Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Hashem Sees Our Hearts & Efforts

Is it wrong to feel religious guilt about my falls?

by Dov (See all authors)

Question:

I have tried many times and I don't believe it is possible for me to fully stop masturbation until I am married. My therapist agrees, and he also said that I should not feel religious guilt about it, as this just makes it worse.


Response:

Dear Jew,

As far as guilt is concerned, it is important to differentiate between shame and guilt. Shame is bad for us, but guilt is healthy. Shame tells us "I am a mistake". Guilt tells us "I made a mistake". See this article by Rabbi Twerski. Guilt is a gift of Hashem to help us grow. If we felt no guilt, we would never try as hard as we can to succeed.

One of the founders of SA - Harvey (who is not even religious), says that the way to stay sober is a simple two steps: (1) Don't act-out even if your [backside] falls off, (2) Make a call to a fellow member and talk it out... Even non-religious addicts who don't have the religious guilt - and who have become so accustomed to acting-out that they feel it is their very "air" to breath, even such people are able to come around and stop cold turkey. Yes, it is possible for anyone. Even the biggest addicts have recovered through the 12-Step program. Have you tried our 12-Step phone conferences? And if you have and it hasn't worked for you, have you tried live 12-Step groups?

We need to give it our best shot. Only Hashem can know if we are trying our best. At what stage can a person say, "I have tried hard enough and now I can't anymore so I will go and actively act-out?" How can we know when we have reached our level of trying? What would happen to you if you simply didn't act-out, even when you felt you MUST? What gives us the right to use the hands that G-d gave us, to actively spill our seed against His will? If you would decide that even if your hands fall off you won't do it, would you die? No! On the contrary, let me tell you a secret: You'd suddenly feel FREE of the obsession. That's right. When we are willing to go all the way with messiras nefesh, Hashem takes away the struggle from us. It's only as long as we continue doubting whether we can or can't hold out, that we continue to struggle and fall. If we use the TaPHSiC method on our site, we can make the repercussions of acting-out much more real to ourselves. Then when we want to act-out and think of the consequences, we'll suddenly discover that maybe we don't have to after all!

The main part of our job is to avoid triggers and guard our eyes and thoughts as much as we can... And then we will see that we can stay clean for ever longer periods of time... It may take time, but if you start cutting down more and more, and learn to avoid triggers and triggering places, you will be able to stop completely. Chazal say that the more we starve it, the more it feels satiated. Even if there are falls along the way, ultimately the goal must be to stop. And you can achieve that before marriage if you try hard enough. Over time, you will slowly learn to truly "give up the right to lust" in your heart.

Every little bit we do adds up. Hashem looks at our efforts, not the results. He sees into our hearts, and if someone is truly trying and truly wants to stop then "Mesayin lo" - he will get the divine help he needs to achieve what he once thought was impossible.