Excerpt from “Jesus Is Better Than Porn”

Note from Josh: Today I turn over the reins to Hugh Houston, who has written the inspirational and successful book, “Jesus is Better Than Porn.” He has graciously allowed me to excerpt a piece of his book that talks about what a mind that focussed on porn needs to be replaced with. I know Amazon is taking a bit of time getting real books to people these days, but there are also Kindle and Audiobook versions available. A link is at the end of the excerpt.

From Jesus is Better Than Porn by Hugh Houston

There were times when I reasoned that dealing with porn was worse than an addiction to alcohol or cocaine because everywhere I went, my thoughts went with me. I had a library of impure images filed away in my brain.  How could I ever get rid of them?  These obscene thoughts had invaded every corner of my mind.  They were with me when I laid my head on my pillow at night and when I woke up in the morning.  How could I avoid them?  I felt like my brain was a haunted house inhabited by a million ghosts.

Imagine an empty glass.  It’s not really empty, it’s full of air.  Now imagine trying to get all of the air out of the glass.  You might try using a vacuum cleaner, but that probably won’t work. The easiest way to get the air out of the drinking glass is to fill it with something else, like water.  The water goes in and the air goes right out.

That’s what I had to do with my brain.  How could I get rid of all of those obscene thoughts that hounded me day and night?  I had to focus my mind on good things.  As I learned to dwell on healthy thoughts, I began to win the battle against those lusty images that attempted to take control of my mind.

The apostle Paul gives this advice:

“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar urged people to get rid of “stinking thinking”. Well, there is nothing worse than a carnal mind using other people for its own selfish ends.  The best way I know of to push all of those immoral images from my brain is to replace them with thoughts which are pure, true, noble, admirable, and excellent.  Our primary battleground in the war against this plague (or any other undesirable practice), lies in what we decide to think about, what we allow to occupy the space between our ears.

In 1427 Thomas A. Kempis wrote the following in The Imitation of Christ:

“Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.  First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.”

This has certainly been true in my life. When I resist temptations right off the bat, I do just fine. But if I give in just a hair, leave the door ajar just a fraction of an inch, it soon becomes almost impossible not to yield.  My best strategy (really the only strategy that works) is to avoid every impure thought and to stay as far away from the slippery slope as possible.

Impure thoughts cannot be toyed with.  Only a fool tries to see how close he can get to the edge of the slippery slope before sliding down all the way to the bottom.  The best way to head off feelings of lust is to nip them in the bud.  Act quickly, vigorously, and decisively.  Be radical.  It is the only way to ever break free from the compulsive cycle of porn and lust.

If you’d like to learn more about Hugh Houston or order a copy of Jesus is Better than Porn, click here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DMF6ZQS

Prepare for a Post-COVID Explosion of Porn Addicts and An Idea to Keep From Going Stir Crazy

Note: I posted this on LinkedIn this morning, but I think it makes sense here, too.

The saying goes that idle hands are the devil’s plaything, and I think that’s never been more literally true. There are a lot of men and women in this world whose COVID-19 idle hands are likely turning them to online pornography. Not all will end up as addicts, but some probably will who never would have otherwise.

In a world where PornHub is offering premium access to Italian residents in a quarantine PR stunt and other sites are bracing for record-shattering traffic, I fear that porn addiction statistics are going to skyrocket during this worldwide pandemic.

In a normal scenario, I think most of us preach the opposite of social isolation to those seeking recovery from pornography addiction. Now, we’re encouraging everybody to embrace the aloneness.

I only did 12-Step groups for most of that first year of recovery, but they were crucial, as were weekly face-to-face appointments with my therapist and another weekly support group I participated in. Had they all been cancelled, and I was left alone, I don’t think I would have had the strength to abstain that first year, or maybe two.

I think about all of those men and women who have tried to kick the addiction on their own to this point. Many of them are stuck white-knuckling it through their seemingly endless days and even longer nights.

