Don't Live in the Problem, Live in the Solution.
Today I want to share some big Yesodos that I learned from Dov. (If anyone has experience with what really works, it's Dov. Once a slave to an all-consuming lust addiction, Dov is now sober for over 18 years! See Dov's story here).
It often takes a lot of trying and failing before we are finally able to say in all honesty - as Chazal say, "If Hashem would not help him, there is no way he can beat him (the Yetzer Hara)". And this is the first step of the 12-Steps; admitting "powerlessness". The reason the struggle is so hard for us - and the reason we keep failing at it, is because we are struggling with something much more powerful than us. However, once we admit powerlessness, we basically come to the realization that we can no longer "struggle" with lust at all. We can't "work on this area" or try and "change the way we think". We can only "let go" of it completely and not even give lust the time of day. If lust comes into our head or if something comes into our field of vision, instead of struggling with it, we just tell ourselves: "I can't struggle with lust at all, I am an addict", and we just "let go of it" in our hearts completely.
How do we do that?
Well, if it's far too hard for us to focus on and struggle with "the problem", the only way to succeed is to live instead in the SOLUTION.
What does that mean?
Lust is all "me centered". It's all about me. The "solution" is to start living for others and for Hashem. We need to train our minds that when we feel lust, we just laugh and say "hey, what can you expect from an addict?" and then painlessly switch channels to a channel of "giving" and "gratitude" instead of being "Me focused". For example, if we feel lust for someone, we switch channels to thinking what we can do for that person instead of what we can take from them (after turning away of-course, otherwise we won't be able to let go of the "me mode"). We can daven for them to have everything good in life and a true connection to Hashem.
When we feel lust, we can switch modes in our mind and begin to think of all the blessings we have in life, to feel gratitude to Hashem etc, which brings us to think about what can we do for Hashem. And we can think also about what we can do for others, and how we can make ourselves more useful to others... We need to change our mode of thinking from the "me-centered-getting-mode" that breeds lust, to a mode of "giving and gratitude" outside of ourselves.
And the miracle is, that by changing the way we think and the things we do over time, we find that the problem goes away by itself!! In other words, we can't fix the problem; forget it, it's way too strong. But when we live in the SOLUTION and focus on living "outside" of ourselves, the PROBLEM automatically goes away...
All this "struggling" with the Yetzer Hara and "working on ourselves" - that's for OTHERS, NOT for addicts. We cannot deal with lust at all. That's the secret of the first step. We need to completely bypass it, let go of it, and give it up to Hashem. And it is only when we do this step - which is to recognize that we are addicts; that we are ill; that we cannot deal with lust AT ALL, only at that point we can begin our journey to recovery and learn how to surrender it to Hashem and GIVE IT UP COMPLETELY.
Ironically, it is only to admitting powerlessness that we are able to ultimately find true freedom!!
Our minds tell us that if we stop lusting and if we don't feed our lust, life will be much less fun... But our mind is LYING to us. It is the exact OPPOSITE! It is ONLY when we finally GIVE UP on struggling with lust and LET GO of it, that we will finally be able to find true freedom and happiness.
Another Yesod from Dov on this topic:
"Letting go of lust" should only be done "one day at a time". It's too hard for addicts to think in such terms as "letting go of lust" for life. We can however, decide that "today, I am completely letting go of my 'right' to lust. Today, I won't give lust the time of day".