By Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D., SATP-C
Often people who are enslaved by pornography addiction only see the problems with their lives. They are trapped in a cycle of negativity and pessimism. They live with bitterness, resentment, and feel unworthy of receiving anything good in their lives, especially love. In Alcoholics Anonymous this is called “stinking thinking.” Overcoming this mindset is crucial for healthy recovery. To do this people in recovery need to live their lives with gratitude. Every day they need to take time to acknowledge all the ways they are blessed and be thankful for them. Keeping a gratitude list can help with this. Try taking a few minutes every day to write down the people, things, events and situations in your life for which you are grateful. Then, take a few minutes to read through your entire list and thank God for all your blessings.
Living a life of gratitude will help maintain your recovery because it will prevent you from falling back into stinking thinking. It will encourage you to continue working on healing any wounds that fueled your pornography addiction and to forgive those who hurt you. It will remind you daily of all the good people in your life who love and support you. You will learn to love and appreciate them more.
Creating a gratitude list was surprising for Larry. When he began his recovery, he didn’t think there was anything good in his life. All he could see what how he had ruined his life, his career and his marriage. He didn’t think anyone could love him, especially God. It was a little difficult at first to add items to his list. He began with basic things that he was grateful for like the fact that his wife hadn’t left him when he lost his job and when his addiction was discovered. As time went on and Larry progressed in recovery, he was able to see many more things for which he was grateful, such as the people in his support system. He was also grateful for the love and support of his wife and kids and the company that gave him a new job. Below is an example of some more of the things Larry placed on his list.
Larry’s Gratitude List
I am grateful for:
- My health
- My wife’s love and forgiveness
- My kids’ love
- My new job
- God’s love for me
- My education
- My home
- My support system: therapist, accountability partners, recovery group, spiritual director
- My faith
- My friends
Larry has made his gratitude list part of his recovery lifestyle. Every day, he adds to his list and it now covers several pages in his journal. During his prayer time, he reads part of his list and thanks God for all the blessings in his life. Living in gratitude has improved many of his relationships. He appreciates all the people in his life and they have reciprocated. Through this he has learned how to love and receive love. It has helped him experience true intimacy in many relationships.
Whether you struggle with pornography addiction or not, I recommend everyone keep a gratitude list. It will help you keep God at the center of your life by reminding you from whom all blessings flow!