I’m worried about those who will never see the addiction coming. I’m worried about women who think porn addiction only happens to guys or older people who think it’s a younger person’s problem. I worry about people who have told themselves they use porn “recreationally” and didn’t have a problem who now are utilizing it two, three or four times more than usual. I’m worried about younger guys and gals who have never looked at online porn regularly who now find themselves discovering just how deep and dark the world gets and I’m worried about those who are addicted and are escalating the extreme nature of the content they are looking at because nothing else in the closed-for-business world can tweak their pleasure centers.

And the answer is… we have no perfect answers. It doesn’t matter how many letters you have after your name, whether you fancy yourself a pornography addiction expert or not, whether you’ve been an addict or not, or which spiritual building/book/deity you prefer. We’ve never seen a global health crisis in the age of the Internet, nor in a world where porn is so pervasive.

A few days ago, I put out a message on LinkedIn letting people know if they wanted a non Covid-19 person their podcast, I could talk porn addiction, and I was expecting one or two reactions. I’m booked on four shows and did two over the weekend. We actually talked a lot about being stuck at home and the lure of pornography.

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I came up with one potential solution that everybody who feels like they’re on house arrest can utilize. It once helped me. Maybe it can help you in the coming days when it feels like the walls are closing in on you.

For those who don’t know, I once did six months in county jail. With few people to talk to and my safety never an issue, it only took a couple of weeks before I was going stir crazy. The key to keeping my shit together was routine, scheduling and knowing what was coming next.

I always knew the next 2-3 things I was going to do, whether they would take 15 minutes (doing a Sudoku puzzle) or 2 hours (watching another insipid superhero movie on FX or USA). I knew what I was going to do after that, and after that. It allowed me to create the illusion that I was always busy, had a full schedule and always had something else to do.

My activities were reading the newspaper, writing letters, cleaning the pod, reading books, doing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzles, talking on the phone, exercising, showering, writing books, napping, reading the newspaper, playing cards, talking to people and watching TV. I’m sure there were other things I did and don’t remember, but I always had a basic structure for my day, even if the specific tasks weren’t always the same. Sticking to a schedule and having a plan for my day allowed me to have some of the normalcy of my busy life in the outside world and I think maintaining that structure allowed me to reintegrate much easier than I expected.

If you’re an addict, partner of an addict or help addicts and need to talk, I’m here, by email, telephone or video call. If you’re looking for something to read, I’ve got a ton of blog entries on this website and my books are on Amazon. If you’re looking for resources, this site can help, or I can help you find what you need as well. And if you need a podcast guest, my headphones are always ready.

I have no magical answers. Nobody does. But when you think about, we don’t even in the best times either. We just pretend we don’t need each other as much, so maybe that’s a lesson we can take from this weird era in history we’re living through. We need each other so much more than we admit or recognize.

Your one-minute answer to “Why Don’t Addicts Just Stop?”

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when I do podcasts is something along the lines of “When the average person looks at an addict, they can’t understand why the addict doesn’t just stop. Why can’t they?” For someone who doesn’t have the experience of being an addict, it’s a question that makes sense to me. I have no idea how so many things in this world work or why they are the way they are. The best way to find out is to ask, so for all of those who have ever wondered, I provide this 1-minute answer from my appearance on The Come to the Table Podcast.

Even if you’ve heard my story before, I’d urge you to at least listen to the first 20-25 of this episode as it’s a conversation I’ve not had before, touching on my spirituality, upbringing in the church, the modern state of the Catholic Church, and a quirky “would you rather” game.

LinkedIn vs. WordPress, a Tale of Two Mental Health Communities

I spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn these days, both to try and get my book into the hands of mental health/addiction professionals and to make connections with those professionals as I still figure out how my pornography addiction education mission can best move forward. It’s a very different world than WordPress.

