Deceptive Brain Messages
"I feel so completely ignored, attacked, criticized, lonely, abandoned and am hurting I need to find relief or I am going to lose it!". This is a common message we can get that will lead us to a level of desperation we can't seem to ignore it or make it go away other than through watching pornography or some other unhealthy and unwanted sexual behavior. This is what is a common feeling when dealing with a core emotional trigger.
In his book Going Deeper, Dr Capparucci lays out two techniques to combat and arrest these overwhelming feelings. First and foremost be aware of your own levels of distress. Throughout the day check in to see if you are emotionally (angry, stressed, frustrated), mentally (financial or work distress), spiritually (not in study, fellowship or the word), or physical (tired, feeling over weight, ache and pains, health issues). Any of these can be an early warning sign. Learn to check in, journal, talk others daily about life's stressors.
The second aspect is building emotional resilience when core emotional triggers arise, the following illustrates the recommended steps.
In his book 'Going Deeper', Dr Capparucci describes core emotional triggers which are those emotional sensations, urges or pain points that cause the greatest amount of discomfort. A few examples are feelings of being ignored, lonely, abandoned, unheard, dismissed, criticized, unworthy. They create such inner turmoil that you feel like your insides are going to explode and can be the tipping point(s) for escaping to unhealthy and destructive behaviors like porn, alcohol or drugs.
Each individual adopts different ways to cope, and these emotions are a key part of turning away from the urges and towards a healthy thought, activity or behavior. Going Deeper describes an approach of how to begin to uncover these triggers. First complete this survey of possible triggers, then identify those that you scored highest. Begin to journal about those feelings you rated highest; where they show up most often, who or what are the activators (e.g. 'I feel so invisible at work', 'I feel completely unseen by my spouse', 'my parents make me feel so belittled').
The next step is to explore the profile of your inner child. Dr Capparucci has developed a profile of 9 little boys that are the most common. Review the list below and see which are most familiar. Journal about your thoughts and possibly come up with your own.
Emotionally voided child
Lack of control child
Sexually stimulated or abused child
Weak inferior child
Religiously abused an confused
The next step is to begin to learn how to manage the triggers as they arise in daily life. There is no getting away from stress, distress, emotional pain and discomfort in our fallen world, and these steps will help you address those most troubling issues when they arise. Click here for the discussion on the six steps to managing your core emotional triggers.
Equipping - Understanding the Why
It is especially important for men who have fallen into the trap of problematic sexual behavior, intimacy disorders and pornography addiction to understand many new things in life that they never learned as a child. Due to early childhood abuse and neglect from family, friends, church or school the adult finds ways to soothe the unresolved pain that is activated by life's struggles.
Dr Eddie Capparuucci book "Going Deeper" chronicles his work with hundreds of addicts and answers the question everyone who falls into the unhealthy destructive behavior: 'why'. His book outlines a series of steps that describes the connection to early childhood trauma, how this trauma manifests itself in our inner child that remains present throughout our life and to become familiar with how our 'inner child's' core emotional triggers influence our adult behavior.
The steps outlined in the book are 1) Childhood wounds - reveal and discuss the negative and traumatic events from childhood (e.g. neglect, abuse, modeling, access, death), 2) Core Emotional triggers - identify the core emotional triggers (use this survey to help) which are a specific set that are the most potent that tend to cause the greatest discomfort, 3) Inner Child profile - craft a profile of your inner child (Going Deeper describes the nine most common) to gain a deeper understanding of your kid and why he mis-behaves, 4) Find the patterns - connect the past to the present by learning mindfulness techniques to recognize when your kid is being triggered today, 5) Notice - manage your core emotional triggers (click here for that process), and 6) practice these techniques and integrate the insights and lessons into your life.
Past work has focused primarily on arresting the behavior, Dr Capparucci's work answers a question for both those committed to recovery as well as the spouse. . Though stopping the behavior in the short term is critically important, the true freedom comes through continually investigating the root cause, learning to understand learn how to soothe your special unique inner child. The book then goes one step further and identifies the key ingredients for becoming intimately familiar with your inner child, and how to help him though the struggles of life.
,It is impossible for those who haven’t had to struggle with sexual identity issues and haven’t faced the agony of trying to decide to ‘come out’ what it must be like, unless possibly you are an addict. Living in the world, and in the culture today is difficult for anyone who might be slightly outside what is considered acceptable and ‘normal’. Just simple differences in looks, dress, hair styles, accents can all cause hurtful words and gossip. So, imagine what it must be like for those of color in a white neighborhood, those who struggle with sexual identity in a conservative neighborhood or family, or any other group that feels culturally discriminated.
