How has porn impacted your approach to recovery? Learn 7 pornographic styles of recovery and what healthy recovery looks like instead.
Pornographic recovery is:
Healthy recovery is:
The idea of "a pornographic style of recovery" is based on Andrew Bauman's concept of "a pornographic style of relating" (PSR) as described here:
Other Husband Material episodes mentioned:
Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. Today we are talking about a pornographic style of recovery. What does that mean? Well, it's my spin on a concept developed by Andrew Baumann in his book the Psychology of Porn. He describes a pornographic style of relating, also known as PSR. He describes it as the impact of porn on your relationships. How does porn affect your relationship with God, with other people, with yourself? And today I want to extend that concept into talking about how porn has shaped us and how unwanted sexual behavior over time has shaped the way we approach recovery. Andrew Baumann says when pornography becomes your primary teacher or guide in your sexual development, we learn certain ways of being, and then those ways are unconsciously lived out in relationship. And I would add that those ways of being are also unconsciously lived out in recovery. So today we're really talking about a healthy approach to recovery, an empowering approach to recovery, versus an unhealthy, pornographic, addictive approach to recovery. Occasionally I've heard people talk about being addicted to recovery, and sometimes that can be a good thing when you're heavily investing in this area of your life so that you can grow and heal, and yet it can also be a little bit self-defeating. So that's what I want to talk about today some of the ways that we unconsciously approach recovery that are hindering us from the wholeness and life and freedom that we could have with a different mindset and a different attitude. So I have styles of recovery that are very similar to the way we approach pornography. Isn't that a striking thought that we might approach pornography and recovery in the same way? So I hope that today you will maybe see how the way that you have used porn might actually be similar to the way that you have used certain recovery resources or recovery programs and then maybe being challenged to try it a different way. The main question is how might you approach recovery in an unhealthy, pornographic way? Here are the pornographic styles of recovery that I have come up with, and I also would love to hear what you have noticed. Pornographic style of recovery number one is isolated. For most of us, watching porn and masturbating has been an isolated experience. We're all by ourselves and in the same way, many of us have pursued recovery from porn all by ourselves in isolation, in secrecy, and that's understandable, when you have felt all alone and maybe you haven't had the support that you needed and maybe it has not been safe for you to open up to other people. Maybe you've been hurt, maybe you've been betrayed, maybe you have a really bad taste in your mouth from trying to pursue recovery with people and it didn't work out. So going through recovery by yourself is typically a really bad idea. It's a recipe for relapse. If you find yourself doing your recovery activities, like watching videos or reading or trying to learn something, and you're just sitting alone online at a computer all the time, that's going to limit the amount of freedom that you will experience. So instead of a pornographic style of recovery, which would be isolated, all by yourself, a healthy approach to recovery would be relational, communal, communal, doing it together. That can be with a small group. That can be with a friend, a mentor, a coach. I mean, ideally you have a list of people that you can call at any time, people who you can count on and people who can call you. Being in this journey together is huge. We are wounded in relationship and we must be healed in relationship. I often hear from men who are struggling with porn that they have listened to a lot of these podcast episodes and watched a lot of videos but they've never really opened up to someone else about the details of their sexual attractions or fantasies. Maybe they're in a position where they feel like they can't. Breaking isolation is a huge breakthrough for many of you isolated versus relational. I see Roger commenting I have done most of my recovery in isolation and how has that gone for you? Some of you guys have some great community online long distance and it's been really difficult in person. Long distance friendship is great and we have an episode on that which you can find in the show notes for this if you're watching the recording and, at the same time, embodied brotherhood cannot be replaced. Yes, breaking isolation is risky. It's a redemptive risk and hopefully you can find a safe place To not do this alone. Now, when you are primarily alone and You're pursuing recovery, it's common to Fall into this next style, which is escapist. A pornographic style of recovery is Escapist instead of embodied. Sometimes this happens in our community, where I hear from guys that they're going on the husband material community so much that it's like taking over their life Hours per day and it actually becomes unhealthy. I think there is a value in the husband material community, but it's not a destination, it's more of a lobby. My hope with our community is not that you will escape into it and then spend all of your time on your digital devices Connecting with other guys here. My hope is that it will lead you into Deeper friendships that go beyond the platform. Some guys even meet up in person, whether at the retreat or on their own or doing local meetups. I think there is a danger in Becoming addicted to certain recovery opportunities like what we've created here. I mean Binging on husband material videos, binging on recovery podcasts has value