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Brennan: Being both the scientist and the subject

Brennan Cartwright

Change Challenger Brennan shares how he has been both the scientist and the subject to help achieve his goals.

Change Anything

As I’ve begun my change journey and created a plan using the Change Anything model, the thing that has most impressed me has been how important it is to be a change scientist studying ourselves. Over the years, I’ve read books and attended many support groups that rely on the typical science to overcome sexual addictions. However, using the Change Anything model has really helped me figure out the ways in which I am different from the norm.

For example, people recommend those who struggle with sexual addiction should increase their time at the gym because it relieves tension. As I pondered my own crucial moments, I realized that for me, the gym creates crucial moments. There are a lot of beautiful people at the gym and watching those people not only fills me with a lot of sexual charge, but it also makes me feel depressed that I don’t look good. When I come home from the gym, I’m depressed and often binge eat. Next thing I know, I’m spending time on the computer indulging my addiction. I realized I needed to create vital behaviors to combat these moments such as making sure I don’t go home to an empty house after the gym. This was a breakthrough, because by standard addiction literature, the gym was supposed to help me, not create more temptation, right?

I’ve also been impressed at how much stronger this change plan is now that I’ve incorporated strategies in all six areas of influence. I feel like I’m really tackling my problem from all sides. In the past I’d set up structural barriers to avoid the problem and when I’d mess up, I’d blame my lack of personal motivation. I realize now that the barriers were nothing more than an extra challenge to jump over before diving into the behavior. This next week, I will write a journal entry visiting my default future and one describing the positive results I expect to achieve because of this change.

It was a little hard to come up with social influences as sexual addiction isn’t typically aired out in public in our society. But I’ve got a few friends who also struggle with these things and we’ve developed a google doc where we each report on our actions every day. I will also share my portion of this spreadsheet with my wife weekly (since it will be much more motivating to report to her than others who also slip up and are more forgiving). I also have a few acquaintances who would argue that the sexual behaviors I classify as harmful addictions are a wonderful part of life. I am not terribly close to any of these people, so I see no reason to remain their friend on social networking sites.

I’ve also set up structural rules to be more conscious of my internet habits. I’m going to try to log each time I get on my computer at home. I will write down my purpose for being on the computer and then report on how well I stuck to that purpose. It will be okay to have a purpose of browsing the internet as long as it is not at night and as long as there are other people around. Otherwise, browsing the internet will not be an acceptable reason to be on the computer.

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned as I’ve worked to create my change plan.

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3 thoughts on “Brennan: Being both the scientist and the subject”

  1. Mathew

    Hi Brennan, and other such accountability tools may also be useful to check/use in this change process.

    Wishing you the best in a very challenging journey,

  2. Eris

    Brennan, it is very brave of you to share this struggle in such a public place! Good luck to you.

  3. Jody

    I just want to tell you how impressed I am at your courage and strength. First, for being so honest with yourself and finding the crucial moments and habits that need to change to beat your behavior. Second, for the courage you exhibit in sharing your behavior and struggles so openly and publicly.

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