There’s a story that I’ve heard in multiple therapy sessions and groups where a Native American grandfather is talking to his grandson. He tells him of two wolves that exist within each of us, a white one and a black one. The white one is the good desires we have and the black one is the negative and selfish desires we have. They are battling, he said inside of each one of us. Naturally the boy wishes to know the outcome and asks the sage, “which one wins grandfather?”
I’m not sure why I never connected the moral of this story to what I just learned this week about how to increase my good and wholesome desires, including my desire for healing and recovery. I have been learning over the past month just how important desires are and how they are at the beginning of everything we do. “If that’s the case,” I thought, “how do we get ‘em?!”
With that clear question in my head and a desire to know the answer I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I rad across the answer to my question in a book entitled Drawing on the Powers of Heaven by Grant Von Harrison. He said that our desires come as a direct result of our thoughts and attitudes.
“Wow! Really?” I was amazed. I knew that I could choose to think about good things, it has been happening quite naturally each morning for the last 2 weeks as I’ve woken up, thought of 10 or more things I’m grateful for and then dove into my scriptures with the goal of finding what my God wishes me to know about Honesty.
Something clicked when I read that. I saw that the things I have been counseled to do for years are actually powerful tools I already possess to mold and shape my desires. I am glad to now understand the moral to the native american tale. I now ”get” the grandfather’s reply to the boy’s curious question, ”which wolf wins?”
Sexual dreams are one thing that I can say isn’t new. In the past I’ve felt bad about having them, like I’m some type of pervert or bad person for having them. I think I felt that way before because I was still not consciously convinced that I could get out of my pornography addiction. They reminded me of my addiction and so I was scared. When those dreams would come into the scene of my mind I’d often wake up aroused and self-stimulate.
I have since come to a very different opinion of dreams. After looking a little into what dreams are I’ve felt some comfort in the thoughts of some dream researchers. Some believe that dreams are ways for our subconscious minds to work out answers to problems that we have during the day.
One researcher had worked with a girl that had been raped and was continually having nightmares about being overpowered by some man. She was told to enter her dreams and face her attacker. When she did her bad dreams stopped. Facing her fears brought about resolution.
Dreams have meant quite a bit to me over the years. I have spent time thinking about the things that happen in my dreams and felt some pretty powerful meanings arise. In one dream I stood in front of a classroom for some sort of show and tell. I had a little red pig that my girlfriend at the time had given to me. As I stood up there I felt embarrassed in front of the classroom, so I make fun of the pig. Everyone laughed, but I saw at the back of the room my girlfriend run away crying. I was unaware that she had been there, but at that moment I knew that I had something in my life that was important that I wasn’t treasuring as I should. Upon thinking about that meaning I was able to clearly identify something in my waking life that I needed to take more seriously.
I am grateful for my dreams and even thought I don’t fully understand them I am glad I have them.
After I woke up this morning I turned on a podcast by Candeo’s Mark Kastleman about Dealing with Erotic Dreams. One thing that I like about what he said was that we can approach waking from our dreams in the same way that we approach any other stimulus or trigger, with facing it, replacing it and connecting. We can do some gratitude breathing if we feel aroused and then give the dream the meaning that we want, replacing old beliefs that keep us trapped as prisoners to those dreams.
He suggested that if it’s too powerful we put in an inspiring movie or some powerful music to help us vividly connect with our motives and goals. And if by chance we wake up in the middle of the night and feel like there’s no way to connect he suggested journaling as a powerful way to connect with other. We could even write a letter to a friend or plan out some service we’re gonna do 1st thing when we wake up.
Breaking from the topic of dreams, I felt like I haven’t been as diligent the last couple of days in my recovery. I haven’t spent time learning or practicing that much. I’m not going to beat myself up for it, so I want to remember some of the great things that I’ve chosen to do. I have been with my girlfriend each day after work and have shared some sweet moments with her and her daughter. Last night we built a fort in their front room and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire in their fireplace. Good times!
I choose to avoid being complacent and am recommitting to being vigilant in my recovery and I’m excited to learn and grow each day.
In the sexual addiction recovery program I’ve been going through, I’ve been pleased to engage in a little exercise that’s allowed me to get in between any stimulus and my automatic response to it. Essentially it helps me see that I have a choice in every situation. Because I can see myself talking about it often in my Freedom Journal I wanted to make special mention of it and give a little background on what it entails.
