3 Tactics for Overcoming Addiction
Have you been dealing with an addiction for years and haven't been able to change it? Maybe it's an addiction to smoking, alcohol, pornography or destructive relationships. Most of the advice we hear tells us to simply fight against it. Other sources simply shame readers into stopping. Ironically, shame is the very impetus that keeps people from changing.
The hardest part of struggling with sin is the struggle itself and the shame that results. If you are fighting your sin by your own power, you will fail. Using strict self-control will simply result in the flesh fighting against the flesh. It won’t work. The Apostle Paul talks about this power struggle in Romans 7. Paul does not do what he wants to do (good), but keeps on doing evil. What is the solution? Christ Jesus who delivers us from sin.
1. The first thing you can do is surrender it to Christ. Upon doing so, you surrender your belief in your ability to overcome your issue. All the willpower and self-condemnation in the world will never be enough to change yourself. In fact, it will do more harm than good. Trying to resist will only increase shame and make your addiction fight back harder.
2. The second tactic is to find healthy outlets where you can feed your soul through healthy outlets. You will be more effective in recovery by crowding out the bad with the good.
3. The third tactic you can implement is discover what you are trying to numb with your addiction. The reason why people use addiction is to numb negative emotions. It is entirely possible that a part of you is trapped in the past when something traumatic occurred around the time the addiction started. Bringing this part into the light and grieving any unfinished business will bring incredible healing. This can be done through counseling, support groups, and finding various resources and books that can lead you through the process.
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7 Tools for Fighting Lust
Lust is something that every man (and woman) must contend with. The struggle with lust doesn't end with marriage. In dealing with the lust issue, I've found that a combination of various approaches works synergistically in the battle. These are seven tools to implement in your life if you are having trouble with sexual temptation.
1. Set Up Boundaries
If you are struggling with pornography, set up a filter on your computer. If you are tempted to talk to others inappropriately, delete their numbers off your phone. Set up boundaries to help you think twice when you are at your weakest point. This one strategy is not enough to prevent you from acting out. Implementing these other tools will help you get to the emotional-spiritual root of your addiction.
2. Foster Accountable Friendships
How many other people really know you? Do you have friends that are like brothers (or sisters if you’re a woman) that you can turn to? A man needs more than just his wife for support. Your wife is primary, but you also need other godly men to open up to and be real with. The same is true for women. You need other sisters in Christ you can open up to. You can keep each other accountable and build one another up. If you don't have friends like this, ask God to help you find godly friends, and be willing to be the first one to reach out.
3. Spend Time with God
Yes, I know this one is touted over and over again. But we are so bombarded with work, internet, and cellphones, how often do you sit down to intentionally read scripture, pray, and meditate? I tell others to pray in a way that is honest, open and real. God is not afraid of your emotions. Much catharsis can be found in expressing how you feel to God and resting in his presence. Try doing absolutely nothing for ten minutes every day and simply listen and wait for God to speak. You may be surprised at what you hear. Spending time with God builds up your mind so that you can think positively and redemptively.
4. Engage Your Thoughts
Ignoring sexual thoughts works sometimes, but other times such thoughts can return with a vengeance. Just telling yourself 'no' can make your sinful nature fight back even harder. Try engaging with what you are tempted to think about. This doesn't mean indulging in your temptation, but ask yourself why you are thinking that way. A good way to process your thoughts is to start a journal. Make a practice of viewing others as daughters and sons of God. Also take note if there are parts of you that are afraid or resentful toward those of the opposite sex. Such unresolved issues may be the root of your addiction.
5. Notice Your Triggers
Recognizing a woman's beauty is unavoidable. But turning acknowledgment into ardent desire is lust. Notice when you are feeling B.L.A.S.T.'ed (Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired). Your physical wellbeing has more effect on your spiritual-emotional wellbeing than you realize. Maybe it's time to eat healthier, exercise or be intentional about getting enough rest at night.
6. Build Self-Esteem
Many who turn to pornography or other forms of sexual temptation have issues with their own self esteem. As a man, finding an attractive woman to validate your feelings of inferiority will only work temporarily. A woman cannot validate or affirm a man, only God can. Learning to accept yourself and finding your identity in Christ is key.
7. Embrace Intimacy
Your sexuality was not meant to be used irresponsibly or ignored all together. All that energy was intended by God to be funneled into a one-on-one intimate relationship with one other person. If you are married and struggling with sexual temptation, there is likely a part of you that is avoiding intimacy. Such parts can find healing through all the other tools mentioned above and can also be addressed in counseling.
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