Permission to Rest – Life After Lust VLOG

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In my newest VLOG episode I shared some insights about the importance of resting well. This is a significant challenge for me and I know I am not alone. Those of us in recovery are especially vulnerable to choosing to numb-out when non-addictive relaxation is what we really need. If you also struggle in this area, I invite you to check out the video and consider how you can increase rest and decrease numbing-out behaviors. I believe this is the path to much-needed physical, spiritual, and mental renewal. Resting effectively is an essential recovery skill.

Click HERE for Permission to Rest VLOG Episode 

If you found this video helpful, I invite you to check out my other videos and SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel. Thanks!

PS: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the mothers out there!

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Giving Us All Permission to Rest

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As a person in recovery, I find it very hard to give myself the rest and relaxation I need. What comes naturally for me is overcommitment and overachievement. I too often prioritize productivity over caring for myself responsibly. I know I am not alone in this. Flores writes that addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning the lifestyle of effective self-care takes continuous effort. For me, it is a journey of constant course correction.

Thankfully, my body tells me when I am maxing out my resources and my capacity for productivity. I have learned to see addictive cravings as signals that something is not right inside of me. When those signals go off, it is time to act. If I do not respond with attention, curiosity, and care, I know I am on the road to relapse.

In her book Running On Empty, Dr Jonice Webb shares that “adults who were emotionally neglected as children often don’t know what their needs are. Their own wants, needs, and feelings are not only irrelevant to the emotionally neglected, they’re invisible.” Since nearly 100% of sexual addicts were emotionally neglected in early life, it makes sense how we learned to neglect ourselves.

Dr Webb recommends finding “healthy self-soothing strategies”that fit each individual’s needs.  They could range from going for a walk in the woods, praying or meditating, writing or journaling, exercising, playing with a pet, taking a bath, reading in a hammock, or gardening. The possibilities are endless (for more ideas click here). We can seek and find the non-addictive and non-stressful activities that meet our deepest needs.

We can learn how to love ourselves in many ways, as part of our daily rituals and in times of heightened stress. We can seek the support we need and remind ourselves that today is a great day to begin again. This self-compassionate and self-supportive approach will help us get off of the hamster-wheel of performance and pay attention to the things that are most needed.

May we all learn to tune in to the needs of our body, mind, and soul, investing in the much needed care that will soothe our wounds and wholly rejuvenate us.

I officially give us all permission to rest.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C originally published here

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The 4 Secrets of a Successful Summer Vacation (In Recovery)

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Summer is often a season of travel and time away from regular responsibilities. For those of us in recovery, vacations can be filled with new temptations and triggers. When we neglect our recovery routines and indulge in everything our eyes desire, we dance with danger. For me, late nights and lack of structure can quickly lead to lust binges and weakened self-control. I can also slip into states of disconnect and self-neglect when I do not remain intentional in my recovery work. For those who experience similar vulnerabilities on vacation, here are 4 secrets for a successful summer:

  1. Scan & Plan – With new environments come new temptations and triggers. Scan new scenery for situations that could take you out. Alert your accountability partners to emerging challenges, communicating your proactive plan to evade them. Rather than being a victim to vulnerable circumstances, remain responsible, mindful, and vigilant.
  2. Stay Connected – Avoid behaviors and experiences that disconnect you from those you love, including yourself. Stay connected to your feelings, your values, your accountability, God, and those around you. Celebrate in such a way that your future self will thank you, not resent you.
  3. Care for Yourself – Remain faithful to your self-care structures, remembering that “while there is an obvious vacation from regular schedules and responsibilities, there is never a vacation from essential recovery routines.”. Self-care may include seeking solitude and healthy self-soothing when triggered or over-stimulated.
  4. Make Meaningful Memories– Recovery is not just about avoiding self-destruction but also about the construction of a full life. This too takes intentionality, since addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning how to have fun without lust, excessive sugar, and other “drugs” of choice is a significant challenge of recovery. Investing in guilt-free memories with those we love will lay the foundation of a new and meaningful life.

