People who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior (or any addiction for that matter) who are looking to break free from their addictions must realize that recovery involves more than just quitting the behavior. They must realize that many times sex and porn are symptoms of a larger problem and that maintaining sobriety is only but a start of that process.
Realize that acting out sexually serves the roles of procrastinator, saboteur, avoider, and so on. It allows you to check out and distance yourself from your life and true goals. When I work with my clients, I stress the need to create a personal wellness plan—a multidimensional plan of action that emphasizes health and satisfaction. A wellness plan usually takes into account varying dimensions of wellness: Physical, Mental/Emotional, Spiritual, Social, Financial and Sexual.
Parts of Your Wellness Plan
Determining your own goals of physical well-being centers around nutrition and exercise. The latter is a big deterrent to compulsive sexual behavior as it gives us a physical outlet to acting out sexually—sort of replacing the endorphins we get while in the stages of our ritualistic behavior.
I encourage my clients to have regular physicals, and then assess what they want to accomplish. Do you want to join a gym? Get a personal trainer? Are you trying to build endurance, strength, muscle and/or lose or gain weight? In regards to nutrition, consider your current diet and determine how it influences your health.
How do you cope with difficult situations? Which feelings or emotions do you tend to notice the most? Track these via a feelings journal and certainly try to “dialogue” with these feelings and thoughts. Consider what changes you would like about you react to these and perhaps more in control of them.
We’re not really talking about your religion or your belief in religion but rather how you observe the meaning of your life and your place or role in it. Are you able to find inner peace and meaning or do you struggle with feelings of isolation and disengagement?
Do you take into account your present relationships—family, friends, professional—and like what you see? Are you happy or do your social obligations and relationships cause you stress?
Consider your level of financial wellness? Do you live within your means? Are you in credit card debt? Do you keep a budget?
Sexual sobriety is not a stand-alone subject. It’s part of the aforementioned collective practice. Examining other elements and seeking a “balanced portfolio” is optimal.
Setting Goals for your Wellness Plan
* Physical – Visit a local fitness center. Speak to your doctor about your weight and health. Pick some form of physical movement that you fit you best.
*Mental/Emotional—Set aside time for quiet reflection. Consider meditation and yoga. Seek out professional help (i.e. therapy) if you are stuck in your problem.
*Spiritual—Along with considering meditation and yoga, think about getting involved in your faith if you are religious. Perhaps you have left your place of worship and would like to return.
*Financial—Create a budget and track spending. Consider making an appointment with a financial planner.
*Sexual—Some people put an emphasis on the number of days of sobriety they can achieve. The suggestion here is rather to set up the discipline of reading and writing and less on the metrics. Similar to your mental and spiritual goals, you may want to create a special place in your home that is conducive to self-reflection. Make it comfortable and welcoming and try to keep it on a schedule (example would be would be early morning).
A balanced lifestyle will go a long way in helping you establish consistent sobriety in your recovery from compulsive sexual behavior.