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Posted by on Oct 1, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

What Is Behind My Compulsive Behavior?

 

About This Episode

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 a question we get a lot: what’s behind my compulsive behavior and how do I stop it?

Steve uses the whiteboard to share a new and very useful framework in how to approach these two questions about the human condition. He says that when we don’t feel loved and accepted, the human response is usually a roller coaster of anxiety and depression, which can cause us to turn to resources that confirm our worthlessness (porn or lies or viewing your spouse and God as a jailer) or resources that confirm our worth (telling the truth, viewing your spouse and God as a loving friend, and unconditional community).

Ultimately the goal is to be okay with yourself and without the need to turn to substances of abuse to escape this dynamic.

Steve then shows how you can map out your own tools that will confirm your worth, help you manage your emotions, and help break the addiction cycle of compulsion.

Our Favorite Quotes From This Episode

  • We are biologically designed to be in community. We’re biologically designed to be a part of a family. It’s survival.
  • When we feel anxious, it’s because we don’t have control over the given circumstances. But we often become less anxious about life when we can trust that the other person is going to be there for us.
  • If depression is about hopelessness, then we are constantly, as human beings, responsible for our own ability to build a bridge to the future.
  • Anxiety and excitement are very closely tied together. Anxiety isn’t necessarily bad, but when you feel anxious, you have to be mindful of what am I trying to control.
  • If you’re living on the truth side, then you’re not going to turn to porn anyway because you don’t like the consequences of having to tell people the things that you do.
  • The fundamental truth of Christianity is that we are free and that Christ died for our sins and we are free to live our own lives and grow in our own ways.
  • Figure out who the hell you want to be and live that life.
  • Porn is trying to hide from this dynamic of really being alive and being an adult.
  • I would say it is any adult’s responsibility to find unconditional, loving community.
  • Anxiety isn’t necessarily bad. A little bit of anxiety means you’re living your life. It means that you are setting sail for your own individuated life with Jesus with you and you’re going out and you’re becoming your own fricken person.
  • No one’s your jailer. This is your life and whether you recognize it or not, you’re living your own life. So do you want it to be in this addiction cycle or do you want to gain the tools of becoming more individuated?
  • Isolation is you’re just going to stew in your own juices and end up jacking off to porn. Pretty much a guarantee. You need to be connected to people and you need to be talking about things to make sense out of how you’re feeling and what it means.

 

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Posted by on Aug 14, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

2 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Want Your Marriage to Thrive

When a couple gets married, they know a lot about one another. But their relationship winds up being built as much upon their lack of knowledge about one another as it is upon that existing knowledge.

Couples walk into every marriage with a set of assumptions and expectations about their spouse that will inevitably bring the relationship to a fork in the road with several paths to take. How can you know which path is the right one?

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What are you protecting?

If I may speak for husbands a bit (seeing that I am one), the road we most often take is the one where we begin to divide ourselves into pieces. Some pieces we share with our spouse, and some we hold in secret for the sake of avoiding the destruction of a façade we’ve built.

We take this road because in some unconscious way, the fear of what might happen were we to be truly vulnerable feels far worse than a life lived half in the dark, which is akin to death by paper-cuts or some sort of time-release suicide.

The road less taken – the one that makes all of the difference – is what some call “The Way of the Cross.” In my life, I started by asking myself what I was trying to protect or save by holding back the truth about who I am, what I desire, what I struggle with, or what I believe to be beautiful, sexy, powerful, hideous, moving, repulsive, hurtful, or confusing. I realized I was trying to preserve something that actually needed to die.

If my marriage couldn’t survive the truth about me – the whole truth – then I didn’t want it anymore. I realized that time-release suicide wasn’t the life I desired.

2. Is your life worth dying for?

And so, after some careful thought and prayer, one day, I told my wife, “We need to talk.” I planned what I was going to say carefully and prepared myself for destruction. I focused on not letting my ego get in the way to stop the honesty, either by holding back or by trying to steal away my wife’s right to experience whatever she was about to experience. She was going to have questions about my porn use. They wouldn’t be fun to answer. But I was going to answer them. All of them if need be.

