I think one of the most challenging and equally under-appreciated jobs of our day has to be that of a meteorologist. Think about it with me for a second: These men and women devote their lives to studying weather patterns so that they can predict if it will be sunny or rainy on a particular day. They can be highly criticized when they make mistakes and barely noticed when they’re spot on.
What makes one meteorologist better than the other? How does he stand out from the crowd? I think there are a couple factors to consider:
- A great meteorologist never stops studying the weather.
- A great meteorologist is someone who’s been around a long time.
Commitment and experience. Focus and longevity. They never stop learning.
In the same way meteorologists work hard to predict the weather, we as men and women in recovery have the ability to forecast success in the journeys that we’re on too! We don’t have to struggle endlessly in our journey to become free.
No journey is perfect. There are plenty of slips, setbacks, even relapses along the way. But if we’re serious about what we’re trying to do, we can experience freedom and healing in our lives that we’ve never known before. And a huge part of what that looks like is understanding what makes us tick from day to day. What do I mean by that?
Forecasting success in recovery means being aware of the people, places, and things that can lead us into temptation and struggle. There are internal triggers and external triggers that we have to learn to understand how process in a healthy way. Understanding the people, places, and things that pull you down an unhealthy road would mostly fall into the external trigger category.
Take an inventory of your own life to see what areas you might be missing. Here are some areas to consider as you forecast success in your recovery:
1. PEOPLE – Ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, co-workers of the opposite sex (or same sex), strangers on social media. This is easier to do with some than with others. Perhaps this was a person you grew up with or a family member you regularly see. Maybe there was some sort of trauma or abuse that took place when you were young. Should you disown this person and simply avoid them? Perhaps. But make sure you get professional guidance and help from a trained therapist on how to go about healing in the area of triggering people. One thing is for sure: We cannot hide in caves and bury our heads in the sand trying to avoid anyone who makes us feel uncomfortable. Action Step: If there is a person you are continually triggered by, limit or even discontinue communication with them. Work to fill your life with safe, healthy people who you can grow with.
2. PLACES – This can be anything from a particular location you pass on the way to work to the room in the house that has internet access and a door you can shut. Make it a point to take a new route to work and never isolate yourself from people. I’ve met so many men over the past year that due to COVID have had to work from home. Certainly, for many this isn’t an option. But it also presents with it some challenges for the man who’s already used to hiding in secrecy over his porn addiction. Now, he has to be working 8-10 hours alone at home. It could be a place other than your home that’s really triggering. In that case, the best response is simply to avoid going there. Action Step: If you find yourself having to work from home for long periods of time, get outside as much as you can. Taking walks, runs, and getting fresh air is some of the greatest steps you can take to refresh your body and your mind.
3. THINGS – This one is the hardest! Triggers are unique to every individual. Some people have more than others. Some have less, but they are equally as powerful. Triggers can manifest in many different ways. A memory, a thought, a word someone speaks, even a smell can contribute to a spiral downward if we’re not careful. Because a trigger can come from almost anywhere it’s important to remember you’re not going to catch every one. Every day, we’re presented with opportunities to grow masquerading themselves as temptations and triggers. In those moments, we have the choice to find a healthy outlet in the midst of our pain. Self inventory tools like BLAST are a great place to start! BLAST stands for bored/burnt out, lonely, angry, apathetic, afraid, ashamed, abandoned, sad, stressed, selfish, and tired. This acronym will help you put into words what you’re feeling in the moment. Action Step: Perhaps the greatest thing you can do when you feel the pull to look at pornography or act out is to call someone safe, a healthy support person.
Don’t get caught off guard in your pursuit for sexual purity! Learning yourself, your limits, and your boundaries will help you stay one step ahead on your recovery journey!
Another great place to forecast success is in the company of other men who are on the same journey you are. Small Groups Online makes this opportunity super easy and accessible. If you’re trying to find success on your own, you’re going to get stuck. We were meant to live in community! Check out SGO today for more details on how to get started!