First, I notice temptations or triggers. This takes some practice. Second, I stop what I’m doing, get up (or sit down as the case may be) and begin deep breathing (about 6 seconds in and 6 seconds out). With each breathe out I share with my Father in Heaven something I am grateful for. I do this 5 times. Third, I talk to the temptation and re-frame the situation to reflect the truth and my goals instead of the deceptions I’ve ingrained in my mind through repetitiously following my impulses. Forth, I envision my goals and good things and bring into my awareness the feeling of success. I enjoy it and bask in it for a while. Lastly, I reach out and connect to another by doing something nice for them, a smile, a compliment, a nice text message or call just to say I was thinking of them.
Take a list of common temptations that lead you to indulge in your undesired sexual behavior. Each day spend some time morning and night practicing this little technique with each of those situations so that when you actually DO face them you’ll have given your brain a way to face and address them rather than giving in. There’s only one big difference between real life facing and replacing and your practice sessions and that is you’re going to have to imagine the temptation in your mind. When you begin to feel the strength of it, that’s when you begin breathing. At first it may seem like you’re inviting temptation, but keep practicing and you’ll break the associations you’ve formed over time.
This has been just one of the powerful techniques in a broader program of healing. It’s helpful to understand this tool in context. To check out my reviews of the program click on one of the following links. From each page you’ll be given a link that will give you access to free educational audio programs about recovery and the brain science behind porn addiction as well as masturbation and other sexual addictions.
Note: The Face it. Replace it. Connect. method is not my own. I learned it from the Candeo Pornography Addiction Recovery Program and made some of my own adjustments. To me, this process has become somewhat of a prayer to me. It has become my expression of faith, or rather the action I have chosen to do to follow my Savior to become pure as he is pure.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what’s most important in life and why. It seems to me that knowing this would add meaning & power to my healing & recovery from pornography addiction. Again and again in small and simple, yet profound ways the answer has come to me: People matter most. How I interact with others determines the quality of my life.
There is a great teaching in many religions that can be summarized by the simple words of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Ghandi said it this way, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” These sayings invite us to look inward and to focus on changing our own behavior. How wise indeed, for no man can change the habits of another unless he inspires action through the power of his own right conduct. We can only change ourselves.
Treating others with kindness because it’s how we’d like to be treated is a great reason to live a life of service. Looking deeper we can find that the reason these teachings exist is because our very understanding of life’s deepest truths can only be fully understood as we give ourselves to the aid of others.
Last week as I got ready for my day I had the strong impression that “we need each other.” The thought came seemingly out of the blue although it was preceeded by a smile and quick memory about my girlfriend. The thought however of us all needing each other sunk in deep during the moments that followed.
I recalled times where I had felt like I wanted escape being around others or that I could understand life without the help of others. I even felt that I could overcome my pornography addiction without the others, just me and God, that’s all I needed. Ironically, I often came to those feelings while reading books…written by, yup, others. I also would feel this superman-like determination after a relapse and because I was embarrassed to tell anyone of what I had done.
The power of connecting emotionally with others allows love flow freely as we give our energies; our time, our thoughts and prayers, our skills and passions, our laughter and our true understanding gained through lives experiences – to those around us. Indeed, it is ONLY through these, often difficult efforts, that any lasting connection can be made. Victor Brown said in his powerful book Human Intimacy: Illusion & Reality, “marriage (and for that matter, all relationships) is not for emotional weaklings.”
It’s so easy to overlook the debt which we owe to our fellow man…for just about EVERYTHING. I love to play the guitar. However, my enjoyment of this hobby would have been severely limited without the efforts of the thousands who came before me; those who studied acoustics, those that build prototypes who failed and tried again, those that diligently observed and documented the relationships between notes, those who sored to great musical heights and inspire greatness and those who took incentive to finance and manufacture the creation of affordable guitars. My enjoyment has been developed over centuries and I am the beneficiary. I owe those people a debt of gratitude.
When we truly see and feel the connection we have to others – that they are part of us, our brothers and sisters – we can open up and fully give of ourselves to them and in so doing know that all we give will be returned to us. In fact, we cannot fully receive that which we do not also give. Kindness is repaid with kindness. The healing of forgiveness is obtained when we afford it to others. We help others and in doing so we only help ourselves. This was beautifully illustrated in The Celestine Prophecy, a novel by James Redfield made motion picture in 2006 (watch through about 4:15)
Perhaps this is why the final step in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program is to give back and to share your story with others. We share our experiences to learn of ourselves. We gain freedom and hope as we share freedom and hope with others. Because love is such a powerful key to avoiding the pitfalls of pornography addiction it’s essential to learn to give love and to serve.
Shedding light on the truths of pornography use, instilling hope in those that are caught in the darkness of addiction, inspiring action and providing tips & tools to help facilitate the success that will come to all those who wish it.