There are a number of ways to understand the underpinnings of sexual addiction. One primary way of making sense of this disorder is to see it as a means of coping with strong negative emotions or experiences. These can include low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, anger, wounds from the past, self-hatred, loneliness, grief. Sex addicts have never fully developed the capacity to tolerate, sit with, then process negative emotions in healthy ways. Instead, they latched onto acting-out as a quick and convenient method of neutralizing these negative feelings.
Acting-out is a powerful panacea for virtually all distressing emotions. Why? Because it works! At least it works in the short-term, providing relief, comfort, escape. But once these positive effects wear off (and they always do) reality comes crashing in. Shame, guilt, damaged relationships, self-loathing, depression, despair—these are the inevitable consequences after the high has subsided.
One aspect of sex addiction recovery involves learning to accept life’s problems and the negative feelings that accompany them. Facing problems and the feelings that go with them can lead to greater wisdom, maturity, and inner peace. Dr. Scott Peck has identified a set of tools required to solve those problems and face those feelings: Delay of gratification, dedication to truth and reality, acceptance of responsibility, and life balance. With dedication and practice these tools can become a part of your life and will assist you in facing problems and feelings rather than escaping from them.