Before I get into it, I have to say the No. 1 strangest thing that I’ve witnessed among mental health professionals on LinkedIn is just how many of them like to create memes where they quote themselves. It’s seriously fucking weird! I don’t know if it’s a marketing thing where they hope others will share it or if it’s just a narcissistic side of them that sometimes comes with people who are smart and have the capability to heal, but I’m never going to get comfortable with it. You let other people quote you. You don’t quote yourself.

meme

Anyway, for me, the biggest difference is that the community I’ve cultivated on WordPress are either struggling addicts, former addicts, people with mental health issues, or empaths. Demographically, it’s all over the spectrum from teenagers to people in their 70s, male, female, located all over the world in various socioeconomic conditions, but there is also a comfortable sameness with just about every person, including me. It’s a firm understanding that we don’t have all the answers. That kind of self-awareness and humility is quite often not seen among the ranks on LinkedIn.

I remember being introduced to the street smarts vs. book smarts theory when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. There were those kids, like I was expected to be, who excelled in their studies and would go on to do smart things in smart careers and then go home to their smart wives and smart children at the end of the day. Then there were the other kids, they were the ones who would fill the labor and service jobs, but they’d have a real-life worldliness that I couldn’t understand because things came almost too easy to me. While I could do the taxes of the other group, I’d be dependent upon them to protect me in a fight.

As I’ve learned, that concept is moronic. Facebook proved that some of the kids who should have died by accidentally electrocuting themselves because they were so stupid go onto great things and some of the kids with the most potential flame-out the hardest.

The one place I do see this idea somewhat played out, though, is in the world of addiction. When I got into my first rehab, I met people who I thought I’d have nothing in common with. Many became good friends. A guy who got kicked out of the Hells Angels for being too violent and getting in too much trouble with the law was probably my best friend in my first rehab. What did we have in common? We knew addiction and it was enough to bond us. I learned this lesson again at the second rehab, and at the limited 12-step meetings and group therapy sessions I attended. Addiction made us street smart whether we were an 18-year-old meth addict or a 68-year-old sex addict.

But, if there is street smart in that equation, there has to be book smart, and I’ve finally met this side of the coin on LinkedIn. I like LinkedIn because it is kept professional, relatively politics-free, yet there is still a lot of inspiration and videos of dogs doing cute things.

There are a lot of people in mental health/addiction who have dealt with an issue, but on LinkedIn, not every one of those people are quick to share. Part of my recovery is being as honest as I possibly can as often as I possibly can, so I don’t go to any length to hide my history with pornography or alcohol.

The book smart are the mental health professionals who have never had a major issue with addiction or their own mental health. They’ve witnessed health conditions that they are very qualified to diagnose and treat, yet they don’t know what it’s like to have been there. It’s like someone who is an expert in ancient Egyptian history. I still think a goat herder who actually lived in Egypt during the building of the Pyramids could probably beat them in a game show, even if they were only a peasant. There is just something to be said for experience vs. theoretically knowledge.

In dealing with the LinkedIn community, I’ve gotten a vibe again and again that I’m dealing with people who think they have answers to our world’s growing pornography addiction problem, even if they haven’t dealt with a lot of clients who have it yet. They have the answers because, on an academic level, they’ve always had the answers.

Depending on who the person is and their exact background, the answer may be 101 different things, but they are relatively sure they have the answer, even when the answer is that porn addiction isn’t a real thing. Whether it’s sweat lodge workshops, filters galore on your computer, or the same tired arguments against porn that have been around for 50 years and never worked, they have THE answer.

Now, I don’t want to slam all of them. I’ve made some great friends and important contacts. They know who they are and I’m grateful to have you in my life. But, I’ve also met people who wouldn’t give me the time of day because I’m just a former addict with no letters after his name. It feels like those who even bother to acknowledge that I’m trying to actually bring resources to the table for addicts with my books, presentations and website mostly just pat me on the head and tell me to run along while the grown-ups figure out the answers to the world’s problems.

