The following post contains excerpts from Week 4 of the Fortify Program. To find more useful tips to aid you in recovery, check out the full program.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” It’s generally used in reference to yard sales or garage sales, when someone is selling objects of seemingly minimal value. However, these items could have great value when used in the right way and the right situation. Why throw away these potentially useful items, just because their value is difficult to see at first glance?
This metaphor has powerful implications in the recovery process. Consider, for example, the time we spend awake every day. When it comes to recovery, a majority of our efforts are centered around the times that are directly before and after a trigger, but we often forget about the other hours that we spend awake. Those hidden treasures of motivation, when used properly, could provide additional strength in the recovery process.
Get this: You will have about 500 hours this month when you’re awake—and nearly 6,000 hours over the next year. No matter how stuck you’re feeling, only a small fraction of these hours are going to be directly touched by porn, right? So what are we doing with the rest of our time?
As any general will tell you, what wins a war is the time in between battles when you’re not fighting. Some of you may have days or weeks in between struggles. Others may have hours. Regardless, the question is the same: what can we do with that time?
There are all sorts of things we know are good for us—from exercise to getting unplugged to family time. But how many of us live these good things on a regular basis? One way to do that is to gradually build them into our automatic, habitual way of living—or in other words, our schedule or routine.
A lot of people have never established a daily routine. Others have only followed a schedule others have given them.
And then there are schedules that change a lot. Think back to the last time you that you kept a chaotic or unbalanced schedule - with sporadic sleep, random meals, infrequent exercise or no quiet time. Compared to a steady routine, many have found that this kind of random lifestyle can actually set them up and fuel vulnerability.
This makes sense given the research on habit formation—specifically, how strongly our many habits are tied to surrounding environmental cues and rewards that reinforce certain actions over and over again. If the only thing we changed was creating new cues or rewards in our daily schedule, it’s possible to literally engineer all sorts of habits that can move us towards freedom.
If this is true, maybe it’s time to get serious about a daily routine. Even though most of us have some kind of a schedule, it’s a whole other question whether that schedule is helping us move in the right direction.
Check out your own schedule—asking yourself whether any of the following are true for you:
- How about the “Big Three”: Food, Sleep and Exercise? How are you doing with those? As best you can, try to keep your schedule of meals, the time you go to bed, and the time you wake up fairly consistent. And of course, even a little regular physical activity can make a huge difference, too.
- Quiet Time. It seems harder and harder to find any consistent time to un-plug, disconnect or ponder. Do you prioritize things like going on a walk, reading a book or meditating?
- Connection time. What about spending time connecting with other people—outside of social media—and working on real relationships?
- Passions. It’s so helpful to find time for your passions, your talents and your hobbies – whatever they are. Too often, we set those aside as not important.
For the foreseeable future, also find regular time to mark your Battle Tracker and check in with your allies or the people you trust. Consider making the Fortify app a part of your daily schedule.
Now this doesn’t mean becoming rigid, of course. Schedules evolve as we grow and change. Have some fun as you experiment with a daily schedule that is a good fit for you.
But don’t let that stop you! Even when we struggle to be strong with pornography, we can draw strength from other habits in our life. As we become consistent in areas of our life we do have power over, our power in weaker areas can actually grow.
So play around with the routine that is just right for you. And once you’ve settled on a good schedule, try sticking with it—no matter how you feel!
It’s time to find the hidden treasures in your day. You’ve got thousands of hours ahead.
So what are you going to do with them?
Looking to get started? Check out the Fortify app, available on the App Store and Google Play.