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NOW GO BE AWESOME! You're amped up and everyone is cheering around you. It's a great collective feeling, similar to screaming for your favorite band or watching your favorite sports team win the game. The energy is palpable. You can feel it in the air. You walk away feeling like a champ! It's only for a brief moment, though. So, after that rip-roaring Sunday sermon to radically transform your world, you get out of the auditorium and head to the car. In this way it is similar to recovery from compulsive overeating. Sexuality is a part of one's natural human state, as is the need to fuel one's body with food. People in recovery from eating disorders, specifically compulsive overeating, avoid eating certain foods. They learn to eat for the nutritional value of the food rather than eating out of boredom or to anesthetize anger or pain or other feelings. Ultimately, they develop a whole new relationship with the role of food in their life. In recovery, the sex addict also develops a whole new relationship with the role sex plays in his life. There will be certain behaviors he will no longer engage in. The act of sex will be for the experience, for the sharing of sexual pleasure, and for relational connection rather than out of his emotional reactivity and woundedness or for the sake of garnering power and control. He'll learn how to identify and voice his needs and feelings and to honor those of others, creating greater emotional and sexual intimacy. The recovering sex addict will develop boundaries that are based on respect for self and others. In terms of skill level, they were just crushing all of us. Nobody in Newport Beach would even think of paddling out with a board like that and, if they did, it'd be useless because they're used to this light, maneuverable one.

This reminded me that it's you that determines your performance, not the latest gear. Just use what you have available. Why So Serious? When did all the enjoyment drain out of our physical practices? I'd argue that it was when we became obsessed with trying to quantify every minute detail. Perhaps this is related to how nuts we are for numbers in the sports we watch, wanting to know every baseball player's RBI, every basketball player's field goal percentage, and every quarterback's accuracy rating. Some people might enjoy the math part of examining all those statistics, but to me it takes the pleasure out of sports. The same is true of the activities we participate in. You're still feeling awesome and you're chatting with your wife about how good today's service was. Suddenly, as you drive back home, someone cuts you off on the road and a curse word slips out. Your kids are in the back and they ask you, What does fuck mean? You explain that it's a naughty word and you shouldn't say it. Ugh, that's not a good moment for your parenting. Then, you think about your day and realize that it's your cousin's birthday party today and you didn't want to go. You have to go, though, because he would notice and things would get awkward. YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN HIM A GIFT! It's time to run to Target. You pick up impulse groceries and some stupid gift and head back home. Whether the addiction is food, gambling, substances, or sex, all addicts in recovery learn how to identify their triggers and how to avoid them or not react in self-defeating ways. While all addicts need to develop greater emotional and relational skills to create healthier ways of getting their personal and interpersonal needs met, recovery for the sex addict is about learning how to get those needs met in a nonsexual way and addressing the issues that created barriers to healthy intimacy.

Why Am I Not Enough? It is my hope that in better understanding the addictive nature of sexual compulsivity you will be able to answer the age-old question: Why am I not enough? Wives and partners often wonder why sex with them, and only them, is not sufficient for the sex addict. It's important to know that when the addict is in the throes of his addiction, he doesn't have sex with you to forge a connection and develop intimacy. He's doing it with you to keep up his pretenses, to reinforce your falsely held and unspoken belief that if he has sex with you then he isn't seeking it outside of your coupleship. Or you may simply be an element of his stash and part of his addictive cycle. In the act of his addiction--in the immediate moment--he may feel complete, whole, and good. But that feeling disappears once the activity is over, and he will go out and seek that feeling, as fleeting as it is, again and again. Once you start using gadgets to record and quantify your performance, those stats can easily become the focal point. This not only is distracting but also robs you of the full experience that you can only have when you're totally focused on and committed to something that you love doing. Duke University professor Jordan Etkin wrote in a paper entitled The Hidden Cost of Personal Quantification, Let's say you like walking for fun. It's a relaxing, enjoyable activity, and you don't really have any other reason to do it. You just like it. When you start to track behaviors like that, it basically provides an external incentive for engaging in those other fun activities. And so you start to think more about how much you're doing, rather than just focusing on the enjoyment of the activity. It takes something that's fun and makes it more like work. If it's gotten to the point that your favorite sport feels like a chore or burden, whether that's because you've allowed a technology takeover or for any other reason, why the heck are you still doing it? Go find something new and fresh and see if it can reinvigorate you. As you finally arrive home, you turn on some Sunday football to kick back and relax. You probably took a nap and your wife woke you up to get ready for the birthday party you don't care about.

Then, you innocently check your email and realize that you didn't respond to an important one from work. You need to say something intelligent before Monday morning rolls around. It's also about that one client who's constantly on your ass about unimportant matters, so you really don't want to respond. Now that you're thinking about emails, you think about Monday morning and all the stresses that come with it. Suddenly, in the span of just a couple hours, life got incredibly normal again. The inspiring message to go and change your world is long gone. What happened to that motivation? What just happened, happens every Sunday morning for a majority of the church-going population. I like having sex with my partner. She participates willingly and I find her attractive. I know she tries hard to please me. So why isn't that enough for me? All I can say is that my addiction isn't just about sex. There is this self-hate part of me that I try so hard to never show my wife. But when that self-hate gets triggered, and it is always there waiting to be triggered, that is when I act out. I have sex with women I don't know so I don't worry about displeasing them, nor do I have to be respectful to their needs. I also engage in totally different sexual acts that I would never ask my wife to engage in. My twisted thoughts about power, pain, and anger all come into play during my acting out. Then come back to the original pursuit without any tech attached and see if you can learn to enjoy it again for its own sake. Finding Equilibrium

Laird Hamilton is one of the most balanced people I know. When I asked him how being outside most of the day every day helps him maintain this, he said: If you took someone who's indoors a lot of the time and got them into a routine of being outdoors more, their body chemistry and all of their functions would completely change. On a consciousness level, it would bring a kind of equilibrium. I have a friend who's a famous basketball player, and I often tell him that when you're in a giant building with fifty thousand people screaming that they either love or hate you it's going to take a toll. The more you're in that kind of setting, the more you'd better go out and find a big tree somewhere and sit under it alone to counteract all of that other stuff. It's like a battery--you have the negative pull and the positive one. We have an indoor and outdoor pull. It also happens to everyone who attends a lively business conference. It happens to people who watch an impactful movie at the theater or finish reading a deep and meaningful article (like this one). It's a key warning that's given to Christians in the Bible, but can also be applied to any well-meaning individual. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. What just happened is you heard a great message to go and make an impact, with no roadmap on how to actually do it. It's not entirely your fault. Most messages from a pulpit or a stage aren't very practical. You weren't clearly told what to do in order to solve the world's problems or change your life. You were given a vague concept that sounded great, but doesn't give you any serious tools to work with. So, even if you did try to figure out how to make an impact, you wouldn't get very far. I am just into me, me, me, totally me. The addict's feelings of shame, fear, and inadequacies are a bottomless pit.