This is a tool used for dealing with visual stimulation or addictive fantasy. As we go through life, we are not in control of what thoughts pop into our minds. However, we make a distinction between that experience and the practice of indulging in addictive fantasy. The three-second rule helps keep us on the right side of that line.
Likewise, even with the best intentions, we cross paths with people or encounter images that we could use addictively. That is part of life. However, obsessively scanning for attractive people on the street, focusing on people’s body parts, or staring at stimulating images serves to fuel the addiction. These activities make us vulnerable to more serious behaviors.
The way the rule works is that we make an agreement to give ourselves a maximum of three seconds before turning our attention away from triggering images or thoughts. It is not a license to engage willfully in sexual obsession or behavior, even if only for a few seconds. The spirit of this tool is that as soon as we become aware, we turn the behavior over to our Higher Power and ask for help as quickly as we can. By doing so, we acknowledge our powerlessness and also our freedom to choose the solution.
During difficult times, we may use this tool many times throughout the day. Practicing turning away from our addiction and asking for help from our Higher Power is an important aspect of recovery. We have found that as we stay sober and grow in the program, we experience more and more freedom from the call of our addiction.