I wasn’t even sure if this was the healthiest way to approach it, but at the time, I needed to let it all hit the ground and break. And if we were able to get through the conversation alive, I was ready to face the next day and move forward. It wasn’t my job to decide for my wife whether she was ready to move forward. I knew I would have to wait for her, allow her to hurt, and allow her to face her own demons, just like I was determined to do.

That was six years ago. I now live in a marriage that can best be described as home. There is nothing in the shadows – and it turns out that letting all of my crap hit the floor and shatter into a million pieces – and allowing her to see that – was the beginning of the birthing of something new in my life and in our marriage. It turns out my wife was stronger than I thought she was. And so was I.

Courage to all of those who are ready to die for the sake of living. May your bruises be blessed. Now tell your wife: “We gotta talk.”

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

4 Ways to Deal with Loneliness

Loneliness sucks.

It’s a feeling of isolation that can feel as debilitating as physical illness.

There are many ways loneliness can manifest, and even more reasons why, but let’s talk about romantic loneliness: a lack of that special kind of intimacy that comes from a partner we all crave so deeply.

Most people seek to ease the pain of loneliness by pouring all their energy into finding ‘The One.’ In lieu of this, the intense desire for intimacy can drive some into the arms of porn. No space for loneliness there, right? Porn promises all this and more; you don’t have to give anything back.

But what do you do when you can’t find that special someone? Or when you realize the struggle of loneliness is much more than a gap to be filled by a willing lover? When you realize porn does more harm than good?

The antidote to loneliness is real intimacy. Romance and sex aren’t the only way to experience this.

Here are four ways to experience intimacy and deal with loneliness:

1. Learn to Sit with Loneliness

Humans were created for healthy relationship. Even in the Garden of Eden, where Adam walked with God in perfection, the Lord said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’ Thus Eve was created as the perfect partner and confidant. It is natural to crave closeness and intimacy with other humans, not only God and yourself.

If relationships were vital in paradise, how much more will humans desire the closeness and support of another human in today’s world? In a world of ruptured intimacy, heartache, unmet expectations, and downright cruelty, humans genuinely need the solidarity and connection that began in Eden.

It is natural that we crave closeness with others. It is part of our identity as people made in the image of God. It is a desire placed within us to draw us close to one another and form loving communities and relationships.

Don’t let loneliness become the enemy. It’s okay to acknowledge what you’re feeling and hoping for, to sit with that emotion and honor it for what it is. It is human nature.

2. Cultivate Friendships

Don’t become so obsessed with finding the perfect romantic partner, or with the despair of not having one, that you forget about friends and family. This is a common error of the lonely heart, but only serves to compound your loneliness and push valuable friendships aside.

Take your focus off what you do not have and focus on what you do have. Chances are you have at least one friend who genuinely cares for you, if not more!

These friends are amazing sources of untapped intimacy. Don’t worry, intimacy in friendship doesn’t mean you have to start cuddling up and buying each other roses, it just means investing in each other, being vulnerable, and sharing life. These can be the most satisfying and genuine relationships.

Friends can make you feel truly known and loved. Sharing your struggles, joys, or a few jokes with some good blokes or your closest girlfriends can give a sense of belonging that overshadows a sense of loneliness.

Desiring a romantic relationship and being intentional in dating is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a great thing! Just make sure you’re also cultivating friendships and making time for non-romantic adventures.

This is an antidote to loneliness. Isolation and negativity will only lead you into dark places.

3. Learn to Date Yourself

Okay, if you’re not into corny lines, you don’t have to call it ‘dating yourself.’ This step is just about learning to be at ease in your own company.

Being alone doesn’t have to mean loneliness. Making peace with solitude can really take the edge off your discomfort and open a whole new world of possibility and adventure.

You might feel awkward as you learn to enjoy your own company. That’s perfectly normal, keep at it. Try wandering around a mall on your own, take yourself out to dinner, or even enjoy the freedom of a solo holiday or outdoor adventure. Many people start this journey by simply seeing a movie on their own. These activities can be genuinely relaxing and rejuvenating if done with the right mindset.

