Accept others if you want recovery from sex or porn addiction

Recovery teaches us to look at ourselves instead of trying to fix others. We can’t waste time trying to change other people, we can only change ourselves. But if we can’t fix the people around us, how can we live with them? By practicing acceptance.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous emphasizes that we cannot find serenity until we accept things and people as they are. This is hard for many of us, for many reasons.

As Christians, we often struggle to accept people who disagree with us, or who have different standards of behavior. We worry that if we accept someone just as they are, then we are endorsing their moral and spiritual choices. If we want to help them grow or change, we feel we need to withhold acceptance. But that’s not true. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When we withhold acceptance – from others or from ourselves – we create conflict and lose the opportunity to stimulate positive change.

Carl Jung said, “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

We can accept someone without approving or agreeing with what they do. The reality is that we can’t change them – or control their behavior – anyway. All we can control is our own responses to them.

Our lack of acceptance creates stress and tension in relationships. It also cuts us off from many blessings.

I had a friend from one of the SA programs who was needing more support. I recommended a certain group to him. When he attended the group, he was dismayed because some of the members had a different approach to sobriety than he did. Rather than adopt a “live and let live” approach, and seek to learn from this other program and find the help he needed, he chose to go into a critical, judgmental mode, and refused to participate in the group any longer. He couldn’t get over his disagreement with how they approached recovery – and so lost the opportunity to get support and help he really needed.

Serenity comes when we concentrate on the attitudes we need to change instead of how the world around us needs to change. When we focus on another person’s negative qualities, those qualities grow larger. So why not focus instead on the good qualities?

Our serenity will grow as we develop reasonable, appropriate expectations of others. Remember that everyone is a work in progress. No one is perfect.  Can we accept them – and ourselves – even in the midst of that imperfection?

* This is a post that I wrote a couple years ago, but I changed the date recently to get it back on the front page. Hope you like — and comment!

5 thoughts on “Accept others if you want recovery from sex or porn addiction

  1. Raman

    Thanks for the shares, throws a lot of light on issues I am facing.

    At age 49 and being clean for 22 plus years, im now content to not hunt for female sexual partners. I have been celibate for a about 19 months now and am quite serene about it.

    The thing that has worried me no end is my habits from the past, the mental habits that keep referring back to pornographic sex I saw on videp and took as benchmarks for my own sexual activities.

    Im slowly letting all of that go and Meditation is keeping me Serene inspite of changes.

    Hope someone else can share a bit on recovering from porn…

    Thanks and God Bless !!!

    Reply
  2. Paul

    Thank you Mark for that reminder. I didn’t realize how critical acceptance was for my recovery journey, but it has been. Especially when I was driving myself into anxiety trying to control people’s decisions that I considered insane. Surrender and acceptance go hand in hand. My biggest challenge is learning to continue to accept the “crazy-makers” (as you referred to in your previous article) while maintaining healty boundaries. Not so easy when I have co-dependency issues as well. Any thought?

    Reply
  3. Mark Post author

    Thanks for the great comments.

    Raman – wow way to go on the sobriety! I completely agree with you about meditation … doing something every day (recovery reading and meditation) has been essential in my journey as well.

    Paul – when I teach at workshops about this, and work with guys in coaching settings, I think people are surprised to discover how important acceptance is. And your comment about the challenge of maintaining healthy boundaries while at the same time dealing with codependence is right on track: it is NOT easy. In essence, that becomes one of the most important aspects of recovery for many people. Addiction writing has focused for years on the spouse of the addict as the “codependent,” but my mentor Mark Laaser says that he has yet to meet a married sex addict who was NOT codependent himself! We all struggle with this in our marriages and to varying degrees in other relationships too. I think the key is to identify this as an issue to work on, and focusing effort with your sponsor and/or therapist as the months and years of recovery go by.

    – Mark

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*