"Daddy, watch." "Daddy, look at this." "Daddy, watch this."
Our seven year old is in a "cartwheel phase." In other words, she does more cartwheels in a day than I can count. But she doesn't just do cartwheels. She wants us to watch her do the cartwheels. And for us to give some form of approval or applause. "Wow!" we'll say excitedly, or "You're so good at that!" Or a brief but enthusiastic, "Mm!" (That's the best we can do when we're in the middle of doing dishes and directing our toddler not to stand on the chair.)
We all have a pre-installed desire to be told that we did a good job. We want encouragement, attaboys. We long for reassurance that we're doing the right things. Whether we want that desire to be there or not, it's there. I don't think this is a sign of weakness. I think it's a fundamental part of being human. So here's a question for you: Who gives you a high five when you do a good job? In your work, as a husband, as a father, as a friend? When you have a win or do the right thing, who pats you on the back? Now, think about this question as it relates to the struggle with porn. When you have a win (whether big or small), who high fives you? When you attain a victory, a small triumph, who celebrates with you? Here's the thing: I believe we need encouragement. We need to see and believe that we are making progress, that we're growing. We need wins, even tiny wins. And we need to take moments to celebrate those wins. This is fuel for your journey. Without this, the journey gets discouraging, and leads to disillusionment. We need those moments when we can stop, take a look around, and see how far we've come. To see the steps, however small, that we've taken to get closer to where we want to be. So how can you do this? Here are two ways that I've found very helpful:
1. High five yourself. When you have a win, when you experience an urge to watch porn and you don't give into it, record it somewhere. Write it down. Put a small pebble in a jar. Keep track of it on your phone. Just make note of it in a way that you can go back and see it. I believe this is so important, that it's actually the fourth step of the P.A.T.H. Plan. Also, replay the win in your mind. Have a moment of gratitude about it. Relive the win. Relive that feeling, and how empowering and exciting it was. This is a great thing to do at the end of the day. 2. Share it with someone close to you. Who is someone in your life you could share your victories with? All kinds of victories: as a husband, as a dad, as an employee, as a friend. And yes, in the journey to be free from porn. If you have never shared with anyone about the freedom journey you're on, I encourage you to consider it. It's been said that every time you share something vulnerable, it cuts the shame in half. My own experience has confirmed this to be true. So remember, celebrate the wins. High five yourself. Celebrate with someone. You'll find that this is some of the best fuel on your journey into freedom. Journeying with you, Dan