We rarely take an empathetic attitude towards ourselves not matter what the issue is.
It’s human nature to demand more of ourselves than anyone else would have the right to demand.
But that often leads to a lot of self-hatred and putting ourselves down when relapses happen, which is downright harmful.
Fuck it! I might as well…
The “fuck it” effect is what leads to binging. Since you relapsed already, might as well go all in right? This is wrong of course, but addicts are not known for their logic.
Beating yourself down after relapses makes you feel like shit.
That in turn gives even more reasons for binging.
Relapses don’t exactly make you happy in the first place, but hating yourself for the mistake puts you even further into a negative emotional state.
Now where could you possibly get the maximum amount of instant gratification to drown out feeling bad?
And so the cycle continues.
One relapse probably won’t set you back to where you started, but binging certainly will. And binges turn into multiple-day relapses more easily due to the hightened sense of fucking up that follows them.
For long-term recovery, it is vital to minimize both binges and relapses. Nerves that fire together wire together, but the opposite is also true.
All or nothing
This type of streak glorification also really enforces the “all or nothing” mentality, which is the opposite of being process oriented.
Nobody can get the perfect approach to recovery from the get-go, which is why it is so important to perfect the process over time.
But overblowing the issue out of proportion hardly puts you in a steady reflective mindset.
You won’t be able to see the situation clearly from all angles, which is vital to prevent relapses from happening in the future.
But having empathy towards ourselves does not mean that we allow ourselves to relapse in the first place.
Self-love goes both ways. Not only does it mean to consider yourself a non-perfect entity, but to demand better form yourself. Much of love is setting boundaries, especially onto yourself.
Your parents loved you dearly, so they set boundaries for you. Sometimes they were annoying or downright uncomfortable, but you would be far more screwed up without them.
Welcome to adulthood. Now you have to enforce those same kind of boundaries on yourself.
The best friend approach
As I mentioned in a previous post, the key idea is to act towards yourself exactly as towards a best friend.
Call yourself out on the bullshit, but celebrate the victories. Demand your best, but give an sympathetic pat of the back when things do not go right.
To take it further, you can even focus on the relapse being a good thing.
The positive side of any stumble is the learning opportunity it provides. It gives a clear point of improvement to focus on.
Even Thomas Edison focused solely on the positive. After failing over and over again, he merely focused on how many ways he had invented not to make a lightbulb. That allowed him to keep going and finally reach success.
There aren’t endless ways to fail in your recovery. Every mistake you take heed of gets you closer to the end goal.
All those mistakes aren’t you being a piece of shit, they are part of the journey.
The key distinction between a successful rebooter and the perpetual hardcase is that the successor adjusts his approach.
The solution: Stoic disengagement
While each of us yearns for a successful recovery, it is vital to take a step back from the currently painful reality.
Seeing the forest for the trees is necessary for a calculated and process oriented approach, which is what will bring long-term success despite setbacks that will likely occur.
For that to happen, setbacks must be approach with a rather stoic mindset.
I am not saying to stuff your feelings. Most of us have been accomplishing that with porn for a long time, and it is far from helpful.
Feel everything that you are feeling, the anger, the sadness, the hopelessness. Whatever it is that rises up, delve into it and fully feel it.
But don’t let it dictate your actions. Do not engage with it.
Immerse yourself in the feelings, but then take the measured approach. Prevent binging and reflect on your current plan of approach.
The latter can also be done later when you are in a more calm state of mind, but prevent binges where they happen: in the moment.
- Approach your recovery as a process to be perfected
- If you relapse, do not let your negative emotions cause self-sabotaging actions
- Once in a calm state of mind, reflect and improve upon your current plan of action