On WordPress, there’s sometimes a victim mentality of people who just can’t get out of their own way, and I think on some levels don’t want to, in order to get better or improve their situation. WordPress has a lot of wallowers, and they frustrate me to no end. On LinkedIn, that frustration comes from a superiority mentality of people who have plenty of knowledge, but very little experience. I think the real money will be in creating the social media app that exists somewhere in the middle.

What’s most ironic is that I spent no time on LinkedIn before my newest book came out, yet it basically is a street smart/book smart take on porn addictions for partners of addicts. If you want to support a street-smart troll, click HERE to learn more about the book.

And of course, all of this said, if you want to join me on LinkedIn, feel free.

 

 

Always Staying Ahead of the Next Obsession is the New Normal in Recovery

Anybody else feel weird when a repairman is at the house, like you’re not sure just how much of the process you’re supposed to participate in or what proximity you’re supposed to maintain? I’ve got the guy in my mud room right now trying to figure out why my dryer won’t dry and am trying to work from the breakfast bar in my kitchen, but am not getting the regular stuff done, so I figured I’d write an entry to stay busy.

I’ve noticed my mind is trying to find something to glom onto in the last few months and it all seems to have to do with the computer or some kind of communication.

At the end of last year, it was blogging. I was justifying daily entries by saying I was getting more hits than ever and building up my base which could only help me eventually turn the porn addiction writing and educating into a money-making entity, but taking a step back, it was clear that I wasn’t reaching that many people and certainly not very many new people. The reality was, I liked seeing the little bar on the stats page go up and I liked the interaction with people and started to depend on it at much as interaction with people in real life, which I don’t think is healthy.

I’ve been winding down the amount of podcasts I’m doing, too. They are a free means to reach potential readers of my books or people who want to utilize my counseling/advising service, but every one hour podcast you hear probably involves three hours of actual time dedicated to it. I was trying to book 3-5 per week which was taking too much of my time. Thankfully, a couple of very smart people told me that I need to shoot for quality, not quantity. I recognized that I wasn’t really after the attention as I may have been 10 years ago, but just wanted to feel like I was always doing something to push the book. I’ve always confused working smarter with working harder. Balancing those two things is going to be a life-long struggle.

As these things have waned in my life, I found myself introduced to Reddit. First, I found a couple of porn addiction boards, some about addicts and some about partners. I liked being a voice in the conversation, but it was the same conversation over and over and over. Not long after, I was introduced to the “roast” page. I found it hilarious. I’m one of those people who love it when people roast me. I’ve always had a good sense of humor when it came to myself and believe I had a good sense of humor when it came to roasting others. It turns out, I have a gift from God for roasting people. I started to get people up-voting my roasts in the thousands and was told by a few that considering I’d only been on Reddit 10 weeks but had around 50K upvotes, they thought I could be among the fastest in the history of the site to reach a million. This is when I started to take it too seriously. I started finding the “system within the system” realizing that roasting females got more votes and roasting between noon and 4 p.m. EST was best and just overanalyzing the whole thing. I was stopping work mid-project to head over to see if there were new people who needed roasting. So I deactivated my account. It was creatively fun, but again started to show signs of becoming a bit of an obsession — and I didn’t even have a way to explain it away or rationalize it as doing something good.

I started a new diet today because I’ve been eating crap food at all hours and seem to find myself thinking about food more than in the past. My weight isn’t too bad compared to where it’s been in the past before I started a diet, but I’m a good 20-25 pounds more than I should be. My mind should not be a place where Chicken in a Biskit crackers or Cheetos take up any real estate. Hopefully my junk food cravings go away as I lose a few pounds. After all, bikini season is just around the corner.

I guess my point, as I spy the guy starting to reassemble the dryer, is that for recovering addicts like me who can easily turn something new into an obsession, vigilance and analyzing your patterns of behavior is a constant necessity. Yeah, it would be better if I didn’t sucked into something new and want to master it immediately, nor be able to explain why quite often why mastering it was a good thing. But those aren’t the cards I’m playing with and recognize your situation, tendencies, and limitations is a key part of being healthy I’m always learning.