Chances are you’re going to experience pervasive thoughts and feelings of awkwardness at first. We’re not used to being on our own, let alone enjoying the experience! It is vital you acknowledge what you’re feeling, but then intentionally rephrase those thoughts in a more positive light. Instead of allowing your mind to play the ‘everyone’s-looking-at-me-pitifully’ soundtrack on repeat, turn it around and celebrate your independence.

Remind yourself of the freedom of choice you’re experiencing, and instead of focusing on what other people may be doing or thinking, set your energy and attention upon what you’re doing in the moment. Be mindful.

There are no limits to the adventures you can have when you learn to be joyful in solitude.

Changing your perception and taking part in some alone time (we’re talking the mindful type, not the naughty kind!) can go a long way in healing your lonely heart.

Again, balance is key. It is important to have a balance of community and comfortable solitude.

4. Restore Intimacy with Jesus

Now you’re a pro at dating yourself, it’s time to date the Lord Jesus himself! Throw on your best robes, brush your hair, and hope J.C. is in the mood to turn some water into wine!

Okay, not really.

Jesus is the ultimate healer of your lonely heart, though.

It can feel impossible to connect with him, being invisible and all. But he is the one near to the broken-hearted. He knew you before the womb, he will know you after the grave, and he lovingly walks by your side each day as you suffer or celebrate. There is no one who is closer or knows you more intimately.

Trust that God in his sovereignty has you exactly where he wants you to be and has your future in his hands. When you feel the familiar rush of loneliness setting in, fight back by being proactive. Look for ways in which you can serve God in your current context. Do your best to listen to his voice and determine where he may have you serve. This is a great way to forget about loneliness and use your unique position for good. Plus, this will more than likely bring you into contact with fellow Christians or some kind of community.

Pursue intimacy with God with your whole heart and chase satisfaction in him. Seek his calling on your life and utilize your season of singleness for good. Let’s be honest: all this may not come easily, but the Bible promises answers to those who seek.

Intentionally seeking a romantic partner is a perfectly honorable endeavor, but ensure you’re also engaging your need for intimacy in the ways mentioned in this article. Without this balance, you may become consumed by your longing, and end up seeking the embrace of pornography or uncommitted lovers.

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Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

8 Practical Tips To Quit Masturbating

Quitting masturbation isn’t easy–even veterans still have challenges in this area. But it is a battle you can win.

Here are some practical ideas that have helped me:

1. Have Healthy Outlets

Masturbators are energetic, creative, and passionate people who have a lot to offer. Find healthy places where you can take that energy and put it to good use.

2. Deal with the Undercurrent

Masturbation is not really about the behavior–it’s about medicating pain and trying to satisfy unmet needs in your life. Take a deep breath and go below the surface to find out WHY you’re masturbating. An X3Group will help. So will a counselor.

3. Start Writing and Keep Writing 

This may sound crazy, but writing in a notebook or journal is a healthy outlet to get your “stuff” out. Write out your anger. Write out your feelings. Use it as a way to talk it out–both to yourself and to God.

4. Get a Strategy for Your Alone Time 

Alone time and boredom can lead to masturbation, simply because you just have nothing else to do, so try to stay busy. Fill up your calendar. Go to bed tired.

5. Get a Media Strategy While You’re At It 

Attack the source. Set up roadblocks. Consider a program like X3watch for your computer. Consider some filtering for your TV or a password. Restrict the sources of temptation.

6. You Need a Buddy 

Find someone you can talk to about your struggles, someone you can trust and who will keep confidence. What I’m talking about here is accountability. This person may have to be a counselor or a minister. Again, an X3Group is a great place to start.

7. Realize It’s a Process 

You didn’t become addicted overnight; you won’t get free overnight, either. Sobriety happens one day at a time, one meeting at a time, one breakthrough at a time. An X3Group will help you stay strong during this process.

8. Pray, Then Pray Some More 

You probably have prayed God would take your masturbation away. A better prayer might be, “God, help me have a change of heart. Help me deal with the deep stuff. Help me find better outlets. Help me find a way to talk my stuff out with someone.”

