Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
November 12, 2018

Just because your partner is no longer raging, that does not mean you are done.

Partners are often traumatized by sex addiction and this trauma sometimes comes out as anger or rage.  Given this, it can be easy for sex addicts to judge their progress by their partner’s emotional state.  This is a mistake.  If your partner was angry and is no longer “raging,” this does not mean you are done.  It simply means your partner is not “raging.”  You may still have work to do regarding sobriety, your recovery program, balance and moderation in other areas of your life, or consistent relationship-affirming words and actions.  Your work continues even when the “raging” ends.

Have I worked as hard on my sobriety and recovery when my partner or others were calm as I did when they were angry?  What was the outcome?  What gifts await me as I continue my sobriety and recovery work even when others are calm or, perhaps, appreciative?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
November 5, 2018

Maturity is being able to let go of outcomes.

When we are young, we are extremely attached to specific outcomes.  Children often break into tantrums or tears because they hold a strong desire for a specific outcome.  It would be nice if this automatically changed with age.  Unfortunately, age and maturity do not always go hand in hand and plenty of adults continue to have “tantrums.”  With maturity, we accept that there are multiple possible outcomes.  With maturity, we learn that what we want is not always best for us.  With maturity, we learn that outcomes we did not desire can offer us positive gifts.  The maturity that comes with true recovery makes it easier for us to let go of outcomes.

When have I held tightly to a desired outcome?  How did this impact me and others?  When have I received something positive from an “undesirable” outcome?  What gifts await me as I mature in recovery and learn to let go of outcomes?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
October 29, 2018

Watch the feet not the lips.

This is a phrase we use to help partners verify that a person is safe to trust.  Addicts say all sorts of things and make lots of assurances.  Sometimes this is done with the best of intentions.  Sometimes this is done maliciously.  In the end, the words mean very little.  Positive actions make the difference and allow for trust to be rebuilt.  You may talk good sobriety but consistently relapse.  You may talk about recovery growth but be out of balance in other areas of your life.  You may talk about having patience and understanding for your partner but show little empathy and compassion during conflicts.  Partners, as well as others impacted by your addiction, will watch your feet not your lips.

When have my words not matched my actions?  How has this impacted my relationships?  What gifts await me as I focus on my actions matching my expressions of recovery?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
October 22, 2018

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the basic tenets of 12-step programs is the giving of service.  It is no accident that this is an important part of the program.  When we give service to others, we also receive benefits.  Whether this is taking a service position in a meeting, service as a sponsor, service in taking phone calls, service by providing support and guidance, or service by simply connecting with others in program.  When we give to others, the service we are providing does as much good for us as it does for others.

When have I given service to others?  What was the benefit to me?  What gifts await me as I continue to help others?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
October 15, 2018

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” –Maya Angelou

The past can be painful.  This pain may be connected to traumas we experienced in childhood or painful situations we caused or experienced in our adult lives.  We cannot change the past.  In recovery, we learn to look at our past, accept it, and move forward with courage so that we do not live it again.  Courage in recovery takes many forms: rigorous honesty, acknowledging and admitting our character defects, making amends to those we have harmed, vulnerability by admitting our mistakes and struggles, and willingness to face our past traumas, to name a few.  We will always be responsible for the wreckage in our wake but we need not recreate the past and live it again.

When have I felt pain about my past?  Did I run from the pain of my past and ignore advice that was given to me?  Did I face the pain of my past and follow the advice?  What were the consequences?  What gifts await me as I face my past with courage?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
October 8, 2018

“Make sure the fortune that you seek is the fortune that you need.” –Ben Harper

What we seek and what we need are often very different things for addicts.  Sex addicts use sex to address non-sexual needs.  Sex addicts use sex to create a sense of intimacy or connection, to manage stress, to resolve uncomfortable emotions, to express resentment, to feel reassurance after a conflict, or to boost their in self-esteem.  The problem is that sex does not provide a meaningful or lasting fix for any of these things and then we are back to square one.  When we make sure the “fortune we seek” is the “fortune we need,” growth and change happens.

