Some triggers can be extremely subtle: a taste, a texture, a fragrance, or even a certain sound. When you find yourself in the grip of one of these vague triggers, it can be incredibly frustrating. You feel the compulsion to act out sexually, yet you have no idea why. Learning to suss out these hidden and less obvious triggers is vital to your recovery, because understanding them is the first step towards neutralizing them.
We are all programmed by our history. We know from our history that there are some everyday tasks that work well for us. For the most part our history has programmed us in a way that is appropriate, and fits well with our lives. The problems arise when our history crosses over into our addiction. Your own programming can work against you when it comes to arousal, or sexually compulsive triggers.
Think of it in terms of a computer. In essence, you have to clean up the corrupt software that keeps causing you to be triggered. To do this, you will need a “virus scan” of sorts, to help you uncover your own history. Just knowing what your triggers are will help you understand them, and take back control of your own behavior.
It could be any combination of events that cause you to sexualize non-sexual things. These associations come from memories. For me, the combination of seeing the blue sky, and hearing the sound of high heels was triggering. It reminded me of driving to a porn theater. When I first discovered what this hidden trigger was for me, I felt scared. Those are extremely common sights and sounds, and I am likely to encounter them all the time.
In reality, exposing the trigger for what is was, and bringing it out into the daylight helped to dispel the power it had over me. In the movie The Wizard of Oz, there is a scene where Toto the dog pulls back a curtain to reveal that The Great and Powerful Oz is really just an old man pressing buttons. His power was demystified when the truth about him was revealed. This is what you can do with your own triggers.
You could be walking down the street and see a woman who has that particular “look” which you find triggering – whatever that may be. Your first impulse might be to bring up porn on your smartphone, perhaps looking for a woman who matches your fantasy. However, if you know that you are being triggered, you have the advantage of awareness ahead of time. You can realize that you are just reacting to a certain sight, sound, smell, taste or feel, and you can use the tools you already have to take back control.
A great way to practice recognizing and dispelling your triggers, is to try this method out with non-sexual triggers. Think of something that triggers drastic behavior from you. This could be a certain type of news story that you find upsetting, or a certain type of driver than gets you angry. When you find yourself confronted with these situations, see if you can recognize them for what they are, and let them pass without acting out. You might even find yourself smiling at the situation – and why not? You have just gained back power over your own actions. That’s a huge step towards recovery.