Feed the Right Wolf
There is an old proverb (credited to many different sources) about a man with two wolves living inside him. One wolf is filled with shame, anger, fear, greed, resentment, false pride, self-pity, anxiety, frustration, and despair. The other wolf is filled with joy, serenity, acceptance, trust, peace, empathy, creativity, kindness, hope, and love. The wolves, being wolves, are fighting for control of the man’s soul, and he wonders which will win.
Finally, after much reflection, he realizes that the winning wolf will be the one he chooses to feed. And with that, his future is no longer left to the wolves.
Never is this proverb more useful than when talking to recovering addicts, especially recovering sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts. When we enter recovery, we have a choice. We can feed our addict wolf with continued sexual fantasy and addictive sexual behaviors. Or we can feed the recovery wolf with thoughts and behaviors geared toward sobriety and healing.
The simple truth is we become what we surround ourselves with. If we are addicted to sex, pornography, or paired substance/sex behaviors, and we continue to surround ourselves with sexualized inputs (including sexual fantasies and euphoric recall of past sexual experiences), we feed the addict wolf. If, however, we choose to surround ourselves with helping professionals and other actively recovering addicts, we feed the recovery wolf.
If we want to recover from our addiction and become our best selves, we must live in an environment that supports those ends. For an example, consider diabetics. Most diabetics, when diagnosed, are instructed to eat better and exercise regularly. Many are able to do this without much struggle, but others, despite their best intentions, can’t seem to manage this for more than a few weeks. And usually the difference is not the individual; it’s the support network around the individual. If the entire household eats healthier and goes for a walk every day, lasting change is easy for the diabetic. But if others in the household continue to eat poorly and shirk exercise, so will the diabetic.
The same is true with addiction. If we want to recover, we must surround ourselves with people in recovery. We need their support (and they need our support). On our own, we do not do well. Together, our odds of success increase exponentially. This is one of the reasons 12-Step Programs, Residential Rehab, and low-cost online workgroups like our Sex Addiction 101 and Porn Addiction 101 groups are so useful. They bring us together in an atmosphere of recovery. They feed the recovery wolf.