Got more practical ways to quit masturbating? Leave them in the comments below.

 

 

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Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Her Favorite Oxymoron

Webster’s defines oxymoron as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.”

Here are a few of my favorite:

Freezer burn, pretty ugly, loose tights, soft rock, numb feeling, minor crisis, only choice, growing smaller, random order, jumbo shrimp, and quite possibly the most wickedly ingenious phrase ever devised by evil marketers and foisted upon unsuspecting consumers like us: shop ‘n’ save.

I doubt you’re aware of it, but your wife has a favorite oxymoron. It’s even more intriguing to her subconscious mind than the aforementioned shop ‘n save. I talk to married women across the country and it’s abundantly clear.

The oxymoron that revs their engine most is this one: Alone together. It’s also what your marriage needs more of. Time. Just the two of you.

No kids. No distractions. No laptops. No dishes in the sink. Just the two of you.

Alone. Together.

A friend of mine vacationed in Europe with his wife this summer. Three whole weeks. Just the two of them. I saw him recently and asked, “How was your trip?” His answer is what prompted this post. His answer is what got me thinking about oxymorons and missed opportunities. He said:

“I didn’t realize it, but it’s what our marriage desperately needed. English isn’t spoken in the villages we visited, so we literally had no one else to talk to. It was like God set us up! We talked about everything. We shared everything. There was more touching, more laughing, more lovemaking, more handholding, more affection…it’s the closest we’ve been in years. Months later, we’re still enjoying the afterglow of those three weeks.”

That brings us to you.

You may not have the luxury of a three-week European vacation, but you do have 30 minutes to take your shoes off, hold her hand, and walk on the beach this weekend. You do have $20 for a few drinks at the local watering hole. You might even have $400 for a few nights out of town.

With a little initiative and effort, there’s something you can do to feed your marriage. Have you held it up to a mirror lately? It’s probably looking a little lean. And like my friend discovered, just-the-two-of-you time could be what it’s starving for.

So, when you pitch your wife with a walk on the beach, or drinks this Friday night, or even a brief jaunt out of town, remember to use her favorite oxymoron: “Wouldn’t that be fun? Just the two of us. Alone together.”

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Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Is Kevin Durant the Best Player On the Planet?

durant-blogBecause it is the NBA finals, let’s talk sports, and I will get to porn here in a bit.

I love football and love to watch the NBA come May. The basketball season is too long in my opinion, but the playoffs are great.

I grew up watching Jordan and all the talk about who is better then Jordan is pointless because there is no one better PERIOD.

On to Kevin Durant.

Last summer, Nolan and I went to game 7 at Oracle Arena and watched the Warriors come back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to beat KD and Westbrook and the rest of the OKC Thunder team in an epic game 7 of the Western Conference Championship.

 The game was amazing, and all the talk after the game was “where was KD? Can KD ever win a championship?”

A few weeks later, I watched the Warriors on TV lose the NBA championship in a fantastic game 7 against the Cavs and Lebron James.

In the off-season, the Warriors knew they needed to get better to beat the CAVS.

Move on to football. I love the Packers. I was in Atlanta for that horrible game in the playoffs. The Patriots win the Super Bowl and what do they do in the off-season? They get better and better even though they are on top. I wish more teams in the NFL would look at what they are doing and say we need to get better.

The Warriors got better last summer. How? Kevin Durant signed with them.

Arguably, the 2nd or 3rd best player in the league joins a team of all-stars who won 73 games last year and were a few minutes away from winning back to back NBA championship, but they came up short.

Durant took all sorts of crap for joining a “super team.”

I listen to First Take Live. Steven A. Smith who I agree with most days kills Durant for taking the easy way out to win a ring in his opinion.

Durant’s move to join the warriors was selfless.

He wants a ring, and after years of not getting it in OKC, he saw an option that could get him there. How would he do it? By joining a team that had better players.

The Warriors slogan is “strength in numbers.”

Let’s be honest most superstars don’t want to join a team with this kind of slogan. They want to be “the guy.”

