You feel like things are going well with your recovery, you've been on track for awhile. But tonight your wife's out of town and you're alone in bed. It's 11:45, but you're still wide-eyed, not drowsy at all. Then suddenly a previously viewed image pops into your mind. Whoa! The pull is even more potent now than it was the first time you saw it! The tractor beam of temptation just locked onto you.
You might succumb: Oh my, wow. Yes. Of course I won't go all the way down that path. But wow, that little flashback is enjoyable enough on its own. Relish it just a bit. Mmm... Okay, now it's fading. Dang, I just starting to have fun! I should get online and see if I can find more like that...
Instead of succumbing, you might struggle: Oh my, wow. No. I can't even start down that path. I can't believe those images are still popping into my head. I thought I was doing so well. And yet my wife is gone for one night and the devil pulls out the big guns. Seriously? Am I ever going to get to the point where I'm not even fazed by temptation? Are all my efforts going to ever pay off? I've been studying my scriptures. I've been attending my 12-step meetings. Maybe I'll never get over this. Am I hopelessly addicted? No! I'm determined. I can win. I will conquer! This addiction will NOT beat me. I am not going to give in. I'm gonna push out that intrusive thought, wrench my mind away from that tempting image.
My advice: Don't succumb, but don't struggle, either. Neither of those is the path toward freedom. Instead break one of the rules of addiction we've been talking about in the last few blog posts:
Look at Your Lenses
Face Your Feelings
Notice What's Now
Do What's You
The "Instant Replay" is one powerful way to look at your lenses. Catch yourself right after you start to feel the pull of temptation. Notice what started it: that previously viewed image popping into your mind. Rewind the tape and replay it again, only this time you're the play-by-play announcer: "I just thought, 'She was so sexy in that PG-13 movie. I wonder what other movies I could see her in."
Then restate it in "you" form, changing it from something said by you to something said to you. "You loved how sexy she was in that film. You know there have to be other movies where she's shown even more skin--you should go Google her and see if you can find an even better scene!"
Then identify the part of your mind doing the talking. Is that Clinger, who likes that old habit and can't bear the thought of giving it up? Or maybe it's Jason Bourne, who can wait dormant, out of sight for months but then burst onto the scene with a vengeance once he has a mission to accomplish? In the end, you decide it's probably Lonely Joe, who hates to sleep alone, but finds it easier to claim he's horny than to admit he misses your wife when she's gone.
My kids love the game Fugitive. One group tries to make it from their buddy's house all the way over to our house without being caught by the others. The fugitives jump fences and commando crawl through fields and backyards, doing all they can to go undetected. If anyone in the posse locks onto one of the fugitives with the beam of their flashlight, it's game over for them.
One of my clients said that, for him, illuminating Lonely Joe with the Instant Replay Game is a little bit like shining the flashlight on a fugitive. Game over. Spell broken. Temptation significantly diminished.
Give it a try and let us know if it has that kind of effect on you.