and, yes, you can learn and also is it an escape? Most of us have used porn to escape from our lives and a huge part of recovery is Building a life you don't feel the need to escape from in your body Getting outside, exercising, meeting up with people in person, investing in your life apart from the screen, rather than a Approaching an online community like husband material as an escape. Now, I must admit that there are times when I use the husband material community as an escape, and it is wonderful to have a form of social media that doesn't have any ads that Will never show me pornography. I mean that's really valuable and at the same time, it can actually harm our relationships. We've had guys who have had to leave because their online recovery connections are taking them away from their marriage and their wife is feeling like, well, he's always talking to his friends, he's not talking to me. Have you ever experienced recovery as being escapist or kind of its own addiction? Keith says. I confess the HM space can be addicting. Yeah, it can be so. The goal here is not to condemn ourselves or beat ourselves up for that, but just to be aware of why I'm Using some kind of recovery resource. Am I doing it to distract myself? Am I doing it to escape from my life? Or or am I doing it to help me become more present in my life, become more awake, more aware, more connected and, ultimately, I hope, more embodied? Porn is not too physical. It's not too embodied. It's not physical enough. It only engages one small part of us and a huge part of recovery is engaging all of us mind, emotions, heart, our Bodies must be brought into the recovery process. A Place like husband material can help you gain the relational skills to be a better husband, to be a better friend and it can take you away from the people who are most important to you. So just be aware of that. If what you're doing in recovery is only about you and it's not taking into account family members, friends, your community, the people in your life, then you might need to Wake up a little bit. As Eddie capirucci says, sobriety is not enough. If All we care about is me, me, me, what I am learning and how I'm growing and how I'm healing, and we're not getting outside of ourselves, then Are we just reenacting the selfish patterns of addiction. Similar to that, a pornographic approach to recovery is marked by avoiding pain rather than Embracing pain. Porn is a pacifier. We use it to avoid the pain and the suffering that we don't want to feel, or we use it to numb. We use it to express anger, we use it to soothe anxiety and, in the same way, we can use recovery to avoid pain. Maybe you're motivated to Do recovery activities by a sense of shame, because if you don't, then you're a piece of trash and you feel like you don't have any worth. Maybe you feel like without recovery, you're nobody, so in that case, pursuing recovery is actually shame-based performance rather than healing and love and transformation. You might be motivated by fear, and I think that can be helpful to a degree. You don't want to lose everything, that is threatened by unwanted sexual behavior. Or maybe you're motivated by loss and trying to get back the years that you've lost in the past. All of this Avoiding is ultimately just fueling the addictive cycle. Healthy recovery looks like embracing pain, embracing myself even when I don't like myself, allowing others to embrace me, allowing God to embrace me, and receiving instead of achieving. That's what healthy recovery looks like. It's motivated by love and kindness. It's motivated by curiosity and compassion. That is sustainable. That is something you can do long term. Being motivated by shame, fear and loss can help in the short term, but in the end it's not sustainable. It's not going to help you gain long term, lasting freedom If you want to pursue healthy recovery. I believe it looks like embracing rather than avoiding. One way that can happen is by simply embracing yourself where you're at right now in the journey, exactly as you are. You are loved, you are redeemed, you are worth knowing. The point is don't use recovery to avoid your life. Use it to embrace God, others and yourself. You'll find that wow, that makes a big difference. Eli says I've noticed the way I relate in recovery sometimes is just like my addiction. I would keep it separate from my life. That's a great point. For some of us we have our whole life compartmentalized and then recoveries over here, and it's something different, rather than integrating. I see a few guys are resonating with that. Larry is asking how do we step into pain and sit in the pain other than trying to pacify it? I have some really awesome episodes on that, specifically on inner child work. You can look up how to heal your inner child or the inner child workshop and that will teach you some really powerful ways to step into pain. In Husband Material Academy we also teach the floss method BOA, boa. All of these are ways to step into pain. If you Google, search, grounding techniques and mindfulness, you will gain a ton of different strategies and ideas for how to be with your pain rather than simply be in pain or avoid it. I mean so many of us avoid pain because it's overwhelming. When you can learn some of these skills for self-regulation, it doesn't have to be unmanageable. Your sexual urges to use porn can become less magical and more manageable when, instead of battling against them or running away from them all the time you can befriend them. So that is probably a whole other episode. Keith is asking how do we share this with others? It's really awkward when you have learned so much and your whole world has been opened up. When you get a lot of these new ideas that I'm teaching at Husband Material and maybe your friends don't get it, how do you share it with them? I would recommend pointing people to OutGrowPorncom. That is my primary teaching. It's