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Obsessed with Getting a Lamborghini?

What does it mean "giving up your right to lust"? How is that different than the concept of not taking the first drink?

obormottel Monday, 09 February 2015

My sponsor used to use that lingo a lot and SA's White Book has it somewhere, too. I use it because, to me, it means that my biggest problem is when I think I can afford to partake of lusting (and eventually also other things like feeling sorry for myself, burning jealousy, resentment, etc.)

It's kind of like not having money to spend on some basics, yet struggling with a strong desire for a huge house, fancy car, etc. It really only drives me crazy as long as I am harboring a secret fantasy that I actually ought to be able to spend such moneys - so it feels deeply unfair. "Look what everybody else can have!"

The guy who wants a nicer car might have jealousy and longing that hurt terribly and make it impossible for him to let go of his obsession with that pretty Pontiac. He may even start to hate other people with nicer cars, and feel sorry for himself with his embarrassing 1997 Malibu. But who among us is obsessed with getting a new Bentley or Lamborghini? They are completely out of our league. We do not take the desire that seriously enough for it to have a real emotional impact on our lives. And even if we do desire it, it does not become an obsession with us, because we are aware that we cannot afford it - it's nuts. That is, we surrender our right to have it because of reality.

The chains of imagined entitlements fester in us for years while our resentment to G-d and feelings of inferiority and arrogance become so intertwined with our lusting (for sex, or even for other stuff), that they are indistinguishable to us! So when we lust or act out, we often find that we also have lots of emotional pain. We may blame it on the evil of our lusting. We may co-incidentally feel we are worthless garbage, G-d must hate us, or get fired up at others for all sorts of things or people (makes no difference whether for valid reasons or not). We have had many fights as a result of our lusting, and gotten wrapped up in lust as a result of many fights. Chicken-egg, egg-chicken....even the Colonel couldn't figure it out! It's a mevuchah. And then there are the other people faced with us - our wives, children, coworkers, friends, etc. They need to actually live with us whether we are having attacks, or not. Poor folks.

On the other hand, once we give up on our ability to afford such things in the first place, the landscape is changed. We forfeit our perceived right to have such things. Sure, all our problems don't go away - but instead of painful confusing feelings intermingled with lust, our lust problems tend to be just what they are: lust. It's a different battle now. Instead of being waged in a fight to the death with 'desire' (poor me/tzaddik me/gibor me...), rather, it is clearly a struggle to the death between me and a lunatic(my goofy body and addiction). A lunatic, that's all.

That's why psychoanalyzing our lust, relating it to abuse and other trauma, is basically blaming. It makes the lusting 'respectable', for it is in response to something. Most people I know are not helped much by that stuff. Sure abuse needs to be faced (with good help), but our lusting is still just plain old lust. It's unacceptable lunacy - unless one sincerely believes he or she can afford it. I am not addressing such a case, though there are surely many people who believe they can afford to keep using lust (and that's why they do!).

If we really believe that we do not have the ability to afford to take in a porn image or to get what we would like to get from taking-in that lady's great body image, then we will be able to ask Hashem to save us from the compulsion (and from the devastating pain we have after passing up the sweet opportunity). If we still believe we have the right to try to get those things we admire so much (nice body, etc.), we will feel sorry for ourselves and be confused about why Hashem isn't giving us what is clearly a very nice thing.

Is that clear yet? It's not the entire solution, but certainly a very big part of it.