Why Do I Keep Doing What I Don’t Want to Do? ~ blog
That is a great question and one that we need to answer so that we can better understand why we have struggled with sexual brokenness for years if not decades. It has a lot to do with what happens in our brains when we begin to become sexually aroused by anything that is tempting.
Most of us have heard the phrase “muscle memory.” If not, then you have now. Here is a definition of muscle memory;
“When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.”
The main effect of this would be better called brain memory because our brains become trained in doing things through repetition. And if that repetition has gone on most of your life then certain activities we can do automatically. We don’t put a lot of thought or effort in brushing our teeth or having to relearn how to drive a car each time we get into it.
This creates efficiency of energy and thought and makes life easier. However, these same things apply to actions we take that can have a negative impact on us. This is especially true if the actions seem at the time enjoyable but later can cause regret. The guys at the bar after work are having a good time relaxing, feeling the pleasant effects of alcohol and community. However, that can all quickly change if you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror on the drive home.
God has made sexual experiences pleasurable. Our entire bodies are covered with nerve endings that respond to touch. We have desires that want to have a sexual experience which kicks in around the ages of 10-12. If those desires are experienced at a young age well before one is old enough to be married, our brains do not care if there is not a ring on the finger.
Just like we learn to like candy because it is sweet, we learn to like sex because it gives us pleasure. Now, put into the hands of teenagers through Senior Citizens a device with which they can pull up any sexual image or video of their liking and sexual addiction is easily achieved.
However, this is not new and due to the age of the internet. The Apostle Paul had the same struggle as he tells us in Romans 7:15 …
“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? He continues …
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
I know the same is true for you and the same used to be true for me. I became addicted to an activity that helped me escaped any and all pain in my present reality, see things that grabbed my attention and made me feel good and energized, caused me to become sexually stimulated and enabled me to have an orgasm … which felt really good.
However, there was a problem. The more I did it the more I wanted to do it. It went from me using porn to porn using me. It is an addictive behavior because it is a powerful and pleasurable experience. We can now have it almost any time and anywhere. We use porn to escape the bad things we are experiencing but it grabs ahold of us and pretty soon it seems like it is in control instead of us.
Thanks to the way our brains work over time and thanks to brain and muscle memory we reach a point where we can be tempted with very little and choose to act out again and again and again.
I have learned that anyone with a porn and sex addiction actually has a drug addiction. When we even begin to get a hint of sexual sin our brain starts to release 5 chemicals. The chemical testosterone gives us energy. Dopamine triggers feelings of excitement and exhilaration. Norepinephrine – gives the body a shot of natural adrenaline and raises memory capacity. Serotonin and Oxytocin also do their thing and for a while, we feel great!
The feelings these chemicals give us cause us to feel great. So much better than we normally feel. So, when our lives are experiencing stress and pain porn becomes the go-to drug of choice. These chemicals cost me nothing, exist between my ears and little or no side effects happen like slurred speech trouble walking and talking.
That is why we do what we do not want to do. Because our flesh really wants it. Our world has made it omnipresent for free and our demonic enemies love feeding it to us.
However, just as this bad and addictive habit can be developed in our lives we do not have to live as slaves to sexual sin. We have been given the choice to choose our master whether it be a sin that leads to death or our Savior who gives us life.
Tomorrow I will go more into developing the habits that bring healing instead of the habits that are hurting us in so many ways.