Like many things that infect our spirit and soul, the more one experiences the ridicule or disconnection from the ‘norm’ the more shame builds up, contributing to a further borrowing into hiding. Being proud of your black heritage, or coming out to your family, or going against the predominant political or social issues within the family can be incredibly challenging and takes a great deal of courage and resilience. Isn't it understandable why people hide? Shame and fear are incredibly powerful and potent weapons of Satan.
There are several similar cultural myths between addicts those who fear coming out: they are bad, indigent or morally corrupt. “They just need to quit”, is a common refrain. Even though there are differences in reasons for hiding, addicts share internal worlds filled with similar amount and intensity of shame and fear. The drug (alcohol, drugs, sex, money, food, gaming, gambling) comes with societal stigmas that contributes to the need to stay hidden.
There are approximately 30 million problem drinkers / alcoholics in the US and there are less than 2 million in AA meetings. Approximately 95,000 people die each year from alcohol abuse. This is a huge gap between those who have sought help and those who need it. The current thinking is that the only way for an addict to come out is for them to come to the end of themselves, reach bottom and finally admit the drug has them licked. This can be due to loss of job, family, or financially destitute or they become sick and tired of being sick and tired.
A few thoughts on how we might address this intractable problem. Just as Jesus said to those who were going to stone the prostitute … “he who is without sin cast the first stone…”. What would it be like if everyone could see all our sin as a bubble above one another’s head, or written on the backs of their clothing, would we still be so judgmental and condemning? Make sure everyone in your circle including family, friends and especially children know that ‘there is nothing they can do to make you love them less, and there is nothing they can do that would make you love them more’. And mean it and show it!
Lastly, maybe in the church we could not only pray for and visit those who have physical ailments which is a very common practice, we could also openly pray for those who suffer from emotional and mental illnesses which are the real cause of their addictions. And we could have open and honest conversations about how our cultural norms perpetuates the hiding. Jesus called us to love the Lord, and to love our neighbors. He didn’t say just love those who are not in bondage.
Questions for New Years Resolutions?
Your 2021 Plan – What’s holding you back
We often set goals for our finances, work, health, family or faith at the beginning of the new year. How many times have you said, “I’m going to start January 1?”. We focus on those goals until we don’t, for a whole variety of reasons. Studies have shown that only 8% of those who set New Year’s resolutions don’t stick with it through the year.
From a 2018 article Dr. Marcelo Campos, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, said “writing goals down can help us to achieve them because it feels like more of a commitment.”
Campos explained “…that answering five specific questions can give you a push in the right direction when it comes to sticking to New Year’s resolutions.
The questions are:
The Strava study found that if exercising was one of your resolutions, then working with others encouraged more activity while joining a club boosted people’s activity 46 percent.
These are really good points for setting your annual goals. Other questions that may help you dig a bit deeper and achieve even greater achievement could include:
One last thought that seems to help many stick with a goal. Put a sticky note on your mirror or by the front door, or in your car, or next to the TV remote. Having goals front and center can be a good reminder and helps you keep track of progress. Just a list that you can mark off, nothing fancy and most don’t need an app, good old paper and pen can do just fine.
Fascinating approach to Big goals
If you have ever wondered how to attach big goals I encourage you to listen to this Ted talk. The speaker (Stephen Duneier) describes how to take on big audacious challenges in small bite sized chunks. He has achieved many of his big goals this way. He will also share that he is by no means the smartest, or the most gifted person. He just found a great formula that works for him. Enjoy!
Who needs a coach?
Getting outside help can include mentors, counselors, discipleship leaders, faith advisors, counselors, consultants and yes, coaches. Coaching is a professional approach, partnering with you on a particular journey of change, growth or transition. Counseling focuses on surfacing and healing from past issues; consulting provides advice based on knowledge, assessments and analysis and advisory services. Mentorship and discipleship involves someone giving you guidance and direction on any number of issues.
Partnering with a coach factraineds your thinking and planning. We have been trained in a host of simple techniques to ask powerful questions and challenge your thinking, testing your assumptions and beliefs, all in the service of coming up with the optimal outcome.
Coaching is ideal for someone who needs a great listener, who also asks great questions. Your coach challenges your thinking and encourages you as you process things like: