Two keys to letting go of misery and finding joy in recovery from sex addiction

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We may have learned how to be miserable, but we can choose to unlearn. We can moan about the things we don’t like, using them as excuses for self-pity (“poor me”), or we can implement the Serenity Prayer, accepting what we can’t change and changing what we can.

1. Changing what we can

If we are feeling misery about some condition in our lives, the obvious first step is to think of things that we can do to change that condition. What are the things that are within our power to do? There’s no sense being miserable with hunger when there is food available in the next room.

As Judith Smith says, “Surrender does not mean giving up when I need to be persistent; it means letting go of that which I can’t change. Surrender doesn’t mean I stop trying; it means I try, and then I surrender to the outcome.”

When we’re hurting, we can usually do something about it. A physical hurt may require a doctor; an emotional pain may call for a therapist or friend, and spiritual distress may indicate the need for closer contact with God through prayer and meditation.

We can accept responsibility for our feelings, become willing to go to any lengths to get well, and fix the things in our lives that are fixable.

But what do we do when things aren’t “fixable”? How do we unlearn being miserable in the midst of difficult circumstances?

2. Changing how we see

We let go of our misery by changing how we see. Many things that happen to us are outside our control, but we can determine how we interpret and react to what happens.

It is not simply the contents of our lives that determine our inner peace and happiness, but how we see those contents. My friend Deb Laaser often talks about the “meanings we make of things.” Often a shift in perspective – in the “meanings we are making of things” – is worth more than changing our circumstances.
When we see what is outside of us as determining our happiness, we enter into a control battle with the people, places and things that fill our lives. Moving these around will not necessarily make us more happy.

Let’s think of some examples: What if, instead of obsessing about what the people in my church are thinking about me and my addiction, I let go of my need to impress them? What if, instead of trying to get my spouse to be more supportive of my efforts in recovery, I surrender that and focus instead on other (safe) people who are supporting and encouraging me? What if, instead of pushing to get my boss to adopt my way of thinking about an issue, I let it go and work instead on my attitude towards my boss?

In other words: What if the solution to my misery isn’t found in the people in my church, or my spouse, or my boss? Wouldn’t that be liberating? Who knows, maybe the awkwardness of my church relationships is what I need to help me overcome my co-dependence. Maybe my spouse’s lack of support is necessary to help me own recovery for myself, instead of doing it to please him/her. Maybe my struggles with my boss are helping me face character defects that I would never face otherwise.

We need to examine the way we are seeing things. Do we need to change our circumstances or the way we are seeing our circumstances?

If we can change our circumstances, it’s time to stop being miserable and start taking action. And if we can’t change our circumstances, it’s time change our thinking.

6 thoughts on “Two keys to letting go of misery and finding joy in recovery from sex addiction”

  1. Read this comment carefully – it’s not on topic it’s just a little something to give you a smile and say thanks for your hard work on this blog!

    Don’t be humble, you’re not that great. 🙂

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