In the regular season, we saw James Harden, and Russell Westbrook put up some of the greatest numbers ever in basketball, and one of them will win the MVP award this month. But who cares. Basketball is a team sport, and those guys are the best players on their team, but their teams never stood a chance in the playoffs.

Would either of those guys take a position on a team like Golden State that potentially could mean their personal numbers would go down?

I doubt it.

So back to KD. Warriors are up 3-0 in the NBA Finals. They are now 15-0 and one game away from sweeping Lebron James and the Cavs and becoming the first team ever to go 16-0 in the post season. Do you know what I have heard all week on the radio?

“KD is now the best player on the planet.”

“KD is moving from the #2 player to the #1 player in the world, surpassing Lebron James.”

“KD is now better than Lebron James.”

I can’t stand Lebron. Just saying that so you know, but he is currently the best player in the NBA. Not better than Jordan but he is better than anyone currently in the league.

KD is the smartest player in the league, and because of that, he is now in the conversation of being the best player on the planet because he made the smartest move ever.

KD will be the MVP of the NBA finals on Friday night.
KD will be credited with being the missing piece the Warriors needed to win the championship.
KD will get a ring that he has been chasing for ten plus years and always came up short.

KD will get the ring because he joined the right team.

I laugh at the comments about him being better than Lebron James. Basketball is a team sport, and individual accolades don’t mean anything.

I do think it is awesome that a move that most people criticized when he joined the Warriors is the same move that is now putting him in the conversation as being the best basketball player on the planet.

The Bible says “I must decrease so He can increase” and “More of You and less of me.”

I love that King James had to remind reporters that he is averaging a triple-double in this series before game 3. Guess what? Westbrook averaged a triple double all season long, and he got booted in the first round of the playoffs. KD is playing on a better team, and because of that, his game is elevated.

Run with people who can run faster than you.

Lebron makes his teammates look better. Great players do that, but Lebron still has to carry the team and do way too much on the court.

KD doesn’t have to do it all. He doesn’t have to play the minutes Lebron does. He has way more options on his team that can close out the game or put up points.

Often I think we all want to be like King James and be the best player on the team. We want to be the smartest person in the room. We want to surround ourselves with role players and lead them rather than play with four other all-stars.  You know what happens when KD plays with four other all-stars with a slogan that reads “strengths in numbers?”

The team wins, and in turn, KD wins.

Do I think he is a better ballplayer than Lebron? No. Smarter and selfless? YES, and that is what is needed to win in this league.

Can you join a superteam?

What would happen if Westbrook went to Celtics or the Cavs? He would have to decrease and take fewer shots but could he then actually become better?  Possibly but we won’t know because he will stay on a team where his is the best and will keep getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

In your life. You and I might not be NBA all-stars or MVP of the NBA finals, but that is not why I am writing.

People need other people. We have said that a lot. Let me say it like this. People need better people.

Do you continue to struggle?
Do you continue to fall into temptation? Do you continue to try and do everything on your own?
Why not go about things differently?

Addiction breeds isolation.

Remember that. I would challenge you to surround yourself with a better team. Better players. Maybe that is a mentor, perhaps that is a group of people that are further down the road than you.

If you don’t know, we have a small groups ministry here for men, women, pastors, and spouses. Ten people and one leader that meet each week at the same time online. If you want to check it out and join a group for free, here is how:

1. Select the type of group you’d like to try.

  • For My Pilgrimage (for men who struggle with addiction) Click Here.
  • For X3groups (for men or women who struggle with addiction) Click Here.
  • For Recover (for spouses of addicts) Click Here.

2. Select Register and complete the requested information.

3. When you go the checkout screen enter the coupon code SGOFREE and click Apply.

4. Once your checkout is complete, you will then be taken to the group selection page where you can pick a free group to try out.

Joining a new team is scary. Playing a team sport when all you have played is an individual sport is tough as well. I get it, but it is worth it.

Check it out and even if you don’t love basketball tune in tonight at 6 PM PDT and watch the Cavs get swept not by Kevin Durant but by a team built on the foundation of STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.

 

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