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Posted by on Feb 11, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Can Struggling with Porn Just Be My “Lot in Life?”

Hey, it’s Craig. This week, I’m talking about a couple of “frequently asked questions” I often receive: “Is watching porn just my lot in life? Am I always going to struggle? Am I always going to be addicted?”

I get it. If you’re struggling with porn today, it’s very defeating. The Bible says that sin clouds our vision from seeing Christ clearly. You feel shame and guilt and – like our “first parents” in the garden – it makes you want to hide. You don’t want to get caught, and you’re walking around with fig leaves trying to cover up your embarrassment. Rather than seeking the Lord for new clothes, you resort to thinking, “I’m always going to be like this.”

You haven’t dealt with the pain that’s exists beneath the problem. So if you’re asking me, “Hey, am I always gonna struggle…?”

Yeah, you’re going to struggle unless you make some changes in your life. And today’s the day to make them.

It might not look like you can get unstuck, but 80% is just your mindset. Like, “You know what? I’m not going to look at porn again. I’m not going to keep having sex with my girlfriend. I’m not going to keep doing whatever I know is dragging me down.”

Don’t use your circumstances as an excuse. Don’t say, “I’m always going to look at porn. I’m always going to end up doing the wrong thing.”

No. We can practice self-control. We can be disciplined. We can create new habits in life. We can involve ourselves in communities that support us.

I’m tired of grown-ass men with no friends. And porn will do that to you. 

You haven’t let anybody in because you’re embarrassed. You’re ashamed. You need a friend – whether that’s finding a community at your church or joining AA or signing up for our Small Groups Online…

You need a friend.

A friend won’t say to you, “Oh yeah, it just sucks to be you, man. You’re always going to be broke. You’re always going to be poor. You’re always going to be fat. You’re always going to be an addict.”

No. Friends will encourage you and understand you.

Start looking people in the eyes. Start asking your friends to come alongside you in your times of need. There is no shame in that. 

Stop telling yourself it’s your lot in life. Start believing that there’s actually something better waiting for you around the corner. I promise you: there is.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • There’s a better life for you than the one you’re living.
  • Do you think Tom Brady walks around thinking, “I’m always going to lose” just because he’s lost some games? 80% is your mindset.
  • Instead of a defeated mentality, every time whatever you’re dealing with happens, ask yourself, “What do I need to do to change?”
  • We can practice self-control. We can be disciplined. We can create new habits in our life. We can get involved in communities that support us.
  • I’m tired of grown-ass men with no friends. Porn will do that to you.
  • When you find community that understands you – and gets you and encourages you – they will tell you to stop asking if porn is just always going to be your lot in life.
  • It’s worth it to find a friend.
  • Get out of your house – away from the screen, away from the phone – and go get around people who are going to bring life to you. They’re going to speak truth to you, and they’re going to be there in the good and the bad. Get some accountability.

 

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Posted by on Feb 4, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Can I Change?

Hey, Craig here. You might have come to xxxchurch because you’re feel frustrated with yourself, you’re feeling sad and defeated because you haven’t been able to beat your porn or sex addiction. Maybe you feel like you’ll never be able to stop.

In today’s Whiteboard Session, Steven Luff, a licensed MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) in the state of CA, co-author of Pure Eyes: a Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity and creator of the X3Pure on-line recovery program, answers the question, “Can I change?”

And really the question isn’t can I change but instead am I willing to change? Change takes work. You can’t think that you’re going to be in the same environment doing the exact same things and your life is going to be different.

Our brains are wired so that when we get hurt by something our brain tells us to stay away from that thing. We become conditioned to respond in a certain way when we encounter grief or pain or loss. It can be really hard to make a new pathway in the brain.

But it is possible.

What are you willing to do to change your life? What are you willing to do to rewire the circuitry in your brain? Some you inherited and some you co-created because you started to turn to porn, sex, masturbation, those sorts of things to manage your fear, grief loss, or the fact that you  can’t seek things that you really want to seek in your life.

If we continue to respond to our environment the same way we’ve always been responding to our environment, those pathways that have wired a certain way because of fear or loss or grief, they’re just going to keep firing that way.