Have I been aware of seeking sex as a replacement for something else?  What am I or what might I be using sex to avoid?  What gifts await me as I stop using sex as a placebo and start seeking what I need?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
October 1, 2018

“I define infidelity as the breaking of trust that occurs when you keep intimate, meaningful secrets from your primary romantic partner.” –Rob Weiss

When does sexual behavior become infidelity?  There are many ways to define infidelity and addicts in denial use them all.  “It’s only porn, I didn’t have a relationship with someone else.”  “I was only sexting and chatting, I don’t even know what they look like.”  “It was only swapping pictures and video chatting, I didn’t actually have sex with them.”  “Oral sex isn’t really sex.”  “Wedding vows are only good within a 150 mile radius.  Beyond that it’s not cheating.”  Infidelity is not effectively defined by a behavior or a location.  It is best defined by knowledge.  It is important that your partner knows about and condones your sexual behaviors.  Are you keeping a sexual behavior secret or minimizing a sexual behavior?  If your answer is “Yes,” “Kind of,” “Maybe,” “Not really,” “Not technically,” or “I’m not sure,” then it is infidelity.  The sooner you accept that, the sooner your relationship can start healing.

When have I kept secrets about my sexual behavior?  How did I justify this?  What gifts await me as I acknowledge any infidelities and the pain they have caused?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
September 24, 2018

“Carry in your memory, for the rest of your life, the good things that came out of those difficulties. They will serve as a proof of your abilities and will give you confidence when you are faced by other obstacles.” –Chico Xavier

There are many difficulties in recovery and on the other side, we have a choice.  We can focus on the pain and discomfort we experienced or we can focus on the good that came from those difficulties.  Focusing on the pain and discomfort is easy.  The wrongs of others and the perceived injustice done to us is easy for us to spot.  More difficult, yet more beneficial, is focusing on the good.  This good may seem overshadowed by our pain.  It may be hidden, only to be found with exploration.  It may not be apparent until time has passed and we view the experience in hindsight.  When you find the good, hold onto it.  The good, not the pain or discomfort, gives you hope that you can create future success.

When have I focused on pain and discomfort?  What have the consequences of this been?  What gifts await me as I actively look for the good things that came out of my difficulties?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
September 17, 2018

“He uses common sense to judge not the intentions of an action but its consequence. He takes responsibility for everything he does, even if he has to pay a high price for his mistakes.” –Paulo Coelho

In recovery, we aim for acceptance of others and responsibility for our actions.  Acceptance of others’ intentions is an important gift for us to offer regardless of whether it is given to us in return.  Doing our best to accept the intention of others is one way we slowly make amends for the damage we have done in our addiction.  Likewise, accepting responsibility for the consequences (not necessarily the intention) of our actions is another way we continually make amends.  Sometimes this feels unfair until we step back and weigh the lengthy and significant impact of our addiction against the relatively recent changes in our recovery.  With time, perhaps our debt will be forgiven by those close to us.

When have I self righteously judged others?  When have I cried foul when my actions, not my intent, were judged?  What gifts await me as I accept the intentions of others and take responsibility for my actions?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
September 10, 2018

Judgement is not the problem. Judgement without empathy is the problem.

Judgement with empathy and without empathy are two very different things.  With empathy, we judge the behavior or actions in order to create positive change.  With empathy, we attempt to understand another’s characteristics and how they came to be.  We still appropriately hold boundaries around the behaviors, choices, or characteristics of others.  However, with empathy, we also accept their imperfections and hold onto their humanity.  Without empathy, the person and the behavior are viewed as one and the same.  Without empathy, our sense of humanity is lost.

When have I judged myself or others without empathy?  What have the consequences of this been?  What gifts await me as I embrace empathy while in judgement?