In the last chapter, you completed your first ERP exercise. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to do it now.
The common mistake that people make is to think that the ERP is a tool that they can use to avoid acting out.
In actuality, it is the complete opposite. ERP is the tool that you must use consistently and systematically when you do not feel like acting out. Let me explain.
Remember our discussion about the triune brain model, and how the emotional brain can take over our body and make us crave, feel, and think things that we don’t really want in our life?
If your emotional brain begins taking over and forces you to act out, your thinking brain will be too weak to remember to do ERP. It would just not seem like a good idea at the time.
ERP is not a tool to help you stop yourself from acting out. It is a tool to help you train your emotional brain to crave different things.
That is why you must use ERP consistently, daily, over a significant period of time (at least 30 days) in order to see a desired result. This is your workout for your emotional brain.
You are training it. You let it feel a little bit of craving, and you train it to react in a healthy way.
As you continuously repeat the training, your emotional brain will realize that this activity is important and will begin automating the process.
Do you remember when you were first learning to drive the car? How difficult it was? You were completely present in the process, and it required a lot of conscious effort on your part, right?
How do you feel about driving a car now? Chances are you spend most of your time spaced out, thinking about your day, listening to the radio, or talking on a cell phone.
The same thing will happen with your ERP practice, if you practice it regularly.
To this day, I still get a call from my reptilian brain to act out. But now when it happens, my emotional brain has access to two kinds of memories. One is my previous acting out behaviors that forced me to associate pornography, TV, computer, magazines, etc. as powerful sources of pleasure.
But I also have a new kind of memory: the feeling of self respect that I feel when I choose to walk away from my addiction and to turn to a healthy outlet instead. To me, this feeling is stronger than any benefit of acting out that I could possibly get.
Additionally, when I feel triggered, I notice myself beginning to engage in an ERP practice automatically without having to think about it. I literally notice myself beginning to take deep breaths without even having to make a conscious effort.
This new habit, of course, only comes with consistent practice.
I hope that a consistent ERP practice will help you develop a similar – new kind of memory and an automated healthy response.
Today, I encourage you to download a pdf with sample motivation statements and choose at least 20 (from the PDF, your sexual recovery plan, or your imagination) that really speak to your soul.
When you are done, write them on 3 by 5 cards (small cardboard cards) in a large font. One statement per card, and use these cards in your daily ERP practice, making sure to read out loud to yourself.
People learn the best by a combination of doing, seeing, and hearing. When you use the cardboard cards, you see them, move them, and hear yourself read them, which greatly facilitate your learning process.
Next, we are going to take a look at an important strategy you can use to help you break free.
I am proud of you! Keep up the good work!