Annual Reflection - Make Changes That Last 2019

Annual Reflection - Make Changes That Last 2019

Today I want to help you make changes that last.  Key to that is REFLECTION.

Having said that for those in recovery reflecting on the year (let alone the last week!) can feel daunting.  

"Aren't I just gonna see what a failure I have been?  How things never change?  How I've hurt myself and others?"

Others of you might say "Isn't that the point of my acting out behavior: to not look at myself!?  Why are you asking me to reflect on my year?"  

Whether you are helping people in recovery or in recovery yourself REFLECTION is medicine for the tired, wounded and broken soul.  

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Look Up

So many people I talk to say that porn and sexual acting out is a way to escape.  It's a way to feel alive for a moment.  It's a way to feel immersed.  It may start with surfing but the pull is like gravity and before you know it there's a site that leads to another site that leads to another site that leads to acting out.  

Look up is a brilliant video that poetically confronts how we relate to our smartphones.     

It highlights how the FOO (fear of missing out) compulsivity may cause us to miss out big time on what matters. 

Lots of meaningful interactions can happen through Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat (just kidding about Snapchat!).  But, let this video sink in.  I wonder how you can apply this video in one way so that you don't miss out on life's most exciting, most amazing experiences.

 

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO  (4 min)


Alex Lerza

My goal as a therapist, speaker and writer is to help people experience the gift of sexual and relational wholeness. Currently I work at Christian Counseling Center in San Jose as a Marriage Family Therapist, Intern. Though I come from a place of faith I have treated clients from all creeds and orientations. I completed my Master's degree from Santa Clara University in 2012. Because I felt called to the area of sexual wholeness I became an Associate Sex Addiction Therapist in 2013. However, I quickly learned that trauma is the cause for a significant amount of sexual and relational brokenness so I also became certified in two trauma-reduction therapies--Affect Management Skills Training and Affect Centered Therapy (similar to EMDR). PSYCHOTHERAPIST. Trauma and Sexual Addiction. One of my passions is to help people break free from sexual addiction and heal from trauma. With hundreds of hours of training in trauma and sexual addiction, I provide clients a clear path out of addiction so that they may enjoy healthier relationships and lead more focused lives. Couples. I love helping couples discover the gift of a healthy marriage. I excel at teaching couples how to communicate, how to heal from betrayal and how to deepen their level of passion and intimacy. Teens. Being a teen is tough. I enjoy helping teens who struggle to connect with peers, have questions about identity or want to kick a pornography addiction. I also run a 10 week program for teen guys looking for a band of brothers and accountability with sexual compulsivity. Individuals. I believe that everyone has something to offer the world that no one else can. I hate to see depression or anxiety limit a person's ability to make their special offering come alive. I offer clients the compassion, tools and strategies they need to make their mark and fulfill their personal vision.

Annual Reflection - Make Changes That Last

Annual Reflection - Make Changes That Last

Today I want to help you make changes that last.  Key to that is REFLECTION.

Having said that for those in recovery reflecting on the year (let alone the last week!) can feel daunting.  

"Aren't I just gonna see what a failure I have been?  How things never change?  How I've hurt myself and others?"

Others of you might say "Isn't that the point of my acting out behavior: to not look at myself!?  Why are you asking me to reflect on my year?"  

Whether you are helping people in recovery or in recovery yourself REFLECTION is medicine for the tired, wounded and broken soul.  

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A Cool Way to Help Kids Understand Addiction

This deceptively cute video (5min) illustrates how addiction works.  If you are a parent, teacher, counselor or spiritual leader take a moment to watch the video and think about the kids it would work for.  I think it can act as a powerful teaching tool for kids 4 to 10 yrs old.  

I would recommend if you show it to the kids in your life that you use an inductive approach.  Ask them open-ended questions like: "what happened when the bird first tried the nugget?  what about the 2nd and 3rd time? what happened at the end?"  

Then, once the kids describe it all, ask them how it made them feel?  Then, you can talk about how there are things in the world that can bring great "darkness" into their lives.  In age appropriate ways I would list what those things could be.  "A nugget could be an image on the internet, something you drink, something you smoke..."  

So, when do you think you will show this to your kids?  Set a time now while you are thinking about it.  It could make a huge difference.


