Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Addiction is not shameful.
It’s actually pretty commonplace. Addictions come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. In fact, many great men have succumbed to addiction. A lot of these men were able to break free from their addictions and live long, productive lives.
They acknowledged their weaknesses. They utilized their strengths. They took definitive action—and ultimately, overcame their addictions.
I shared, in Part One, that I once suffered from addiction. I learned a lot of things about myself in that process.
The truth is, I didn’t like what I saw. It was ugly, dark. I carried it around like a weight. Even after I had come out the other side—the lingering side effects hung over me for years.
I kept it buried inside. I never talked about it. I acted like everything was fine, and yet, everything was far from fine. The truth is, I just wasn’t at a place in my life where I was ready to share my experiences, much less offer any kind of real hope for someone else battling addiction.
I was angry. I was bitter, fearful. I held deep regrets.
I venture to say much of this sounds familiar. Ultimately, I was able to push through that dark time in my life and put some distance between myself and the addiction. My thinking became clearer. I talked with a specialist at one point; that certainly helped.
I was also able to develop several strategies that helped along the way. And that’s what this is about—taking my experiences, and the strategies derived from those experiences, and share them with you. You may find them as helpful as I did as you battle your own addiction.
It starts with conceptualization.
The process of conceptualization is where you imagine an intended result by forming an image in your mind of that result. In this case, you’re focusing on breaking an addiction to pornography.
It may begin as more of a rough draft at first. You can fill in the details as you move along, but you should be as detailed as you can be from the onset.
If you don’t have a good idea in mind of what you want to achieve, then how can you go about achieving it? You don’t know what it is. It’s like running a race with no destination. You’ll never get to the end because you have no idea where you’re going.
That’s how conceptualization works. This is also a great time to ask God to reveal to you precisely what it is that the image looks like. Allow Him to help you conceptualize the intended result. Otherwise, it may be hard to do so on your own.
When I was in my addiction, I had images in my mind all the time—but they were mostly of me finding the next high. My whole life revolved around the addiction. There wasn’t a single decision I made that I did not have my addiction in mind. You can imagine all the time wasted living like that.
Conceptualization is a powerful force but only when it’s coupled with intense desire to change and habitual, daily affirmations (think about the "Law of Attraction," for instance).
Be specific. The life you envision is free from pornography, free from those long nights staring into the computer screen, wasted money and time, and the ruined relationships left in your wake. It may involve a loving spouse or children who are proud of you. You should see it as clear as a polaroid image, but the details will be unique to you.
Ask God for guidance.
I can tell you, once I started to conceptualize a better life for myself, I already felt a lot better, but conceptualization without action is an exercise in frivolity. We must affirm these images daily--and start forming new, healthier habits.
Daily affirmation is the process where you make a "positive" statement about a particular belief; this positive statement solidifies what you believe—in this case, an image of your life free from pornography.
Take five or ten minutes out of your morning to focus on your new goals. Think about what your life will look like. For me, it's getting easier.
I'm wearing flip-flops, and I'm staring off my patio at the ocean in my backyard while sipping coffee (with way too much cream and sugar). A laptop is opened on the table beside me. The screen is glowing. A trade paperback is next to it and a bookmarker is haphazardly jutting out.
How beautiful is that? Of course, your image will be quite different than mine. What makes me happy will be totally unlike whatever makes you happy.
But one of your goals will be to break your addiction (to pornography). Affirm that you will not go online and look for pornographic images that day.
The key is to start small and continue to affirm and reaffirm throughout the day.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
So, it starts with conceptualization, but your daily affirmations will help create new, healthier habits while reinforcing a more positive mental state.
You may want to buy a journal. Write down some of the things you thought about in your morning ritual. Revisit these ideas consistently. Affirmation is a critical aspect of self-treatment.
Also, remember to have humility; and that’s the third component of this.
Even when I was steeped in addiction, I had a number of things to be grateful for—primarily my family who always stuck by me no matter how stupidly I acted sometimes.
This requires continued self-reflection. You most likely have a number of things in your life to be thankful for already. If you’re reading this, for example, you’re alive and well. You’ve made it this far in life—and you have that to be thankful for.
As we go about conceptualizing our goals, affirming them each day, and making progress, it’s easy to get overconfident and set ourselves up for failure. Before we know it, we’ve settled back into our addiction--or a new addiction takes hold out of the vacuum left by the prior one.
That's why I say do your daily affirmations and stay grounded!
Being grateful to God and what you already have will keep you grounded on your path to recovery. It’s easy to get distracted—and make mistakes along the way—especially when you aren’t grateful for what you already have or stay focused on what your goals are.
Staying positive and having humility also builds character. It also creates an energy field around you. The power of positive thoughts cannot be diminished. You will attract other positive thinking people, as well, and it will propel you closer toward your goals.
Another way to stay grounded is to look at the damaging repercussions your actions have on those around you. We may be making significant progress but certain actions cannot be undone.
As we turn from self-reflection, let’s take a look at the impact our addictions have on our spouses in particular. No matter if you’re just getting started on the road to recovery—or if you’re looking back after years of triumph—acknowledging the toll your actions have on your spouse (and other loved ones) is a critical aspect of becoming whole again. Plus, it's just the right thing to do.
To be continued.