How to Improve Self-Control

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Self control can be tricky business: There is a quote I love by Philip Meyer……”The entire history of humanity is marked by a single inexorable movement – from animal instinct toward rational thought, from inborn behavior toward acquired knowledge. A half-grown panther abandoned in the wilderness will grow up to be a perfectly normal panther. But a half-grown child similarly abandoned will grow up into an unrecognizable savage, unfit for normal society. Yet there are those who insist the opposite: that we are creatures of instinct, like wolves.”

We are similar to animals in that we have impulses and critical needs, but we are unique in that we can make logical decisions and think critically. However, these two sides of our brains are often in conflict. We constantly find ourselves in situations where we need to choose between what we want instinctively, and what we should do. “I really want this piece of cake, but I should have an apple instead.”

What the Research Shows: “Studies have found that children equalize their lifelong self-control level by age seven or eight (though these are not necessarily permanent and can be changed well into adulthood). People with high self-control are able to consider the long-term implications of their actions and can accordingly delay gratification, or choose to act based on their overall best interests. Those with low self-control, by contrast, have difficulty thinking beyond their immediate desires. This impulsiveness manifests in ways that can be destructive both to these individuals and those around them, including risk-taking behavior (which stems from lack of consideration given to possible hazards) and low empathy for those around them.”

How to change: Is it possible to increase our self control and allow it to overshadow our natural instincts? YES! Here is some food for thought from recent Social Psychology research. “Practicing self control in one area of your life will help you improve self control overall. So, if you’d like to increase your willpower, don’t make a long list of New Year’s resolutions and tackle them all at once in January. A better strategy, the research suggests, is to start with one area and then let your increased self control spread throughout your newly improved life.”

Try something new this week. Decide to floss your teeth every day, do yoga on Saturday mornings, read an educational book for an hour before bed. These, (small as they seem) are the start to accomplishing your bigger resolutions.

 

 

4 Ways that Covenant Eyes Can Protect Your Family

The age of internet has made pornography so prevalent that most teenagers and young adults consider not recycling more immoral than viewing porn.

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Sure, recycling is important. But it’s likely that the general population of teens is unaware of just how harmful pornography is from the inside out. Thankfully, internet filtering systems like Covenant Eyes can give your family some protection from these harms. Here are four ways that Covenant Eyes can help your family:

  1. Customized filters for every family member

The average age of pornography exposure and addiction are the same: Age 11. (2) Since this is the case, it’s true when Covenant Eyes’ website says “One wrong click can change a life.” Internet filters are a great tool to protect pre-teens from unwanted exposure to pornography. Covenant Eyes lets you customize your internet filter settings to the ages and needs of your family. You can create custom lists of blocked sites for each person or device in your home—you can even turn off the internet completely at certain times of day. It’s designed for your family, whatever your needs are.
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  1. Accountability for you and your spouse

Most people who have ever tried to start a new workout program know that it helps to have a buddy—someone who is counting on you to get up, show up, and not give up. When you are trying to reach a goal, it helps to have someone on your side. Covenant Eyes has an internet accountability feature that lets you report to one specific person on your internet use. You can identify a coach for yourself—be it a spouse or a parent—and account to just that person on your progress.

  1. Get reports on what’s happening in your home

Internet accountability also lets you parent in a way that will build trust and openness among the members of your family. This feature sends reports to you so that you can see what websites and levels of content are being viewed in your home. Covenant Eyes explains it this way on their website: “Internet accountability is a report of what you see and do online, designed to start a conversation, helping everyone in your home make wiser choices about Internet use.” (3)

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  1. Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge App

If you or someone in your family is struggling with a pornography addiction, there’s an app for that. Covenant Eyes released a new app for iPhone that gives you inspiring messages, prompts for reflection and a tracker to help you chart your progress. An Android app will be released in 2017.

Covenant Eyes was designed with the idea that every family is unique. Understanding your family’s needs, you can use internet filtering and accountability in tailored ways that will do the most good. It’s more important than ever to create a plan so that pornography doesn’t become commonplace in your home. You can check out more and buy the product at www.covenanteyes.com.

Download the iPhone app
Setting Up the iPhone app

Download the Android app
Configuring the Android app

Oh, and be sure to recycle.

 

 

Sources:

  1. “The Porn Phenomenon: Survey of U.S. Teens & Adults.” Covenant Eyes Comparisons/Barna Group. January 19, 2016
  2. “Healing Hidden Wounds.” Jennifer Grace Fallon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ensign. September 2016.
  3. “What is Internet Accountability?” Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering. October 20, 2016. Web. http://www.covenanteyes.com/services/internet-accountability/

 

 

Love Kills Porn: A Documentary about Overcoming Addictions

Celine Reese, a photographer and BYU-Idaho graduate with a degree in Communications, created a beautiful, inspiring video for her senior project encouraging fighters to keep standing up against pornography and show the positive side.

“In our society, there is so much shaming,” Celine said. “So many of us have this misconception that those who make these sins are bad people. We are so afraid to talk about it, and those who are fighting are terrified of opening up about it. It is such a hard topic, but I wanted to get people to see this horrible problem in a more positive light. There is hope.”

While talking about her inspiration to create this video, Celine said, “I knew so many people that went through it, and I wanted them to feel hope. I also felt like I had no idea how to support them. When someone loses a battle, sometimes you take it all on yourself. … I wanted to give fighters hope and help them, and I wanted to help supporters know that they’re not alone.”

logo-lineAccording to Celine, shaming does nothing to help, and neither does believing these people are bad. Both parties are afraid to open up and talk about it, and while it is a hard topic to discuss, Celine hopes her viewers recognize the importance and power of hope. “We can’t judge anyone. We need to have our arms open to them,” she said.

“We always focus on the problem,” Celine said. “So what’s the opposite of porn? Love. If porn kills love, then you can bet that LOVE kills PORN. Through relationships, the atonement, and family, pornography, with a lot of work from the fighter, can be overcome. But it can’t be overcome without love, without that communication, and without those positive bonds.”

Fighters should find someone to confide in and help keep them accountable and recognize that love and hope.

Supporters should remember that they’re not alone. “They can always talk to someone, even me, about what they’re feeling,” Celine said. It may be easy to feel responsible for lost battles, but that is not true. Supporters simply need to “listen, tell the fighter they are loved, and tell them to come to Christ. Then they remember that too.”

 

For more from Celine and her fighters, check out “Love Kills Porn: Q and A with Fighters and Producer” and “Love Kills Porn Q and A” (part two).

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Dealing With A Loved One’s Addiction

When it comes to addiction, it can be difficult to deal with the choices your loved ones have made. It’s hard to know how you can help and what you are supposed to do. But don’t give up. Here are some tips that can help encourage you as you fight alongside your loved one.

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The first thing you must realize is that you cannot make choices for others. Attempting to do so might cause temporary changes, but your loved one will eventually revert back to their old habits.

You can, however, support plans that they make, encourage change, and ask them what you can do to help. If they tell you what you can do, try as hard as you can to actually do it. If they don’t ask you to do anything, offer specific services like, “Would it help if I sat by you when you are on the computer?” You can always offer ideas, but you need to be able to accept rejection, too. Don’t try to force your way in if your loved one rejects your help; he/she may think they need to deal with it on their own. Keep cheering.

Be accepting of the person without condoning their actions. You should continue to be loving and supportive as your loved one continues to fight. You also need to be clear that you do not support their negative behaviors. It helps to be honest about the way their addiction makes you feel as long as you stay away from harsh words.

You can’t change them by your will alone, but knowing they’re not alone while dealing with a pornography addiction can help them find the motivation to change.

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Consider attending counseling. For example, a marriage counselor can provide ideas on how to help each other. They might also be able to open the dialogue between you and your spouse.

Counseling can also help your loved one. A counselor will be able to see the situation objectively and give them strategies and tools to overcome their addiction. It can also be helpful for your loved one to be accountable to a third party, rather than someone close to the situation. This can relieve pressure from both parties involved. The addict doesn’t feel as bad about confessing, which can make recovery easier, and you don’t have to deal with the stress of knowing what your loved one is doing.

It can also be useful for you to privately see a counselor. It helps to have someone else to talk to, which can make you more patient with your loved one, and it can also give you a better perspective on the situation.

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Finally, ask your loved one questions. This can help you to understand the severity of the problem. When asking questions, avoid using visually descriptive terms. If you need further details, use specific, scientific terms. This keeps things mature and often prevents the mind from straying. You can also get a lot of information by asking “pictures, gifs, or videos?” or “gay, lesbian, straight, trans…?” without causing an image to pop up in their mind.

If your loved one won’t tell you what they have been looking at, don’t press too much and avoid looking at their browsing history. This can often lead to seeing pornographic images that you would have otherwise been able to avoid, which often leads to curiosity and could eventually lead to addiction.

What helped you talk to your loved one? Share it below.

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4 Great Online Resources for Recovering Porn Addicts

1. Reboot Blueprint focuses on men’s sexual health. According to the website, it “discusses the possible dangers of a porn habit, how to reverse the damages done by years of habitual porn use, and how to overcome porn-induced [erectile dysfunction] and sexual anxiety related to porn addictions.” The website was created by a man who has struggled with pornography usage and the damage porn causes. He created the site to help others on the road to recovery.

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2. Your Brain On Porn was created by a group of men who have recovered from porn-related problems and includes a retired anatomy and physiology teacher. They “don’t like people suffering needlessly because they lack critical information for improving their circumstances themselves” and decided to help by creating this site.

This website focuses on a secular viewpoint. Just like the title indicates, the majority of the information found on this site deals with how internet porn affects the brain, which they conclude can induce sexual dysfunction, social anxiety, depression, brain fog, and many other negative effects. They also include tools for change (by oneself or with others), “rebooting basics,” and studies done on pornography usage.

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3. LDS Addiction Recovery Program is based off of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step recovery program. Meetings are run by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and usually take place weekly. Depending your location, meetings can be found specifically for only women or men. There are also support groups specifically for the spouses and families of addicts. All twelve steps of the program can be found on the LDS Church website at addictionrecovery.lds.org, along with success stories, resources for spouses and families, and videos about the program.

logo-line4. Overcoming Pornography is a website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It does focus on overcoming pornography addictions through religious beliefs, but it also provides messages of hope for struggling addicts and their families, templates for personal recovery plans, and general advice on how to avoid pornography. The website includes three sections: one for individuals, one for spouses and families, and one for LDS church leaders. Each of these sections includes resources for recovery and prevention of porn addictions.

Do you have an additional resource? Share it below!

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How to Utilize Relapse Effectively

Relapse on the road to recovery can be extremely discouraging. It can make you feel like a failure, which in turn can completely demotivate you.

Relapse, however, is a necessary part of overcoming any addiction. It doesn’t make you a bad person—it simply makes you human! The trick is to get back up and keep trying.

In order to use your relapse to your benefit, you must first overcome any guilt or negative feelings. It’s important to remember that the only way you’ll ever fail is by giving up. As Paulo Coelho said, “The secret of life is to fall seven times and get up eight.”

Next, you should analyze your plan of action. After your relapse, you should ask yourself questions such as:

  • Where did things go wrong?
  • What can I do better next time?
  • How can I make sure I don’t repeat the same mistake?

Usually, when attempting to overcome an addiction, you already have a plan before you relapse. For example, you might plan to turn off your computer any time you become tempted to look at pornography. When analyzing your plan, you might realize that when you’re alone, you are still tempted. You might adjust your plan so that whenever you have a temptation, you go for a walk or call your mom.

This is the reason why relapse is necessary. Each time you slip up, you can learn from your mistakes and improve your plan of action. This way, you will continue to progress.

Finally, you need to move forward with confidence. The fight against pornography may feel like an uphill battle, but some day, you will reach the summit and it will become easier.

How to Discuss Pornography with Your Significant Other

It is important to discuss pornography in any relationship, but especially when the relationship is beginning to progress toward marriage. However, it can also be an incredibly awkward conversation to have, especially if done the wrong way.

Before asking your partner any questions about their pornography history, you first need to be prepared for any answer you receive. Pornography addictions are a lot more common than you might like believe, which means it’s very likely that your boyfriend or girlfriend has come in contact with porn at some point in their life. Opening up about these types of issues can be very difficult, which means you need to be as kind and loving as possible.

The conversation also needs to be had in a safe environment. It’s going to be a lot more difficult to have a meaningful conversation if you or your partner feel uncomfortable.

If you already have suspicions that your significant other has a pornography problem, you can flat out ask about it. This, again, should be done in a loving way, avoiding any accusatory statements or tones.

A less awkward way to approach the conversation is to buy a book of questions to ask your boyfriend or girlfriend or a book of questions to ask before you get engaged. These questions often include questions about pornography usage, especially if the text is religion based in any way. By using a book of prewritten questions, the situation becomes a lot more casual and removes pressure from both parties involved.

If your partner answers yes, you also need to discuss how they are working on the problem. This way, you know how to proceed with your relationship.

Remember, if you ask your significant other about their pornography usage, you will most likely be asked about yours in return. If you expect them to be honest with you, you need to be honest with them.

What made it easier when you talked to your loved one?

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Overcoming Porn Addictions: The Importance of Honesty

All addictions, including porn addictions, involve dishonesty in some form. Those addicted might lie to hide their imperfections, to ignore their problems, or to avoid the consequences of their choices. Because of this, the first step to overcoming a pornography addiction is becoming completely honest.

Alcoholics Anonymous focus on “rigorous honesty” in their 12-Step program. Psych Central explains the concept this way:

“Rigorous honesty means telling the truth when it’s easier to lie and sharing thoughts and feelings even when there may be consequences. In 12-Step recovery, the requirement is taking a fearless personal inventory and promptly admitting to dishonesty. This means catching oneself in the middle of a lie and correcting it, even if it’s embarrassing.”

Honesty involves more than just telling the truth when asked–it involves being completely open. Like in rigorous honesty, we must start by being honest with ourselves, then with others. We call our problems by their real names. We admit when we have a relapse. We confess our sins before anyone can even ask.

Once we begin to be more honest, we can look more deeply at our problems. What triggered that last relapse? How can that situation be avoided in the future?

We have to be honest about our triggers as well. This can be difficult. Sometimes, it means swallowing our pride. It may be a little embarrassing to realize that we can only use public computers, for example, but if it is a necessary step for us to overcome our addictions, we need to take it.

The LDS Addiction Recovery program tells us about the relationship between pride and honesty:

“Pride and honesty cannot coexist. Pride is an illusion and is an essential element of all addiction. Pride distorts the truth about things as they are, as they have been, and as they will be. It is a major obstacle to your recovery. As you become willing to abstain and admit the problems you face, your pride will gradually be replaced with humility.”

Finally, we need to be honest about ourselves. Porn addictions can make us feel as if we are worthless. They can make us feel hopeless. We might feel like there isn’t a point in trying, especially if we had a recent relapse. It is important to remember that we are not our addictions, that we are loved, and that we will improve with hard work and time.

What To Do If You See Pornography

Pornography has become a real problem in our society. It is readily available online, a few keystrokes away from hitting our screens, whether we mean for it to or not.

Because of this, everyone should know what to do if they encounter pornography—especially children.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prepared a video that is safe for all audiences. It explains what pornography is, why we avoid it, and what to do if you see it.

They provide three steps of action a child should take if he or she sees something pornographic.

  • Call it what it is (pornography, immodest, sexualized media, etc.)
  • Turn it off or turn away
  • Talk to your parents

A full Family Home Evening lesson on what to do if you encounter pornography can be found on overcomingpornography.org, a website created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help addicts and their families on the road to recovery.

5 Unique Tips for Overcoming Pornography

In the book He Restoreth My Soul, an anonymous man shares his story and what worked for him when overcoming his addiction to pornography. He had several inspirational insights and tips, some of which are outlined here.

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Tip #1: Boundaries

Boundaries are important for healing. According to this man, “Some examples of boundaries would be not watching TV alone, not surfing the Internet alone, not having the Internet at all, not going places that are triggering, etc. I must define my own boundaries. Any time I fall, I identify which boundary I broke leading up to that fall and move that boundary back to a more safe location, for example, changing a ‘no Internet while alone’ to ‘disconnect the Internet completely and just use it at the library.’” Learning from failures is important and more productive than feeling like you can never succeed. Instead, use these boundaries as crutches and allow healing to take place within those limits and continue moving forward (pg. 223).

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Tip #2: Reprogramming

“Not only did I need to reprogram how I thought about women and other triggers, but I had to reprogram my deeper thoughts about being worthless, needing to be perfect to be loved, etc.,” the man said. For him, that meant a list of daily statements that overcame the lies of Satan and instilled positive change (pg. 227). Others may go about this in a different way, but it is important to identify tactics that allow a change in thoughts.

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Tip #3: Habits

“Recently, I changed the location of the trash can in my cubicle at work from my right side to my left side. It had been on the right side for several years. After switching it to the other side, I spent a lot of my time turning to the right to throw away trash, realizing in frustration that the trash can was no longer there and then turning to my left to finally throw the trash away. With time and patience, I started catching myself earlier on and only started thinking about turning to the right, and finally, I now just turn to the left by habit” (pg. 227). This man goes on to explain that, just like with his trash can, trying to change addictive habits can be frustrating. It takes patience and constant vigilance, but eventually, those habits will break. Be patient and allow yourself the time to create new habits.

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Tip #4: Pray for Her

Another method this man shares is to pray for the person you lust after. “Pray for them to have a good day, to get married in the temple, to overcome the challenges they face, etc. This changes the selfish lust into giving blessings and turns the ‘object’ I’m lusting after back into a child of God who has thoughts, feelings, dreams, and who cries and is joyful just like I am,” he said (pg. 230).

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Tip #5: Take It From Me

Ask God to take the trial. “Many times I would find myself praying for God to take this addiction from me,” he said. “In my mind I would quietly and subconsciously add, ‘so that I don’t have to give it up of my own free will.’ He won’t take it from me against my will. He’ll wait until I get strong enough to give it to him of my own free will, kind of like putting it on an altar and walking away from it and then letting him burn it away” (pg. 231). Be willing to give it to the Lord.

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To find more great tips like this, buy and read the book He Restoreth My Soul by Donald L. Hilton, Jr., MD. As a final thought, read this moving and inspiring analogy from the same man who shared the above tips:

“Before I got into true recovery, I met Christ at the door and told Him that He didn’t need to come in– I made the mess, I would clean it up and someday my house would be clean enough for Him to come in without judging me and thinking I was stupid, slothful, and filthy. I sent Him away empty handed.
“Once in recovery, I opened the door to Him, and quickly handed out a gift-wrapped bag of garbage for Him to take with Him. I offered Him some surface temptations for Him to take. I made sure they were ok so He wouldn’t hate me and think I was a slob.
“Next, I finally realized I couldn’t clean up my house by myself. It was a filthy house and I was ashamed of it. Satan whispered “quick, hide’ whenever Christ came. I was done hiding and finally, with so much fear, let Him in. I showed Him around nervously just waiting for Him to start telling me how dumb I was to have let my house get so dirty and for not knowing how to clean it up. I wept inside, bracing myself for His wrath. Instead, He quietly knelt down and started cleaning, inviting me to help where I could.
“After a while of this, He was over helping me clean again, and He heard cries coming from the basement– a place I had not taken Him yet. It had barbed wire and insulation stacked as high as I could get it to keep it hidden. He said nothing– waiting for me to invite Him down there. Once He left, I went downstairs and found myself as two people sitting on the floor exhausted from one of me beating the other for years. Neither of them knew how to stop it. They both looked at each other and cried. They had had enough and in their hearts they invited Christ into the room. He walked in and quietly took the place of the one of me being beaten.
“My heart changed that day and will never be the same” (pg. 224).

We join with this man’s powerful testimony of Christ’s healing power. No matter how bad it gets, you are still a child of God and Christ will always be there to help you.

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