Alex Lerza

My goal as a therapist, speaker and writer is to help people experience the gift of sexual and relational wholeness. Currently I work at Christian Counseling Center in San Jose as a Marriage Family Therapist, Intern. Though I come from a place of faith I have treated clients from all creeds and orientations. I completed my Master's degree from Santa Clara University in 2012. Because I felt called to the area of sexual wholeness I became an Associate Sex Addiction Therapist in 2013. However, I quickly learned that trauma is the cause for a significant amount of sexual and relational brokenness so I also became certified in two trauma-reduction therapies--Affect Management Skills Training and Affect Centered Therapy (similar to EMDR). PSYCHOTHERAPIST. Trauma and Sexual Addiction. One of my passions is to help people break free from sexual addiction and heal from trauma. With hundreds of hours of training in trauma and sexual addiction, I provide clients a clear path out of addiction so that they may enjoy healthier relationships and lead more focused lives. Couples. I love helping couples discover the gift of a healthy marriage. I excel at teaching couples how to communicate, how to heal from betrayal and how to deepen their level of passion and intimacy. Teens. Being a teen is tough. I enjoy helping teens who struggle to connect with peers, have questions about identity or want to kick a pornography addiction. I also run a 10 week program for teen guys looking for a band of brothers and accountability with sexual compulsivity. Individuals. I believe that everyone has something to offer the world that no one else can. I hate to see depression or anxiety limit a person's ability to make their special offering come alive. I offer clients the compassion, tools and strategies they need to make their mark and fulfill their personal vision.

Porn Kills Healthy Sex; Healthy Sex Kills Porn

Porn Kills Healthy Sex; Healthy Sex Kills Porn

 Last week I wrote about the 22 differences between porn-related sex and healthy sex.   

      This week I delve more deeply into the top 3 differences.  I also include a former porn star's inspiring story.  Now, onto how porn kills healthy sex and how healthy sex kills porn.  

     A famous teacher once said that if you have two bosses you are going to hate one and love the other.  Basically, you are going to have to choose which boss you are going to follow or comply with.  You can't make both bosses happy.   Being loyal to one means upsetting the other and vice versa.  Some of you may even have bossws, teachers or even parents that have competing agendas.  And, I'm sure the tug-of-war drives you nuts.  It's an illustration that sometimes in life two paths are incompatible.  To gain one you have to give up the other.      

     There's a similar dynamic when it comes to pornography and a healthy sexuality.  If you choose porn then you give up a healthy sexuality and vice versa.  Pornography pulls you away from healthy sexuality and healthy sexuality can pull you away from pornography.  The main issue is that we are influenced by what we watch especially when you add an orgasm into the mix.  Our brain is able to change and it adapts itself based on rewards.  If sex to your brain = isolated porn and masturbation, experiences outside of that will not "feel right."  For some guys this means erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation when it comes to having sex with a real person.  Rewiring your brain to a healthy sexuality requires an intentional process and is not easily done.  (For more on that you can go HERE.)  

     For many guys whose first sexual experience was pornography the idea of "healthy sexuality" may seem completely foreign.  Let me break down some of the major differences between a healthy sexuality and a porn sexuality.

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22 Differences Between Healthy Sex and Porn

22 Differences Between Healthy Sex and Porn

     Sometimes it can be hard to pin-down why pornography can be harmful to a healthy sexuality.  I am grateful to share a poster made by healthysex.com (with permission) that lays out 22 differences between healthy sex and pornography.  

     As you look at this list do you see ways your sexuality has been influenced by the porn industry?  Don't be surprised if you do.  The three "A's" of porn--accessibility, affordability and anonymity--have caused a "pornification" to happen to our culture.  This is especially true for youth whose sex education often comes by-way-of pornography.  In my next post I will delve more deeply into a few of these differences.

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The Definition of Resilience

NEVER. GIVE. UP.  

That's what I learned from the biographical Unbroken.    It's the story about Louis Zamperrini a hellion of a child and a menace to society through his early adolescence.  It's the story of an unforeseen Olympian who overcame all odds of survival in WW II and even the fallout of incredible trauma and addiction.  

INSPIRATION

If you are in need of inspiration in your life right now read this book.  It is the most inspirational book I have ever read.  Not kidding.  

THAT'S REAL

If there weren't eye witnesses it would be deemed fiction.  For, it is too amazing to be considered real.  It is utterly fantastical.  

THAT'S ACCESSIBLE

Yet, for as unbelievable as the events are one does not shrug and say "I could never do that."  There is not a distancing that can usually occur with heroes who seem so other-worldly.  There is something about Zamperini that is accessible.  When reading about his life you hear an invitation and a desire to be like him.  You WANT to be like this guy.  You want to honor his life.  You want to never give up.

A PARABLE FOR RECOVERY

This is the perfect book for those in recovery.  

What most sex addicts and addicts in general suffer from is hopelessness:

"It will never get better."

"Things will never change."

"I'll always be stuck in my addiction."

"I'll always be this way."

Addicts feel the odds are stacked against them and that there is no use in trying.  After being beaten down numerous times by the disease the invitation to despair is alluring.    

Never Give Up.  It sounds cliché.   But, it will feel far from cliché after reading Unbroken.  Louis' life will give new meaning to those words.  

Enjoy. 