In the video, Steven had this great metaphor of your brain as a river: 

Your brain is going to find the easiest path and it’s going to be very, very hard to divert a river into a different path. It can happen, it can be done, but it’s going to take time. And then the river is going to have to be a trickle and then stream and then bigger and bigger until our brain creates a new pathway.

The river doesn’t want to change the channel that it’s going down because it’s got a lot of energy and a lot of motion going in one way. If you try to divert it, it’s going to fight whatever it is that’s diverting it. It’s going to resist because they liked going the path of least resistance. But eventually it’s going to find new new ground and it’s going to run a new territory.

It is possible to change. It is possible to rewire your brain. But it’s going to take a lot of work.

Don’t miss the 6 things Steven lists at the end of the video to start the process of rewiring your brain!

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • You cannot heal in the same emotional environment that made you sick.
  • Change takes work. You can’t think that you’re going to be in the same environment doing the exact same things and your life is going to be different. You have to change the entire way in which you’re functioning.
  • So when I say, can I change? This is complicated. It took millions of years of evolution, depending on your theology, for us to end up a human being. And we didn’t pick our parents, we didn’t pick where we were born. We didn’t pick whether or not our childhood experiences a overly sensitized our fear circuit or our grief or loss circuit.
  • Our mind is made up of cells. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. And what fires together wires together.
  • Dopamine is a primary neuro-chemical that makes us feel good, but it makes us feel good so that we continue to do things that feel good and the things that will keep us safe and help us procreate. So the brain wires in a way to help us survive.
  • Start paying attention to your environment. You might start thinking, “Oh wow. The way I relate to my spouse is the same way I related to my mom and I don’t want to relate that way. I would like to start to relate different and I’m going to communicate with my spouse about these things and to start to make different choices about how I manage my emotions.”
  • Change is not easy and it’s not perfect. Change is sloppy. There’s loss in change, there’s confusion in change. But the more you fall apart, the more you’re falling together.
  • You can’t do this alone because compulsive masturbation and porn is a way of fixing your problems without having to take the risk of relationship.
  •  We are neurologically designed to be in relationship, which means that if relationship was troubled or broken in our childhood, the way to fix the way the brain was wired is to start to have new relationships that are adaptive, that are unconditionally loving and supportive like support groups.
  • Another way to change is abstinence. Um, if you want to change, man, you got to stop whatever it is your compulsive behavior is. Sorry.
  • If you don’t get healthy opinions, you’re going to remain lost and confused about what direction to head.
  •  If you can get disciplined about exercise, you can get disciplined about going to therapy. Make a commitment, make a plan.


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Posted by on Jan 28, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

How Do I Get Over the Pain & Resentment Caused by Divorce?

Hey, it’s Craig (obviously). This week, we’re talking about divorce. A glaring, recurring question often asked of us is, “Just how do I get through the pain and the trauma of my divorce or the resentment caused from the divorce?” How do I move on from that?

Personally, I can’t put myself in your shoes on this one, but I’ve had a lot of close friends who have experienced divorce and the heartache it brings – not just for them and their spouses, but for their kids, their families, and their friends.

I’ve seen the ups and downs. I’ve also seen plenty of people who seem to expect them to just “get over it” and move on. 

From divorce flows deep pain… and perhaps especially within the church. Within many a congregation, divorcees may as well have been stricken with the plague. You don’t fit in because you’re not married… but you’re not exactly single, either.

I wanted you to hear from my friend Dave because I watched him go through a divorce. I’ve seen him on his best days and I’ve seen him on his worst days.

I know that it’s a process. I know this stuff takes time. But if you never take the time to figure out where and why you are experiencing resentment, you’ll never be able to heal from it. 

(And stay tuned – next month, we’re going to build upon all that we’ve been discussing as we tackle how you can work toward healing from the wounds of resentment, and break free from the addiction that it often fuels.)

