One common hurdle many men and women face when it comes to their recovery is the onset of “apathy.” Keep in mind I am not talking about the kind of apathy that may already exist in a person’s life where they simply don’t care about the relationships their behavior is having an impact on or their sexual habits.
That’s a different animal and speaks to an individual’s values and character.
I’m talking about the type of apathy that surfaces after someone has made multiple attempts to find freedom from their sexual demons or life situation and starts to give up because their efforts only seem to be met with failure or insurmountable odds.
Maybe you’ve been there?
You’ve tried and tried to break free of your struggles.
You’ve continually strived to change your station in life.
You’ve endlessly worked to improve your failing marriage.
And yet, you look back at all those efforts and only see a repeated pattern of failure.
Discouraging at best, hopeless at worst.
So then apathy sets in.
- Why continue to try when nothing works?
- Why tackle what feels like an impossible feat when there’s no promise of success?
- Why do things that will just create more stress, pressure and anxiety when you already have a heaping amount of that stuff on your plate?
Understandable? To a degree.
A good reason to stop working on a better life? Not at all.
But before we talk about pushing though your apathy, let’s make sure we understand what your apathy really is. It’s a masking state.
Karla McLaren, M.Ed., an award-winning author and social science researcher described apathy as follows:
“When you don’t have the energy or permission to work with your anger properly – when you aren’t able to protect your boundary or the boundaries of others, when you feel unable to speak out against the troubles or injustices you see, and when you feel incapable of affecting your surroundings – you’ll often move into the masking state of apathy.
A masking state helps you cover up your inner truths with a protective attitude that can distance you from uncomfortable situations. It can give you a necessary break from the situation, and its “I don’t care; I can’t be bothered; none of this matters” attitude can give you a sense of control.” 1
Think about that.
Remember that acting out sexually is often a detachment or freeze response your brain uses to escape from real life and pain (I talked about that in this post a little bit). And so it makes sense that if your answer to life’s problems has historically been detachment through sex, then it also makes sense you’ll seek detachment from the perceived hopeless state your sexual choices have created.
The question then is this: How do I get past my apathy?
And again, if we are talking about a character or values issue, until you realign what you value, there is no getting past your apathy. But if your apathy is a masked detachment response, then you can move forward.
But it will take some strength of will anchored in belief.
Now don’t read that previous sentence and think I’m saying all you need is more willpower. Willpower by itself will only get you so far and has an expiration date. In other words, your willpower reserves will eventually get depleted, and then you’ll be back where you started.
But willpower can be sustainable when it is anchored in belief.
- You need to believe things can get better.
- You need to believe that if others have found freedom you can as well.
- You need to believe that your efforts, if channeled in the right direction, will have a payoff.
- You need to believe in the promise of God and his love for you.
Because if you truly believe in those things, you will find the strength to keep going.
Willpower by itself is just effort for the sake of effort.
But willpower anchored in belief is effort because you believe in the promise of “when” and not “if.”
- When I get free things will change.
- When I find a breakthrough in my marriage, our relationship will improve.
- When I learn how to trust and abide in God’s promises, I will feel safe and loved.
- When I learn how to regulate my emotions in a healthy way, I won’t need to escape with porn, etc.
There is hope and there is healing.
These are not empty promises because I can point to many lives (including my own) that prove such claims. But no one said this stuff is easy, so in the meantime you may need to push through your apathy with a strong belief that freedom is indeed possible and a strong will to keep going.
1 The genius of apathy and boredom. Karla McLaren. (2023, January 24). Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://karlamclaren.com/the-genius-of-apathy-and-boredom/