We Are Not Prey
This week’s post is an excerpt from Jay Stringer’s article “Shame’s Massive Role In Porn Use.”
Many of us tend to think we feel shame in response to using pornography. What might surprise you however is that the reverse is also true.
The more we feel shame, the more we will be drawn to use pornography.
Why? Shame drives us to behaviors that reinforce the judgment we hold against ourselves. Whatever your judgment is, you will inevitably pursue behaviors that provide evidence to confirm that core belief.
As a counselor, I often have a front row seat to the debilitating nature of shame. Shame makes us want to hide. It tells us that something about us is beyond repair or intrinsically foul and we would be better off unseen. Our discomfort is unbearable. All we can do is run from how widespread our problems seem to be.
At some point in our lives, we will have to engage the stories that shame tells about us. Do you believe you are not good enough? Too insecure? Too awkward? Too stupid? An intrusion? Whatever your core belief about yourself is, be on alert for how you will manufacture evidence to confirm that belief. Embedded within your shame are clues into the stories that convinced you that you were unwanted in the first place. Those stories, not the shame of pornography use, are the most crucial to address if you desire wholeness.
How do we begin to reduce [shame’s] power? Believe it or not, the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week holds a clue for how we can disarm and, eventually, overcome our unwanted sexual behavior.
In my book Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our way to Healing, I discuss an interview with Andy Casagrande, the cameraman responsible for the harrowing and death-defying footage of aggressive and large great white sharks. Casagrande was asked what in the world he does when one of these behemoths is swimming right at him.
His surprising answer was that he has to do something completely unexpected: swim straight for the shark with his camera. Swimming toward the shark seems to trigger an instinctual defensive reaction in the sharks. According to Casagrande, “The reality is that if you don’t act like prey, they won’t treat you like prey.”
So what does swimming with terrifying sharks have to do with our shame? Simply this: we need to face it.
The experience of shame is the apex predator of our lives, and our impulse to evade our “great white” memories will only set us up for lifetimes of living as prey to shame’s accusations. Just as a shark swims away when challenged, the power of shame is disarmed when we confront it, not flee from it. To be sure, shame is a merciless beast, but every time we consciously choose not to behave as its prey, it becomes less powerful.
Contributor: Jay Stringer (excerpt from “Shame’s Massive Role In Porn Use”)