  

  

Alex Lerza

My goal as a therapist, speaker and writer is to help people experience the gift of sexual and relational wholeness. Currently I work at Christian Counseling Center in San Jose as a Marriage Family Therapist, Intern. Though I come from a place of faith I have treated clients from all creeds and orientations. I completed my Master's degree from Santa Clara University in 2012. Because I felt called to the area of sexual wholeness I became an Associate Sex Addiction Therapist in 2013. However, I quickly learned that trauma is the cause for a significant amount of sexual and relational brokenness so I also became certified in two trauma-reduction therapies--Affect Management Skills Training and Affect Centered Therapy (similar to EMDR). PSYCHOTHERAPIST. Trauma and Sexual Addiction. One of my passions is to help people break free from sexual addiction and heal from trauma. With hundreds of hours of training in trauma and sexual addiction, I provide clients a clear path out of addiction so that they may enjoy healthier relationships and lead more focused lives. Couples. I love helping couples discover the gift of a healthy marriage. I excel at teaching couples how to communicate, how to heal from betrayal and how to deepen their level of passion and intimacy. Teens. Being a teen is tough. I enjoy helping teens who struggle to connect with peers, have questions about identity or want to kick a pornography addiction. I also run a 10 week program for teen guys looking for a band of brothers and accountability with sexual compulsivity. Individuals. I believe that everyone has something to offer the world that no one else can. I hate to see depression or anxiety limit a person's ability to make their special offering come alive. I offer clients the compassion, tools and strategies they need to make their mark and fulfill their personal vision.

Teens, Sex and Technology

The radio interview I did last week was packed with great questions from the host Carol the Coach.  Below are the questions we discussed.  To listen or download the interview you can go HERE.  The interview starts about 15 minutes in.

What led you to want to work with teens who are addicted to pornography?

How does pornography impact an adolescent brain differently than an adult brain?

How can pornography be harmful to developing a healthy sexuality?

What is a healthy sexuality?

What should parents understand?

Carol the Coach

Carol the Coach

How should parents respond if they discover their teen is using online pornography?

What practically should a parent do if their teen is viewing online pornography?

How can parents with younger children discourage pornography use?

What can the recovery community do to help teens?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sexhelpwithcarolthecoach/2014/06/17/porn-addiction-and-teens-with-carol-the-coach

Are there people who would be helped by this podcast?  Feel free to share it.  If this podcast has helped you let me know by "liking" it.

 

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Alex Lerza

My goal as a therapist, speaker and writer is to help people experience the gift of sexual and relational wholeness. Currently I work at Christian Counseling Center in San Jose as a Marriage Family Therapist, Intern. Though I come from a place of faith I have treated clients from all creeds and orientations. I completed my Master's degree from Santa Clara University in 2012. Because I felt called to the area of sexual wholeness I became an Associate Sex Addiction Therapist in 2013. However, I quickly learned that trauma is the cause for a significant amount of sexual and relational brokenness so I also became certified in two trauma-reduction therapies--Affect Management Skills Training and Affect Centered Therapy (similar to EMDR). PSYCHOTHERAPIST. Trauma and Sexual Addiction. One of my passions is to help people break free from sexual addiction and heal from trauma. With hundreds of hours of training in trauma and sexual addiction, I provide clients a clear path out of addiction so that they may enjoy healthier relationships and lead more focused lives. Couples. I love helping couples discover the gift of a healthy marriage. I excel at teaching couples how to communicate, how to heal from betrayal and how to deepen their level of passion and intimacy. Teens. Being a teen is tough. I enjoy helping teens who struggle to connect with peers, have questions about identity or want to kick a pornography addiction. I also run a 10 week program for teen guys looking for a band of brothers and accountability with sexual compulsivity. Individuals. I believe that everyone has something to offer the world that no one else can. I hate to see depression or anxiety limit a person's ability to make their special offering come alive. I offer clients the compassion, tools and strategies they need to make their mark and fulfill their personal vision.

Radio Interview Tonight- Join Me!

Radio Interview Tonight- Join Me!

Tonight at 6:30pm I will talk about TEENS, SEX and TECH with Carol the Coach. You can join the show too and ask me about anything related to sex addiction, parenting or technology.

The show is pretty popular with 130,000 downloads/week from an international audience.  

Here is the info for calling in:

(646) 595-3284

We'll be taking calls starting around 6:30pm PST.  

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Life of the Beloved

Life of the Beloved

Life of the Beloved is probably my favorite book when it comes to recovery and healing.  Most of us who feel broken do so because at the root of our soul is a feeling that we don't belong.  Betrayal, neglect and all forms of abuse embed in our hearts and whisper the message "you are worthless."  It's this bitter root that drains life and which so many try to numb with any and all possible means--sex, food, drugs, power.  

But, we can be creatively life-giving as much as we are creatively life-destroying.  

