Last month, I talked about the specific ways in which cultivating and expressing gratitude can literally change your brain. More specifically, your brain can actually be transformed in terms of your thinking and processing complex emotions and feelings.
The late Dr. Mark Laaser has said that research has found that the brain is for all intensive purposes, “plastic”. The impact upon one’s brain from years of addiction and compulsive sexual behavior CAN be reversed. The brain can heal. Meaning this: You are NOT trapped in the same thinking and behaving you’ve always had. You can become different.
This month, I want to pivot the direction a little bit in terms of gratitude. As a man who’s been in recovery for 12 years, I’ve been afforded many incredible opportunities and resources over the years. All of which really aided me in maximizing the success of my recovery long-term. In virtually every conversation I have with a man walking through addiction, I make sure to talk about each one of these.
As I reflect back on my journey, I am grateful I experienced the following opportunities. In fact, they were so much more than opportunities. They were gifts given to me out of a genuine desire to see my life restored to what God intended it to be. I wanted to highlight a few:
- Counseling — I think as we’re living in a culture that is still navigating through Covid and other social anxieties, counseling may look a little different than it did 12 years ago, but there’s no doubt there’s still incredible value to having the opportunity to sit with a licensed therapist who is trained in being able to help sex addicts. Christian counselors who are trained in sexual addiction therapy are able to offer a wonderful blend of guidance from the truths of Scripture while also asking specific questions that help point to the “why” behind the addiction. I’m so thankful I was able to sit with a counselor for a season in my journey. Something to be mindful of: Counseling can be expensive, but overall I’ve found it to be worth the investment in my life.
- Groups — There are very few opportunities so unique and special as the group setting. Recovery groups, support group, even today Zoom groups offer the ability to form healthy community with other men or women who are struggling in very similar ways as you are. For me, this was perhaps the greatest opportunity I was afforded in my recovery journey. Every week, I looked forward to meeting with other brothers who wanted to get healthy in the same ways I was. I soon began to believe the reality that I couldn’t get healthy on my own. I NEEDED other people in my life whether I realized it or not. An even deeper truth that one is able to uncover within the group setting is understanding how much others are depending on you. In other words, you recovery isn’t just meant for you. You’re not apart of a group just for yourself. Other men need to hear about the hope, redemption, and health you have found too.
- Intensives — Another very beneficial opportunity in recovery is attending a weekend or week long intensive. An intensive often involves a great blend of teaching from a trained or incensed therapist, group sessions, and individual work that can be done with much more time afforded over the course 3-4 days. Intensives can be done with just a few people and range in size. I’ve been blessed to be apart of workshops that involved close to 20 men or more even. The amount of information, individual and group therapy you receive is so valuable. Even as the world still deals with Covid, many ministries and organizations are going online to offer these intensives. As with counseling, there is often a cost required for these intensives, but as previously mentioned, opportunities like these are well worth it.
What do all these things have to do with the brain? For me, it was through these experiences in my life that I found freedom and healing. Through individuals helping me understand the “why” behind my behavior to times of group interaction where I found healthy community. Every bit of it helped me…and in turn, helped my brain re-wire.
I’m so grateful today that I was given so many life-changing opportunities to heal. I know that all of these things may be accessible to you all at once. And that’s ok. Just start with one. Do something healthy for your soul today.
Contact Small Groups Online today if you’re interested in starting the journey of knowing and being known by others who also struggle like you do. Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to jump into a Zoom meeting hosted by a trained group leader waiting to get to meet you. You’ll also be invited to download and join the Live Free app where further communication and discussions are available to you throughout the week.