Our Lust Problem is Just a Symptom
The experience I have is like this: If I don't do the behavioral things that teach me to be free of these things (like shutting my eyes or removing my glasses when needed, praying caringly for the woman whose image I want to lust with, making the calls I need to make to other guys and admitting the sometimes embarrassing truth about myself, diverting my gaze from the People magazines on the table at work, getting the heck put of Dodge when needed, or whatever...) I'll screw up. Doing these difficult and sometimes painful kinds of things, shows that I am surrendering my "right" to use lust, and they go a very long way toward aiding my recovery.
But if I only do those things, and consider the avodah the recovery itself, I am a fool. I'll screw up for sure, that way. That'd be taking the fight in my own hands all over again, and that's how I got into this mess to begin with! It'd be proof positive that I am still pretending that my problem was the lusting/schmutz/masturbation - but the truth is that my drugs of choice are just my way of dealing with my actual perceptions that: life is unfair and scary, that people are beneath me and no good, and that I am a useless stinker. My lust problem is a symptom of my own brokenness. If I don't learn a new attitude toward life, people and myself, I'm doomed.