a video course, it's an e-book. It is the best introduction I've ever created to this whole perspective of outgrowing porn. Needing to embrace our pain, needing to befriend the little boy within us, point people to OutGrowPorncom, maybe even watch it with them. That, I find, helps people start to get it. Helps people start to understand how this is so different from so many different approaches out there. A pornographic style of recovery is impatient instead of resilient. I bet some of you guys can relate to this. When you join a new program, you read a new book, you go to a new group, you demand results immediately, or else it feels like, oh well, that was a waste. That impatience can be pornographic. I mean, porn is quick, porn is immediate, porn is always right there when you need it. It's quick, it's accessible, it's easy. Recovery is not. It's often slow. You don't usually see the results right away. So a healthy approach to recovery is resilient instead of impatient. I mean, maybe some of you guys think that my journey has been easier or simple. It took me eight years to finally get to the point where I am now, and it's now been eight years since then. Patrick Carnes used to say the process is two to five years, but depending on what you're measuring there and what level of freedom you're talking about, those numbers change. So the point is it's not quick, it's not easy, it's not simple. Yet, maybe shaped by our pornographic society and the extreme speed of the internet, some of us Want results right away, right now, and we need to learn patience. We need to learn resilience, to not give up, and I want to affirm some of you who have been on this journey for years and you're still not Fully seeing the results you want yet in your behavior and, my friend, you haven't given up. You are resilient, you're still showing up, you're still watching this, you're still listening to this, you're still investing in yourself, you have hope, or you wouldn't be here right now. So do you Recognize your own resilience by the fact of your presence here? Because I can see it, even for those of you who are showing up to this live episode. You Are a man who is committed to this process, or else you wouldn't be here. So I affirm your resilience and I want to encourage you to continue. Keep going, don't give up. There's hope. Peter says yes, I've been very impatient. You're right, we all have. I mean, who hasn't been? Impatience is really natural for little kids and what we're doing here is developing. We're becoming mature. So maybe, instead of shaming ourselves for being impatient, we can just embrace the fact that it's a young attitude and we're growing and the more we keep at it, the more patient we will become with ourselves and with others. Eli says I'm pretty sure my approach to recovery has been fueled by the flight fear response. Exactly that's what I was talking about with avoiding when your motivation for recovery is coming from a fight reaction, like I got to fight the battle, or a flight reaction, like I just got to avoid all the bad stuff. You're still in the midbrain, you're still in the limbic system, your Flooding your brain with cortisol. It's a trauma response and if you want to heal. A Trauma response is not going to get you very far. It's going to be frustrating, it's going to be exhausting. So many of us fight, flight or freeze, and that makes sense. And as we name these things, we can begin to take a different approach, based on kindness and connection and curiosity and compassion. That's healthy recovery. A pornographic style of recovery is passive Instead of proactive. I have been guilty of this, taking a posture of consuming, and, on the one hand, it is Healthy and good to be a learner and to be a ravenous reader and to learn as much as you can, to watch every video, to listen every podcast, to read every book and at the same time, that can Mirror the attitude that we would take with pornography, which is basically consuming, Clicking video after video. For some of us, recovery is kind of like that. We read a book after book and we go to group after group, but we're doing it from a posture of being a consumer of you know what can I get out of this, rather than being proactive, being a creator. Let me give you an example. So, instead of just reading a chapter of a book, okay, read the chapter and then write a journal entry about it, draw a picture of it, share it with a friend, take a group through the book. I mean, find a way to be proactive, find a way to Engage yourself actively, because we learn by doing. Listening to a lecture, even listening to a podcast, will stick so much more when you can make it your own, when you can be proactive like, hey, maybe take notes on the episode, maybe connect it to something you've learned in the past. Maybe, like, go for a run and think about it, maybe go for a walk and think about it. Let's think about this what can you do to be a creator in recovery, not just a consumer? Now, I'm not saying that reading books, going to weekends, doing groups is bad. What I'm saying is, when we do these things, we need to have a posture of being proactive, of being an action-taker, rather than just, you know, sitting back while this thing is gonna fix me and and Realizing that for some of us we're almost like binging on recovery resources rather than really allowing ourselves to reflect on what we're hearing and reading and learning. Because when we do that, when we slow down and creatively begin to Put things into practice, that really helps. So this is a big difference. There's a difference between attending a meeting and listening to something. There's a difference between reading about something and then actually doing it. So, for example, many of you know the importance of different habits. That can be helpful, but are you actually doing any of them? What we do shapes us more than what we consume. Roger says I'm wondering if