    May all who of us on the road to healing enjoy a summer strengthened by solid recovery.

    I wish all readers a summer of celebration and an incredible Independence Day!

    For additional articles on this topic, check out the following links:

Recovery on the Road: Preparing for The Temptations of Travel

Holiday Recipes for Relapse & Recovery (Revised)

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The Neuroscience of Self-Care

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

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Life is Short, Live it Well

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Live it Well – Switchfoot

Take the burden from my arms
Take the anchors off my lungs
Take me broken
And make me one
Break the silence and make it a song

Life is short I want to live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short I want to live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken, oh my soul!
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short I want to live it well

I want to sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
’Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
I’m living for more than just a funeral
I want to burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short I want to live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short I want to live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken, oh my soul!
Every breathe that you take is a miracle
Life is short I want to live it well

I got one life
And one love
I got one voice
But maybe that’s enough
’Cause with one heartbeat
And two hands to give
I got one shot
One life to live
One life to live

Every breath you take is a miracle

Life is short I want to live it well

-Switchfoot

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“What My Wife is Worth” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

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Awhile back Jennifer Lamprey, Organizer of the Women of Value Quickening Conference, asked me to write a piece that supports women. She emphasized the importance of men supporting women, especially when it comes to issues related to pornography. She shared, “I believe more and more women need and want to hear a man supporting what they’re doing.” In her perspective, when husbands use pornography, partners lose their femininity, become afraid of being emotional and vulnerable, see people as dangerous, and lose their connection to their worth. She said, “The Quickening is about women knowing their worth”.

Being a husband who has struggled sexually, I resonate with the importance of this message. I see that my battle with lust effects my wife deeply. My personal recovery journey is an opportunity to reflect back to my wife how worthy and worthwhile she is.

All women need to know that regardless of how others have treated them, nothing can diminish their worth. They will always be worthy of love, belonging, and respect. It is not unreasonable for them to require that those who love them treat them accordingly. May the following piece provide encouragement and empowerment as all women realize and rediscover their infinite worth.

What My Wife Is Worth

My wife is a woman of infinite worth. Because of this, she deserves my best efforts.

She deserves a husband who only has eyes for her.

She deserves a husband in active recovery, not passively going with the flow.

She deserves a husband who reminds her that she is not to blame for his past or present choices.

She deserves a husband who actively opposes visual and mental lust in all forms; viewing it as the enemy of true intimacy.

She deserves a husband who is trustworthy, both when she is looking and when she’s unaware.

She deserves a husband who seeks help when needed, remaining accountable to those who call out his greatness and strength.

She deserves a husband with the courage to face his deepest fears, inadequacies, and wounds for the sake of his healing.

She deserves a husband who learns from his mistakes, creating and communicating new plans for change.

She deserves a husband who is learning how to connect and does the hard work in spite of insecurities and inadequacies in this area.

She deserves a husband who tells the truth about his behavior and is honest when his heart wants to wander.

She deserves a husband who does whatever it takes to change whatever wounds her.

She deserves a husband who takes responsibility for his life, rather than being a victim of circumstances, feelings, or personal history.

She deserves a husband who progresses in personal growth; who is becoming the man he’s  told her he wants to be.

She deserves a husband who is committed to perseverance and course correction; who gets up quickly after failures.

She deserves a husband who cares for himself so that he can offer her more presence and participation in daily life.

She deserves a husband who models faith, purity, passion, and purpose to their children.

She deserves a husband who acknowledges his imperfections yet resists using them as justifications for a small life.

She deserves a husband who fights for her heart.

She deserves a husband who pursues her emotional and physical safety.

She deserves a husband who cherishes her, pursues her, and defends her.

She deserves a husband who humbly responds to her personal boundaries and listens to the pain his choices have caused.

She deserves a husband who remains patient when forgiveness and trust do not come quickly.

