggers. What they are and how to identify them. Triggers can be broken down into two categories:
What people most commonly think of when they think about triggers, typically involves people, places, things, or events, ie. walking by the lingerie shop at the mall. The list of possible external triggers is endless, it can be anything that reminds you of porn or incites sexual feelings.
Some common external triggers include:
- Exposure to sexual stimuli (banner ad on website, things on instagram, reading something online)
- Unstructured alone time
- Negative experiences
- Positive experiences
- Stressful situations – financial problems, family issues, arguments
This is typically a response to some kind of emotional discomfort. A common response to shame, anxiety, anger, fear, boredom, guilt, stress, depression, feeling unappreciated or any other uncomfortable emotion is push back that feeling with porn or masturbation. Sexual self-gratification acts as an instantaneous emotional booster and distraction.
Triggers also often occur externally and internally at the same time and tend to stack on top of one another. Say your car breaks down (external trigger) which causes you to feel angry and frustrated (internal trigger). Then you pass a sexy billboard on the way home.
Triggers come unexpectedly from all corners of life. You can be smart about reducing your triggers as much as humanly possible (ex. make your home your safest space), but cannot eliminate them entirely.
You need to be smart about how to handle yourself when you feel yourself wanting to act out or on the road to acting out (edging).
The first step is getting familiar with your triggers. Take a piece of paper and list everything you can think of.
What are your external triggers? From big things to watching sex scenes in movies, to little things like making eye contact with an attractive person on the street.
What internal states commonly lead you to act out? Anger? Loneliness? Stress?
Share this list with your AP and with your group members’ next call.
The next step is to have a plan for what to do when you experience your triggers. By far the most effective method is to communicate about it with someone else. Call/text your AP or group members to let them know what happened and what state you’re in. Rather than resisting, acknowledging it to another person does wonders. Then you can do something (listen to the urge surfing audio from Week 2).
Share some of your triggers down in the comments below.