So, you want to make this year count?
January is the perfect time to start fresh for the New Year. You can start over at any time, but there’s something exciting about the prospect of achieving a clean slate for an entire year. If you want to make this a year of freedom, here are some vital tools you need to put in place for the journey.
What do you want to achieve this year?
Of course, you probably have ‘Stop using porn!’ ‘Stop masturbating!’ ‘Stop having sex!’ at the top of your list, which is great! But go further. This year, don’t just focus your energies on goals that restrict, but set goals that add to your life! Consider setting goals that focus on health, community, work or fun. Add something new and positive to your life and keep at it.
Write these goals down. Then, list why you want to achieve them. How will your life be enriched? What will improve? Next, how?
Write down a plan to reach your goals.
Consider creating a mind map or attractive visual containing these goals and plans. Place it somewhere you will see it regularly. Perhaps in your journal, or next to your bed. Make it clear and beautiful to encourage you throughout the year when the desire to pursue freedom is lacking. You can even share it with an accountability partner or friend.
Goal #1 Refrain from using pornography
Why? I Will feel freer, not live in shame, I will be healing my brain’s pathways and understanding of sex
How? Download filtering software, call accountability partner, book in with a Christian counsellor, study in public places.
Goal #2 Learn how to cook
Why? I’ll save money on pre-prepared meals, bonding time with Mum, I can host dinner parties
How? Ask Mum or Aunty Louise for lessons, buy a recipe binder, cook a new meal each Wednesday
Accountability means not fighting alone.
You need a small group, counsellor, mentor or friend to keep you accountable. By now, it should be pretty clear you can’t beat addiction on your own. You need someone on the outside to step in when times get tough. But you have to invite them, first. If you haven’t had an accountability relationship before, or your vigour has lapsed in the last year, now is the time to act. Seek out a group or individual willing to walk with you, and listen to your victories and struggles this year. Make sure you have a person willing to answer calls or texts when you’re feeling tempted. See here for tips on doing accountability really well.
To increase your chances of finding long-lasting freedom, download X3watch on all of your devices to kick-start your accountability.
3. Self Care
Self-care is often forgotten in our busy lives, but it is absolutely vital to recovery. It looks different for each individual, and perhaps surprisingly, it’s more than getting a pedicure and eating cake when you’re stressed.
Self-care goes deeper than cake. It’s about identifying what you need to thrive, and chasing it. It means looking after your health and hygiene and fuelling your body well. It means sleeping well, drinking adequate water to keep you feeling functional, resting when you’re sick or tired and speaking kindly to every part of your body. Self-care means becoming self-aware and dealing with negative emotion, false beliefs and dysfunctional behaviours. It also means connecting with community, developing healthy friendships and walking with God.
Most importantly, participate in self-care by doing (safe) things that make you feel alive. It may be walking in nature, horse riding, motorcycle riding, reading, cooking, giving, singing, taxidermy or anything you can think of. It’s important to make time for yourself on this journey, and pursue what refreshes and restores you (and yes, sometimes that looks like pedicure and cake!)
Self-care is about holistic healing, and ensuring your whole self is being nurtured.
When you simply restrict a behaviour, it can be effective for a season. ‘White-knuckling’ will never be enough to heal you though. It is important to delve beneath the surface and find the deeper issue fuelling the behaviour. Pornography or sexual acting out is a symptom of an intimacy disorder. It is medication for a hurting heart. Some women have obvious wounds in their past, while others may come from a fairly stable background. In most cases however, the sexual behaviour is masking some kind of pain or discomfort. With the help of recovery material or a counsellor, explore your heart and find the pain you are medicating.
5. Pray and connect with God
Pray over the year and don’t stop. Make time to listen for God’s voice, too. Ask Him for clarity and wisdom, and wait on it. If you’re feeling distant from God, do your best to connect with him however you can right now. Simply listen to healing music if it’s all you can muster. Otherwise, it may be an ideal time start reconnecting with your Church community, or carving out some space to interact with the Bible. These are rather ‘traditional’ suggestions for engaging with God. They’re a great start, but remember each individual’s relationship with God looks different, and the way they connect with him is unique. It’s okay if your relationship with him looks like doubts and questions at the moment, just don’t forget he’s there for you, in all seasons.
Not only do you want a dedicated accountability partner or group, but gather a ‘support team’ of friends and mentors who know and love you. These are people who you can spend time with, and be encouraged not only in the one area of lust, but as a whole person. You need friends to build you up and engage with your interests, quirk and dreams, stuff that isn’t tied up in addiction. Pursue healthy friendships with all genders, and balance the hard work of recovery with some real fun and adventure!
When you’re going into battle against a beast, knowledge is power. Learn it’s weak spots, strengths and tactics. Pornography is a powerful opponent but you can gain the upper hand by studying how it works. Learn how it impacts the brain, heart and world. You can over power it by understanding the addiction cycle and where it will try to hit you. Developing your knowledge on pornography and addiction increases your self-awareness, giving you the ability to see through it’s lies.
This is your Ultimate Guide to starting the New Year well and making this the best year yet. Use it to identify which areas you need to improve in, or begin pursuing. Return to tool number one, create a vision board with the information you now possess, and give it your best.
Remember, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in this for the long haul and you have to be sustainable. Don’t let any setbacks during the year trip you up and doom the remaining months to relapse. Get right back up, and continue your recovery journey.