She deserves a husband who desires her, cutting off opportunities to seek all counterfeit connections.

She deserves a husband who nurtures her, encourages her to use her gifts, and empowers her to come alive.

She deserves a husband who supports her needs for relationships, relaxation, rest, and rejuvination.

She deserves a husband who serves her, looking for ways to lighten her load.

She deserves a husband who is eager to invest both his time and attention.

She deserves a husband who sees her, knows her, and loves her.

She deserves a husband who reminds his wife every day that her value does not depend on her weight, her style, her sexiness or sexual availability, how she was treated as a child, or any other outside factor.

She deserves a husband who reminds her that she is beautiful and she is enough.

Her worth is innate and cannot be tarnished.

She deserves all of these things because she is a woman of infinite worth.

And so are you.

–By Forest Benedict

To download the PDF for husbands to print and display, click here: What My Wife Is Worth
To download the PDF for wives to print and display, click here What I Am Worth

*Special thanks to blogger Avalon Vic for creating these pdf documents for use

The Women of Value Quickening Conference begins on June 30th! To sign up for this empowering event with a 20% DISCOUNT click here. For additional articles and recovery resources, check of the LifeSTAR blog and Partner Resources page. If this piece touched your heart, I encourage you share it with others.

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 my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my upcoming BOOK.

Be Productive in Rest

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This week has been powerful and productive, as I’ve focused on God and worthy goals.

This morning as I listened quietly, I heard this:

“You were so productive on many levels (this week). Today, be productive in rest. Let Me hold you. Let your body heal. Have fun, be joyful, connect. Let my peace pass over you. And you’ll be more prepared for the week to come. Rest in Me.”

Isn’t it interesting that the word “rest” begins the word “restore”?

“Return to your rest, my soul,

for the Lord has been good to you.”

Psalm 116:7

This is my prayer and my plan for today.

The Dark Side of Sugar

Halloween Candy

Halloween is a celebration of sugar. Cloaked in creative costumes, we savor sweets in several settings, whether parading from house to house with kiddos or partying with friends. Somehow these evenings often end with a massive sugar stash or a major sugar crash. They are often inseparable.

But for those in recovery, is there a hidden danger in this excessive consumption of sugar? Is it wise for addicts in recovery to limit their consumption of sweets or is sugar intake irrelevant? I have wondered this for some time myself.

In an article by Christina Veselak, LMFT, called Relapse and Sugar Dysregulation, these questions are addressed head on. Veselak explains that “consuming a high sugar diet” is a “primary relapse trigger for all recovering addicts”. As it turns out, eating simple carbohydrates (like candy) has a rapid effect on blood sugar that can be detrimental to those in recovery. The article describes why this is true, noting how blood sugar spikes lead to “unpredictable mood and behavior swings” that “strongly induce relapse”. Conversely, “cravings, relapse, and addictive use” are induced as blood sugar drops. Dr Kelly McGonigal (12:50) echoes this perspective, sharing about how these blood sugar peaks and valleys negatively impact the brain as well. In her book The Willpower Instinct, she describes how excessive sugar obliterates self-control. For these reasons, it appears evident that sugar is a strong trigger for addictive behavior. To read about how these processes occur in the brain and body, check out this article for further details.

Another harmful character trait of sugar is that it is highly addictive (see video below). For addicts, cross-addiction with sugar is a valid possibility. In times of stress or suffering, choosing not to turn to a “drug of choice” but instead to sugar can create a new dependency. This is not successful recovery but instead trading one addiction for another.

Choosing Not to Crash

In light this information, what can be done? Dr McGonigal recommends avoiding blood sugar crashes by eating foods that give you lasting energy (click here for specific food recommendations). Similarly, in The Psysiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self-Control, Michael Gailliot explains that “restoring glucose to a sufficient level typically improves self-control”.

With this information as a guide, it is recommended that moderation and mindfulness be exercised on this popular holiday and in everyday life. It is my hope that this information will not limit your enjoyment of the festivities but instead add to a more meaningful experience with minimal triggers. May you savor this season, experiencing an abundance of  joy and authentic connection.