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • There’s a lot of pain — deep pain — that flows from divorce… and perhaps especially within the church. Within many a congregation, divorcees may as well have been stricken with the plague.
  • I know that it’s a process and I think this stuff takes time. But if you never take the time to figure out where you have resentment, you’ll never be able to heal from it.
  • Resentment is at the core of whatever pain people are trying to escape from. If we can deal with unforgiveness, we can experience breakthrough in many areas of our lives.
  • Are we going to hold onto resentment and allow it to eat us up… or can we forgive?
  • You have to be honest about what’s real inside of you. We all have to start there. Otherwise, we’ll keep holding onto (or suppressing) our pain, and others will not understand why we’re so angry, or why we react the way that we react (and likely, neither will we).
  • It’s important for me to spend the time that needs to be spent. Do the journaling. Go to therapy. Connect the dots… and choose to forgive.
  • Sometimes, I need to forgive myself. I recognize I’m angry at or disappointed in myself. All right, well I can sit in that and feel like crap, or I can actually just forgive myself and move forward.
  • Awareness is a powerful and freeing thing. How are you thinking? How are you feeling toward others? That’s 80% of the healing process, right there.

 

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Why Do I Look At Porn When Times Get Tough?

This month we’re talking about resentment and here’s another question that comes up: “Why do I look at porn when times get tough?”

Let’s say something bad happens to you: you get fired, you have a fight with your wife, the list goes on and on.

For lots of people, emotional or physical pain is a trigger. It doesn’t cause you to look at porn but it’s a trigger. It’s like when your stomach growls or you rub your eyes; your body wants something and it gives you a desire for something, whether that’s food or sleep or porn.

To figure out why you can’t break the habit of looking at porn when you’re in pain, you have to find the root cause. You’re going to have to dig deep.

You need to learn what your triggers are because hard times come to us all and we need to know how to deal with them in a healthy way.

Today I wanted to introduce you to my friend Brandon. In this video, Brandon shares how he has learned to not only deal with the pain in his life but how to get to the root and help others, too.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • You have to learn how you’re going to respond in those tough times because those times are going to hit you.
  • What we don’t want to do is keep excusing your behavior  but help you actually get to the root and deal with it.
  • At some point you either have to face the pain or you’ll be crushed by the weight of it. God’s grace and mercy in my own life as a has has been something I can’t even put to words because it’s allowed me to say I’m not alone.
  • I know I can go to Jesus and he says, “I know you, I created you. I love you. I’ve shaped you. I’ll hold your hand through this. I’ll walk through it with you.”
  • Not only will he cut his hands off for me rather than using them to hurt me, but he hung them on a cross to save me. And when I think about that, when I meditate on that, when I look at that, I think there’s nothing that I can’t face and deal with whether it’s been done to me or whether I’ve done it to someone else.
  • When we enter into the process of healing, whether it’s through a therapist or through a pastoral counseling or through friendships, you can only deal with what you can deal with. You can only deal with so much pain at a time at a certain time, so it’s like a layer of an onion.
  • I think that this is where Christian community becomes so important. The question of what next? What do we do?
  • We don’t do a good job of really walking with people through life. We do a good job of saying, “I want to be there with you. I want to care for you. I’ll pray for you.” But really what does it mean to walk in the trenches with someone?
  • I think you have to come to the realization that you are going to solve it or die trying. You’re going to address it or die trying. You’re gonna go find help or you’re going to die trying. There’s no way around it.
  • Joseph says that when he was thrown into slavery, he tells his brothers, “that which you intended for evil, God intended for good.” I think that’s what’s been true in my life.


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Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

My Wife Is So Angry About My Porn Use, What Can I Do?

Hey guys, Craig again. This month we’re talking about resentment, so – speaking of – here’s a question I often receive: “My wife is so angry about my porn use, what can I do?”

If you’re reading that question and coming to the realization that, “Oh no! That’s me…!” – you’re in the right place.

And – if you’re the angry wife (justifiably so) – fed up with your husband’s porn use, you’re also in the right place.

The first thing to understand is this: a husband and wife are going to look at the husband’s porn use in totally different ways. For guys, it might be a one-off fantasy. But for your wife…? To her, it feels like you’ve entered into a relationship with someone else.

There’s a total disconnect between you two. Husbands, you have to put yourself in her shoes. Start there. That’s the number one thing.

When we choose not to listen to one another – when we allow resentment to detract from our ability to sympathize with and meet one another where we’re both at – we inevitably construct a wall that keeps us from connection and intimacy. She’s mad that he’s still looking at porn. He’s mad that she doesn’t want to have sex.

