Recovery Requires Other People

Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who will disagree with you.

The great UCLA basketball coach and philosopher John Wooden once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” Recovering addicts could use this as a mantra. We need to understand that we’re unlikely to change without assistance from others. Honestly, our own best thinking got us where we are, so maybe it’s time to listen to others. To continue with the John Wooden theme, maybe it’s time for us to join a team of recovering people who might occasionally have useful ideas and advice on how to navigate life.

Just for Today
I will ask a trusted advisor for advice, and I will implement whatever is suggested.

Stop Saying “I Can’t”

Challenges test our courage and our ability to change.

In both our lives and our recovery, it is counterproductive to look at something daunting and say, “No way, I’ll never pull that off.” Instead of saying “I can’t,” we need to acquire and master the tools we need to succeed, one tool at a time. And then we must give it a shot, whatever “it” happens to be. As we master each new tool, we learn what it feels like to use it and succeed with it, and we’re ready and excited about learning and using and succeeding with the next tool. Success breeds success. And that is an incredible feeling. But we can only experience that feeling when we toss our preconceived notions about what we can’t do into the garbage.

Just for Today
I will listen for the words “I can’t,” and I will change them to “I can.”

Working Step Six

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I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

When working Step Six, it helps to realize that in letting go of our character defects we are not “giving something up.” Rather, we are learning to behave differently and in ways that better serve us. Compiling a list of affirmations can be useful in this regard. A good exercise for this is taking each character defect and writing three to five positive statements about living differently. These affirmations should be worded as if you’ve already conquered the defect. For instance, with “dishonesty” you might write:

  • I tell the truth in all matters, no matter what.
  • I no longer keep secrets from important people in my life.
  • I feel good about myself when I tell the truth.

Repeating these affirmations aloud at the start and close of each day is a great way to realize that letting go of character defects really does result in a better life. And that realization inevitably creates much of the willingness needed for Step Six.

Just for Today
I will create three to five positive affirmations designed to help me overcome a character defect.

Connection in Recovery

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Sex addiction is a disease of isolation.

Novelist Dean Koontz once wrote, “A fine line separates the weary recluse from the fearful hermit. Finer still is the line between hermit and bitter misanthrope.” Sex addiction is a disease that wants to cross those lines. This disease wants us alone and isolated, so it can both nurture and prey upon our shame. When there is nobody in our life to provide emotional comfort and to point out that our life is not as bad as it seems (or maybe that it’s worse than it seems), the addiction has free reign.

Just for Today
I will reach out to three different people in my sexual recovery support network, if only to say hello and let them know I care about them.

Finding the Right 12-Step Meetings

Decisions are easy when you know what you value.

Not every 12-step sexual recovery meeting is the same. Yes, most meetings tend to follow the same basic format, based on the same basic literature. But some meetings are either mostly or entirely attended by men (or women). Some meetings are speaker meetings, where only one person talks, while others are discussion meetings, where anyone can share. Some meetings allow cross-talk (feedback between members during the meeting), while others strongly discourage it. Some meetings read and discuss the steps or specific literature, whereas other meetings encourage people to talk about whatever it is that’s on their mind. Knowing this, sex addicts new to recovery should attend a variety of meetings to see which ones work best for them, keeping in mind the fact that their needs may change over time.

Just for Today
I will attend an unfamiliar meeting, just to see if I like it.

Building Your Support Network

When is the last time someone gave you the peace of their heart rather than a piece of their mind?

Having a knowledgeable and empathetic support network is a key to recovery. But healthy friendships are not something sex addicts are typically good at, which leaves us asking, “How do we know who to invite into our inner circle?” Happily, there are some easily identifiable qualities. Safe friends are people who:

  • Respect and maintain our and their boundaries
  • Do not gossip or share information they have been entrusted with
  • Understand that we are in a process of healing and recovery and are willing to be in that process with us
  • Do not collude with us in pretending that things are perfectly OK when they’re not
  • Do not stoke our fear by telling us horror stories that cause us to imagine worst-case scenarios
  • Have wisdom to share and offer sound, useful advice when we ask for it
  • Are available and willing when we need support

If we can find even one or two people who are able and willing to support us in these ways, we’ve got the beginnings of a terrific support network.

Just for Today
I will make a list of people that I might want in my support network, looking for qualities that appear in the list above.