Nouwen convinces us that deeper than the bitter root is the message "You are the Beloved."  That we belong to Someone very special indeed.  And, it's his voice we should listen to above all others.   

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How Meditation Increases Grey Matter in the Brain

How Meditation Increases Grey Matter in the Brain

When I was growing up (which was not that long ago) we were taught that once your brain was done growing it couldn't really grow anymore.  Now we know that's not actually true.  

Neuroplasticity.  That's the fancy word for "your brain can grow and change."

A really cool discovery is that mindfulness-meditation can grow and change your brain.  And not only that, it can grow and change your brain in some pretty important ways.

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Masturbation: Is it Healthy?

Masturbation: Is it Healthy?

So, is masturbation ok?  Can it be healthy?  

Some of you may be wondering why I am even asking the question because you are thinking the answer is "NO!".  And, some of you may be wondering because you think "OF COURSE!" 

It depends.  It depends.  It depends.  

It depends if you are in recovery from sexual addiction.  It depends on your spouses' opinion.  It depends upon your spiritual view regarding lust--unless you masturbate without fantasy, in which case I say...bravo?       

Here are three questions that can help you reflect on it more deeply:

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Three Ingredients to Effective Accountability

Three Ingredients to Effective Accountability

Dude #1: "I messed up the other day, ummm actually yeah it was today..."

Dude #2: "yeah me too...i'm kinda feelin down about it"

Dude #3: "yeah, so...it was a bad week for me too, so see you next week?"

If you have ever been in this sort of accountability group for a lust problem or porn addiction you know that it can seem like "what's the point?"  It can especially feel this way if it's the same routine every week.  Over time members of such a group get discouraged and in the end can withdraw feeling defeated.  They tell themselves "well, I tried the whole accountability thing but it didn't really work."  Like most worthy endeavors in life learning how to be an effective accountability partner is a skill.  Skills require an intentional process of learning, practicing and coaching to develop.  So, how do you get skilled?

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Unlock Addiction - Know Your Triggers

Unlock Addiction - Know Your Triggers

Guess what's in the safe?

I don't know but doesn't it make you want to press your face against the cold steel and listen for whatever safe-thieves listen for?

Riddles are fun until they keep you from getting something you really want and need.

One of my friends once locked his laptop to a desk and completely forgot the 4-number combination to unlock it.  He had to give a big presentation in about 4 hours and it was back in the day when thumb drives weren't around.  

Sweat started to pool on his brow.  The creases in his forehead deepened.  With chin in hand he puzzled over the riddle that faced him.

How the heck was he going to get this laptop where it needed to be in a few hours?

Go to a hardware store and by a bolt cutter?  Nope.  The lock is connected to the hardware of the laptop.  

Call the manufacturer of the lock to see if there's a way to open it without the combo?  Maybe.  Probably an unlikely fix.

Just leave it there and wing it.  Nope.  Too much detail to remember.

Aha!  Then, the difficult answer came.  But, it wasn't a "yes!" aha but a "oh, crap!" aha.  My friend realized that the best option would be for him to manually go through each number.  With 10,000 combination options at 3 seconds per combination tried, well that's at least 8 hours of trying.  But, he thought on average the number isn't going to be at the end so he could probably find it in 4 hours, maybe less if he's lucky.  

Still..."CRAP!"  

0001, 0002, 0003...0923, 0924, 0925...1109, 1110, 1111...

Then..."click" it opens!  

Why am I telling you this story?  Because addiction is a riddle.  Addiction is a laptop locked to a desk and time (read: life) is running out.  

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Interrupting Addiction

Interrupting Addiction

"How did I get here?"  Have you ever said that to yourself when walking or driving somewhere?  It's an experience that many people have.  They get in the their car or start walking somewhere, look up and realized they have just arrived.

Minutes or even hours have passed.  Yet, it feels like barely a minute has gone by.  

Often you aren't aware of the state of mind you are in until the exit sign or destination jars you from your trance.  The brain has a way of creating a trance like state that makes it feel like we teleport through time and space.  

Pornography addiction (like all addictions) can also create a similar trance where the addict, after acting out, asks themselves "how did I get here?"  One minute they were working on something and the next they are acting out, not even noticing at which point they slipped into the trance. 

In the beginning of recovery from sex and pornography addiction it seems like acting out 'just happens.'  It's as if the sex addict drives past the "this is not a good idea" exit and plows into the center divider, or drives into a ditch.  Rather than at the "exit sign" the addict only breaks out of their trance once the damage has been done.  The damage in this case being STD's, divorce, financial ruin, getting fired from a job, intense shame--just to name a few.  

There is a way to slow down the process and see the events, emotions, thoughts and decisions that lead to the moment of acting out.  One way of slowing down the process is to learn about your "triggers."  Triggers are often responsible for firing the addict into a trance-like state that leads to acting out.  By learning your triggers you can interrupt addiction.    

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