10-emotions-trigger-a-relapse-pt-1As a man recovering from addiction, one of your biggest goals in life is most likely this: Stay Strong; Stay Sober. This is a good goal to have, but each year brings new challenges in keeping it. Here are the first five of ten things that may affect our will to stay strong and sober (and five ways to respond to them):

1. Boredom: This is listed first because it’s a big one. Truth is that when the mind of the addict wanders, it goes to places with which its familiar–and those can be places we want to avoid.

Response: Catch your wandering mind before it spirals. For me, this involves reciting scripture or praying. For others, maybe it’s thinking of a song or reflecting on their days. The mind is a beautiful thing; don’t let it get dull and defenseless.

2. Envy: A new year brings new things–usually good things–to those around us. We humans have a tendency toward comparing our lives to others’, and when others’ lives seem to be going better, we can open a doorway to feeling a sense of self-indulgence. We can convince ourselves that we deserve something since another person seems to have everything.

Response: Practice gratitude, not only for what YOU have but for what THEY have. When you see another person whose life you resent, strive to be happy for them.

3. Self-pity: Life is hard on its own; adding recovery compounds the difficulty. We may have days feeling sorry for ourselves, and in these days we may want to quit because we don’t see ourselves as fighters or as winners.

Response: Recalibrate your outlook. You are a not hopeless addict; you are a human being seeking positive sexual health. (Tweet This!) Seeing yourself in the latter role will allow you to view your recovery as a goal to attain, not a hardship to endure.

4. Sudden Lust: The rampant sexuality of humankind becomes more and more pervasive with each passing year; images or concepts that can trigger the urge to run to old haunts will come toward us from all directions and when we least expect.

Response: Avoid triggers as you are able (perhaps cut certain TV programs, films, or websites from your life) and develop the discipline of immediately moving your eyes to a new point of focus when a sexual temptation arrives. A good Internet filter like X3watch Premium is highly recommended.

5. Anger: When we get angry with others or ourselves, we make rash decisions, and sometimes they result in returning to behavior we think will calm us, level us out, or give us the release we need for our frustrations.

Response: Intentionally deal with anger in healthy ways— write, exercise, pray, even scream into a pillow, but whatever you do, avoid the temptation to subdue the anger through porn and masturbation.

The final five triggers–and ways you can respond to them are covered in Part 2.

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