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In my work as a sex and porn addiction counselor, I remain in contact with my clients after the more intensive aspects of their program are finished. As these men move on to a more self-guided recovery mindset, they still encounter struggles or moments of choice.
In these moments, they sometimes write to me to describe what's going through their minds. They might be feeling the pull of their addiction rather strongly one day, or perhaps they feel triggered unexpectedly. In these moments, they have a choice on how to behave. One of the choices they can make is to stop and write through their thought process, which they often do. Whenever I get these emails, outlining moments of struggle or inner conflict, I always respond with one word: “win!”
By this point in their recovery process, they've learned a lot of the coping skills necessary to face down their addiction. They can choose to have a dialog with their inner addict, they can exercise the practice of “first thought wrong,” they can reflect on HALT (hurt, angry, lonely, tired – the most common reasons for feeling triggered), or they can look at the triggering situation through writing.
My job at this point is to support these men through whatever recovery methods they find works best for them. So my response at this point is not always a step-by-step guide on what to do in the moment. It's simply to empower them – to remind them that they always have the power to win these occasional showdowns with their addiction. I tell them to win, because I know they can.
When you are in the grip of a powerful addiction, you are spending a lot of time in pain, in shame, and in self-doubt. These emotions are necessary for your addiction to keep you right where you are. Getting out of that situation is going to be a fight, and my job is to be in your corner the whole time.
For many men, it helps to visualize a real fight happening. Your real self vs. your addict self. The two of you squaring off, and fighting for control. Whenever you're feeling triggered or tempted to fall back into old habits, that's your addict landing a punch. That can be rough, but remember that you're in a boxing ring. You're allowed to hit back!
Whenever you take a stand and make the right decisions, whenever you strive to better yourself, whenever you use the practices you've learned, that's you fighting for your life.
See, when you change, your life changes too. This is why the stakes are so high. Men who have turned away from their addictions begin to experience things like deeper relationships with their partners, better focus and success in their careers, better physical and mental health, and more peace in their lives. Your addict is fighting to take all those things away. This is why it's so important that you win.
Take the chance, and begin feeling better. You too can win.
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