Up and up it goes, each new offense another layer of cinderblock atop a wall growing too high to climb. That’s where marriages end. It’s where relationships fall apart. Your wall has become insurmountable, and your friendship has devolved into a chasm.

This week, I want to introduce you to Carl and Katie Thomas. Maybe their story is a lot like your story. If you find yourself doubting that, someday, you and your spouse could be healed from porn and resentment, you need to watch this video. 

In this week’s podcast, Carl and Katie talk about how porn impacted their marriage… but they also talk about what created the porn problem in the first place. Resentment was not only a root cause of tension in their marriage, but also a root cause of Carl’s porn use. When Katie was able to understand and empathize with Carl (and vice verse), both of them were able to work together toward overcoming pornography, and the cycle of resentment it caused in their relationship.

 

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • You’re a grown adult, and you taking responsibility for yourself shows that you’re interested in change. You’re interested in working through and past the problem.
  • Husbands, you’ve got to put yourself in your wife’s shoes before you expect her to put herself in yours.
  • Resentment is like a wall in your relationship.
  • Relationships end when the walls you’ve been building between you become insurmountable.

 

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO

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Posted by on Jan 7, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

How to Identify and Move Past Resentment

Hey guys, Craig here. Happy New Year!

This January, we’re going to be talking about a project that we’ve been working on called: Resentment. One night, a few months back, it hit me that so many people are afraid to get help and pursue healing because they can’t stop looking back at their past.

So, I decided that I wanted to talk about it.

The root of your pain is not your porn addiction. It’s not your failed marriage. There’s something underneath all of that.

It might be trauma.

It might be pain.

It might be something that you did, or it might be something that was done to you.

No matter what it was, you’re experiencing resentment because you can’t or won’t let go.

So, we started Resentment.org to help one another discover the root – to figure out the why – and how to dig it up.

In today’s Whiteboard Session, Steven Luff, a licensed MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) in the state of CA, co-author of Pure Eyes: a Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity and creator of the X3Pure on-line recovery program, talks about how to identify and move past resentment.

So much of the resentment that we experience grows out of disappointment caused by unmet expectations.

We have our eyes on some imaginary promised land, or a fantasy about something that we were supposed to have but didn’t get. As we hang on to that fantasy, rather than accepting our reality and recognizing that we have the freedom to change – to make our own decisions and live our own lives – our bitterness grows and compounds upon itself.

The brain can heal. It’s pliable. But to heal requires an acceptance of the things that happened. So much of recovery is about growing up.

People don’t want to look back. It’s understandable. Once you start looking back, you feel like your whole world is falling apart. The trick is to be in a community of people who can support you through the fall.

There’s a saying in recovery communities:

“When you’re falling apart, you’re actually falling together.”

Once you are able to recognize that you have this feeling called resentment, it’s useful to go to a therapist or someone in the community who can help you unpack your emotions. There’s no shame in asking for help. “I feel this way. Is it realistic that I feel this way? What do I want out of life?”

If you want to get over any challenge you have in your life – especially resentment – it requires your willingness to get up, get out of your chair and find a community of people who can speak into your life in ways that are realistic, honest and loving at the same time.

Those people exist, and they’re ready to meet you.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • Resentment is a product of me thinking that life is supposed to be something that it isn’t, rather than accepting it as it is and recognizing that I have the freedom to make my own decisions and live my own life.
  • Resentment is a product of not accepting the fact that other people in this world can make whatever decisions they want to make.
  • Once I was able to understand that I could make – and began to make – my own decisions, I found that I actually have a lot more freedom on this planet than I thought.
  • Integrity is the antonym – the opposite – of resentment.
  • Christ as the best model for integrity. He was tempted by the devil. He went through his trials and tribulations, but he knew what he was called to do.
  • Recovery is about growing up: looking at the past, looking at where you came from, accepting that some things didn’t go the way you wanted them to go. It also doesn’t mean that life ends there.
  • God is in new, loving relationships (and not the opposite).
  • When you’re falling apart, you’re actually falling together.
  • Sometimes you just have to sit with it as it is and say, “that sucked.”
  • Real, honest and loving communities of people are out there, waiting for you.

 

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