Before trying to stop the act, I think it’s important to commit to the belief that is masturbation is destructive. While it is my belief that it is an unhealthy and destructive behavior for me I didn’t always feel this way. And when I didn’t fully commit to this it was too easy to rationalize my way into thinking that it was ok. In many different ways, mainstream society tells us it’s OK to masturbate and perhaps for some of us it is. However, I’ve come to respect the disease of sexual addiction and I know for me, it is an unhealthy act. Simply put, it’s an escape from feeling my emotions and from experiencing intimacy with those around me. It’s easy to fall into the “entitlement trap” and just give in because “it’s just what men do”. Right? The reality for me is that this is not true. I know this because I feel shameful when I do it. How can anything that is “OK” have shame as a consequence? I think it’s important that we first come to the conclusion that “masturbation is not ok” and engaging in the act is destructive to me and my loved ones. It’s not what all healthy men do. Once we’ve come to terms with this we can move on to incorporating useful tools to stop.
Bias for action. When the compulsion to masturbate comes it will be met with action. Either we will act on it by doing it or we must defeat the urge with another positive healthy action. The healthy actions I have found are as follows:
I Take a personal emotional inventory:
- How am I feeling?
– Angry? Fearful? Anxious? Resentful?
– Hint: If I don’t know how I am feeling, I pay attention to my thoughts as these are a window to my emotions.
– Also, what am I trying to control that is better left turning over to God?
- Who have I shared these feelings with?
– My wife? Men from my fellowship? My journal? God through Prayer?
– We are reminded of the power of community in Provers 12:22. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”
I get myself in trouble in these two ares. I tend to stuff my emotions and I isolate and try to figure everything out on my own. So when I am tempted to masturbate, what’s really behind it is usually uncovered by going through this process. Additionally, connecting with the consequences is also effective for me. My consequences of masturbation are:
- Masturbation will emotionally disconnect me from my wife
- Masturbation will disconnect me from God, and
- Masturbation will make me feel ashamed.
Is this really what I deserve?
The other thing that is important for me to assess is how hard I am working at my daily recovery. If I’m not working at it every day, then sooner or later I will find myself triggered and wanting to masturbate, or worse! When I do slip, I try to identify what activities I’ve been lax on and not so much on what I could have don differently in the heat of the moment. I believe once I’ve made up my mind to masturbate it’s usually too late to win that battle. However, if I work diligently every day, then I have a much better chance of avoiding the act that day. And really that’s all I can control!
These are some of the things I try to do daily to keep me on task:
- Make phone calls to men from my fellowship to check in and share what’s going on with me. Getting in touch with my emotions is like lifting weights. The more I do it the better I get at it!
- Make sure I am communicating with my wife
- Start the day by reading the bible and other recovery related material
- Pray (especially helpful when I am tempted!)
- Give back to my community by working with other men who struggle with sexual addiction
- Put healthy activities in my daily routine like bike riding or having lunch with a friend
In the event that I do slip, I am honest about it and I face the consequences head on. However, I also do not beat myself up in the process. Rather I try to be gentle on myself. Instead of focusing on the imperfection, I try and remember that it’s my progress that counts! While I don’t let myself off the hook, I know that beating myself up won’t get me where I need to go.