I'm just distracting myself from what I actually need to do. Yeah, I mean, many of us know a lot about recovery and yet how much of it are we actually doing? I hope that is a challenge that feels encouraging instead of condemning. I'm preaching to myself here because I know that, for me, being proactive and even creating an episode like this helps my own learning sink in deeper, takes my own freedom further, and I believe the same is for you. I have found that when I am in a position to minister to others, that actually helps me prioritize ministering to myself and helps me do my own work. So being proactive rather than passive is huge. Chad says the chat content in the husband material community is creative. There have been some awesome comments writings, poems. Yeah, I love that, and guys are sharing their learning and being creative with it. That's why the final assignment of HMA is the creative capstone. I invite you guys to take everything you've learned and create something, sculpture a meal. We've had some amazing creative capstones, like a Scrabble board. I did an interpretive dance, people writing songs, people writing poems. There's no limit to what you can do to express yourself and to take your recovery deeper. Many of you guys are saying that you hope and dream of helping others who are struggling. May that motivate you to take your own healing even more seriously and become proactive rather than passive. Rodney is giving some ideas for ways you can be proactive doing spiritual disciplines, journal exercise, do the floss method, boa practice, emotional regulation techniques All of that is great. The last pornographic style of recovery I want to identify is being cold and harsh rather than warm and kind. Porn is a pacifier, yet it is also a punisher. It is a way that we punish ourselves when we feel like that's what we deserve. Instead of giving ourselves something good, something beautiful, something true, we settle for a sexual version of it that makes us feel even worse about ourselves. In the same way, some guys do recovery as a punishment, as a life sentence, as a prison. I have to do this. This posture of depriving ourselves, punishing ourselves through recovery activities is not freedom, true recovery, healthy recovery, is warm and kind. It doesn't beat you down, it lifts you up. It doesn't feel harsh, it feels tender, it doesn't hurt you, it heals you. This might sound like common sense, but there are some very prominent porn recovery ministries and prevailing purity culture attitudes that would suggest that you really should punish yourself if you have a porn relapse. That never worked for me. I needed love, acceptance, tenderness, kindness, presence. That is what has given me the most long-term recovery, not the cold, harsh approach, the warm, kind approach. So there you have it. A pornographic approach to recovery is isolated, escapist, avoiding, impatient, passive, cold and harsh. Healthy recovery is relational, embodied, embracing, resilient, proactive, warm and kind. I wonder if you all have any that you would add. What would you add to this? Timber is asking what can you do to help yourself know where you are at in their Covery Roadmap? Today I've given you a rubric of different growth areas. Are you becoming more relational, more embodied, more embracing of yourself, more resilient, more proactive and warmer and kinder as a human being? Because if you are, I think you're going in the right direction. For all of us, myself included, we never arrive, we never get to a place where it's like, oh, I'm done, I have no more work to do, I'm not who I could be, I'm not who I should be and I'm not who I once was. So where are you in the recovery roadmap? Well, you're certainly not at the finish line, and every time you sexually act out, you don't go back to the starting line. You pick up from where you left off, and I hope you will do so in a way that is relational, warm and kind, embracing, embodied. This is a healthy approach. Are there any milestones or goalposts along the journey? Yes, absolutely. There are milestones of telling someone a sexual secret that you've never told anyone before. There are milestones of behavior getting more and more time without porn. There are milestones of recovery behavior, of being able to make a phone call every day for 30 days in a row. If you've never done that, I highly recommend it. There are milestones of being able to release trauma that you've held in your body for years. Milestones of being more aware of your emotions. Milestones of understanding your sexual fantasies. Milestones of forming friendships that are life-giving, where you can talk about anything, where you can really count on each other. I mean, if you want to get some more ideas. Listen to my episode how to Measure Freedom from Porn. There are a lot more significant measurements, more significant measurements than looking at surface-level behavior only. I hope you can come to a place where you embrace recovery because you love it, because it's beautiful. And if you don't love it and it's not beautiful, then question whether this is a pornographic style of recovery or a healthy style of recovery. Yeah, I don't want to be in a cold, harsh, passive, escapist place my whole life. No way you can come to a place where health actually feels more satisfying than sexual addiction. It's actually better, it's bigger, it's not shrinking your life, it's expanding your life into something even better, not just removing the old, but replacing it with new. I want to challenge you to choose one healthy approach to recovery and focus on that. Do you want to become more relational, embodied, embracing, resilient, proactive, warm and kind? Choose one, and then how will you pursue that, instead of being isolated, escapist, avoiding impatient, passive, cold and harsh? Thank you so much, and always remember you are God's beloved Son and you, he is well pleased.