Future comes one day at a time
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1399  
In Today's Issue
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Daily Dose of Dov: Self-development got me nowhere
Series: The Science of Habit Change
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Daily Dose of Dov
Self-development got me nowhere
By Dov

It seems to me that the greatest useful change within myself from recovery so far, is the (imperfect) acceptance that "things will be OK in the end, no matter what."

Sounds overly positive/optomistic? Maybe. But accepting that G-d is in charge is the only satisfactory nechama to my body/heart in response to it's searing pain when lust "strikes" and I cannot give in to it. If I use lust, my life is clearly over, so I do not have the freedom to use it. But it still hurts terribly and at times I feel I must use it! I then tell my body/heart that "don't worry, it's gonna be OK, He'll take care of me and make it OK." Before accepting step 2 ("We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity"), I was out in the cold with no answer to this pain. So I almost always acted out. I had to. How can a person suffer so?

Before sobriety, even though I was frum, learned, said the davening, was aware that He is the Adon Olam, and knew the 13 articles of faith basically as well as I do now - it was just no answer for me then, at all. Nu. Apparently I had to be shown that I am truly powerless and come to the inescapable conclusion that I was a dead-man walking - but did not want to die, thank-G-d. I was sure - no, really positive, that there was no way out for me. It seemed clear to me that religion, G-d, and anything else that I had tried till that point, could not save me. I did not join SA with a plan to get better - I just gave up on my lifestyle and had no idea what to do - and no tangible hope of ever getting better. That really hurts if you are already a married man with kids and "a life", with no idea how to adjust to losing all that... I just did not want to die this way. Only then was I ready to start reaching out for Whoever was really in Power, and got better.

Is this a tangent? Sorry if it is, but I think it's important to share, because it explains my motivation for recovery. Until I finally lost - even as I was actively destroying my life, and ruining the lives of my wife and kids, with escalating and disgusting acting out - my paramount interest was: "self-development". Hey, it was my sworn duty (per Gr"a, R' Elimelech, mussar seder in yeshiva, and pretty much everything else in the Torah seems to imply that), though I was not doing a very good job! And it seemed to me that this all-consuming porn and acting-out problem I had was certainly, ultimately, just another area of self-improvement and Hashem's Will for me to "work on". I had a job to do....

In the end, as I hope you see by now, nothing could be further from the truth - in terms of my approach to it. We are not interested in philosophy here, just the business-end of recovery, I hope, so this shouldn't bother anyone.

Hey - my acting out had little to do with what's right/wrong or with philosophy, right? So recovery had to be basically along the same lines, as my life does today. In my case, as long as I was fighting this problem in order to become a better person- or even to do what I saw as Hashem's Will - I was a loser and a dead-man. Apparently, it couldn't be because of faith, "the Torah told me so", or to get a reward (even self-fulfillment). It just had to be to save my life. Totally selfish, "enlightened self-interest".

Perhaps that was how we accepted the Torah. We saw He was really, really, Everything, and said to ourselves: Hey - we will do whatever you say!! No questions asked. We want to be with You!!

Make any sense? That was and is my journey. And I owe it all to lust and schmutz, apparently the agent chosen by Hashem (with some help from me) to get me close to Him.

The Science of Habit Change
Part 13/14
By the.guard

Click here to listen and/or download this article as a professionally recorded AUDIO BOOK (45 minutes).

Changing the Routine

When feeling weak, we need to experiment with various alternate routines to discover what the triggers are and what the particular rewards are that the brain is seeking through acting out. Over time, we can retrain ourselves to rely on new activities and coping methods rather than the old destructive, addictive ones. As soon as the craving hits, we will redirect our focus to a new routine.

For starters, we can try some easy routine replacements and see if those help. For example, try taking a snack instead of acting out. Perhaps the trigger was caused by hunger, or perhaps the body craves a rush, which sugar or a coffee can provide. Another time you feel weak, try taking a nap instead of acting out. Perhaps the trigger was caused by tiredness or stress and your brain just craves a shut-down and reboot.

Another great routine that can often replace the acting-out is a session of physical activity. The pornography habit of watching, masturbating, and reaching orgasm is physical, so a replacement should be a short physical exercise. When feeling triggered, we can train ourselves to put off the acting-out until we first go for a 30 minute walk, or even just a ten minute run. Look also into Yoga, Pilates, running, weightlifting, or martial arts. The adrenaline boost of exercise has been shown to be a great replacement for the chemical rush that our brains have come to crave through the lustful behaviors. Although intense exercise may not feel good to those unaccustomed to it, according to a recent study, it does have at least one great perk: the runner’s high, which is a feeling of relaxed euphoria, which sets in at the end of long bouts of activity. The study shows that exercise causes the body to produce a particular neurotransmitter that makes the body relaxed—the same one trigged by smoking marijuana or other addictive behaviors.

If the trigger is boredom, we can try to create new, healthy internet habits that will enhance our lives, such as researching a favorite subject or learning how to make something we are interested in. We can also try to reconnect with old interests. It’s likely that we have been consumed by our pornography habit to the exclusion of many, if not all, previously enjoyable activities. Try to re-establish activity in things we used to love, whether it’s a sports, reading, learning, whatever used to spark our interest and passion. As we re-establish this connection, we will also tap back into liking ourselves, a sense of accomplishment, and healthy self-worth.

To be continued...
Do you think you may have a porn addiction?

Do you have a problem with obsessive and compulsive porn use? Have you seriously tried the tools on GYE and feel that you are not getting better? Maybe it’s time to consider joining a 12-Step program.

Porn Anonymous (PA)
If you’re compulsively acting-out with pornography and masturbation we suggest you explore joining Porn Anonymous (PA). If you need help deciding whether to join PA, call Michael at 347-699-2368, or email help@pornanonymous.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit pornanonymous.org (Hebrew: p-a.org.il / Yiddish: pa-yid.org).

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)
If your compulsive acting-out has progressed beyond the screen (with other people, paid sexual services, etc.) we suggest you explore joining Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). To figure out if SA is for you, call Dov at 917-414-8205, or email Dov at dov@guardyoureyes.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit www.sa.org.

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