• Dr. Michael Johnson

    Psychologist, Specialist in Problematic Sexual Behavior

  • Dr. Michael Johnson

    Specializing in Sex Addiction Treatment in Austin, TX

Take a Friendly Attitude Toward Your Thoughts

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Your mind is who you are and your thoughts are the tiles that make up the great mosaic of self. In your thoughts you can know about the sensations, actions, postures, and conditions of your body - your physical self. In your thoughts you can know about your feelings - pleasant and unpleasant - your emotional self. In your thoughts you can know about your motives and your desires - the attractions and aversions - your motivational self. In your thoughts you can know about your beliefs, delusions, recognitions, perceptions, ideas, resentments, and appetites, - your intellectual self. Your mind - your awareness - is where you are and what you are.

Taking this into account, two things become clear. First, active sex addicts fill their thoughts with obsession, shame, lies, manipulations, maneuvers, and self-loathing - not a very friendly crowd of thoughts. Second, sex addicts try to control everything, including their thoughts. It is part of the disease. Of course, controlling everything is utter folly and it requires tremendous energy - energy that is not then available for other more productive purposes. Energy that cannot then be directed to knowing ones own self.

This has been part of the problem. Addicts don't know themselves because they have not spent time in the friendly company of their own thoughts. A thread in the fabric of recovery, then, is to come into a clearer knowing of self - authentic self.

The goal, then, is to develop a deeper, clearer, more insightful relationship with self. The way is merely stopping to listen or see what is in the mind. This is the means of developing a more mindful way of living. There are many ways of working this point. They all have in common relinquishing mental control and judgmental thinking, remaining settled and motionless, focusing on breathing, and allowing your mind to show itself to you. There are many methods for developing this sort of relationship with self and these go by many names including meditative prayer, meditation, self-hypnosis, and so forth. What follows is a generic description of the process.

The steps in this process are simple but not easy.
Do this exercise at a time and place where you will not be disturbed.
Sit in an upright posture without resting your back on any surface. This may be done in an armless chair or seated on a cushion or pillow. The goal of seating is to find a comfortable position so that moving is not required. Fold your hands gently in your lap.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Do not alter your breath. Merely focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, and it will, refocus on your breath. When you find yourself thinking in words instead of observing experience without the interference of words, interrupt the word thinking. The purpose of focusing on breathing is to give your obsessive mind something definite to do. This helps to steer you away from your habitual patterns of thinking, planning, remembering, judging, and controlling your thoughts. You may want to count to five or seven or ten with each inhalation and exhalation. If that assists you in maintaining focus, then that is useful and should be used. Do what works.

In a while your thoughts, in all their forms, will begin to float into your awareness without conscious effort. When you quiet the surface of the mind, the content of its depth gradually becomes available. The mind wants to know itself and is highly prepared to do so if given a proper chance.

This is the part about taking a friendly attitude toward your thoughts. Most of us - I dare even say all of us - have learned to label, judge, categorize, evaluate, and compartmentalize our thoughts. We exercise our attractions and aversions to certain mental experiences in this way. In so doing, we distort our realties. Instead, simply notice what you notice. When you notice a resentment simply notice it. Do not shove it away mentally and do not grab hold of it. Simply let it come and pass to be replaced by the next thing the mind delivers to you. This is difficult and you will find your obsessive tendency to shove or hold is a habit difficult to resist. But with practice your can develop this skill. Do the same when you notice a delight or a boredom or a fear or a pain and so forth. All thoughts are wheat. There is no chaff. Do not be afraid when dangerous thoughts come to your mind. Simply notice them and let them go. Thinking is not doing. You have spent a long time teaching your brain how to think dangerous sexual thoughts. Your brain is just a hunk of stuff with those dangerous patterns etched into it. But in the stillness of your own mind, a thought is merely a thought. It is not an action. It becomes an action only when you grab hold of it or a counter action only when you shove it a way. In this activity you are not observer of your own thoughts. Notice the feeling or sensation beneath the dangerous thought. You may find that it is a deep wish for peace. You are the "experiencer" of your own thoughts. You are separate and a part. As you let go of the compulsion to act and control, you narrow the gulf between the source in the mind and the experience in the mind. Simply allowing yourself to experience your own thoughts is a very effective way to deepen your knowledge of yourself, develop true sexual awareness, and enhance your insight.
Begin this practice with 15 or 20-minute sessions two or three times a week. Too much too soon is discouraging. Be gentle with yourself - allow yourself time to become accustomed to the posture and the mental experience. Let go of expectations. What happens, happens. Expectations direct attention and create the seed of obsessive control. What happens is what happens.
When you complete the exercise, do not fall into obsessive analysis and thinking. Let the experience be. The effects of this kind of work develop in the deeper, realer, truer, part of your mind and conscious attention only muddies the waters. This development is gradual.

If this method isn't your cup of tea, find a different brew. The important part is to develop a practice that helps you to develop self-awareness and especially that helps you get honest with yourself about yourself.








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