For additional useful tips for managing recovery over the holidays, check out “Holiday Recipes for Relapse & Recovery”. Another relevant resource is Nutrition in Addiction Recovery. For those experiencing food/sugar addiction, check out our treatment program for those seeking recovery in this area, called LifeStyle Transformation.

If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us and share this with others. Thank you!

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

A WOD to Remember

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Exactly one year ago I sat with a small group of friends as we celebrated the 40th year of our dear friend Ericlee. Swapping stories, several shared their unique memories with him. I volunteered a special memory from a shared family vacation in Mendocino where Ericlee and I woke early for a morning Crossfit exercise (WOD). After running down a row of railroad tie stairs to the beach, we beheld our natural gym. In Ericlee’s creative spirit, he directed each of us to find a set of 5 drift-wood logs, in ascending weight. Our workout consisted of carrying those water-weighted logs swiftly up those stairs then several feet away to a massive blowhole-like chasm where we’d heave them crashing down into the sea. The experience was exhilarating and challenging. I cherish that wonderful memory.

Today marks Ericlee’s 41st birthday and we only celebrate with him in spirit. Half a year ago, cancer quickly completed it’s course in Ericlee’s body. Now I hold these precious memories more tightly since no more can be made with him on this side of eternity.

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Recently I returned to that familiar staircase descending to that Mendocino beach. I did not come to that beach to cry. But as I stepped over the carcasses of fallen trees, the tears came. And I welcomed them. Almost immediately, as if God was weeping with me, it started to rain. It was a divinely comforting experience. And I spent some time there, crying and remembering my friend and our adventures together.

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I visited the blowhole before I said my goodbyes and returned to my car. There I grabbed my journal and penned these words:

“It is beyond bewilderment that we watched fireworks parade across the sky together just 2 months before his spirit was decisively divorced from his body. Sideswiped by circumstances, I stand again, this time with a cautious awareness that shipwrecks happen to the noblest of vessels. There is no immunity to mortality, as my childlike faith would have me hope. We all travel a downward staircase.”

I’m grateful for grief on that beach. I’m thankful for moments etched in memories, where Ericlee’s legacy lives on with me. Happy Birthday my friend. Today’s I’ll create and complete a WOD in your honor. No, it won’t be the same as our morning in Mendocino. But your strength inspires me in this season and in the next season we’re sure to do many WODs side by side again.

Maybe Jesus will join us.

I’ll see you in a little while
It won’t be too long now
We’ll see it on the other side
The wait was only the blink of an eye
So I’m not gonna say goodbye
‘Cause I’ll see you in a little while”

-Steven Curtis Chapman

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT

Christians and Candy

Did you know that “excessive sugar obliterates self-control” and “is a strong trigger for addictive behavior”? In a season (and in a culture) that incessantly seeks sugar, this science is important. If we as Christians want to obey the many commands of scripture to be a self-controlled people and desire not to be mastered by anything (1 Cor 6:12), this news is noteworthy (see my previous article The Science of Self-Control: Why Christians Are Called to Self-Care for additional info). I encourage you to read my newest article entitled The Scary Side of Sugar to learn more about sugar’s detrimental effects and what can be done to counter them.

I am not arguing here that sugar is evil and must be avoided at all costs. But I believe a call to wisdom and moderation on this holiday of excess is in order. As a lover of sugar, I know I need this reminder. As I noted in the Sugar article “it is my hope that this information will not limit your enjoyment of the festivities but instead add to a more meaningful experience” Whether we celebrate Halloween or not, may we all shine brightly on this holiday that too often glorifies darkness, fear, and self-indulgence. May we be outwardly focused, that the aroma of our love for others would surpass the sweetness of temporary sugar fixes, that those we encounter would experience Christ in and through us.

Wishing you and yours “an abundance of joy and authentic connection” throughout this holiday season.