Tools for Battling Fantasy, Lust, & Unwanted Thoughts

Staci Sprout, Quote Clouds Fantasy

Do you struggle with unwanted thoughts? Most of us do. If you want some help in this arena, start with reading the above quote by Staci Sprout. In Life After Lust, I provided many more strategies for battling lust. Which ones help you the most? What other strategies help you modify your thought patterns?

We can be free from the thoughts that tempt us to return to old, addictive, and self-destructive behavior. May we learn to let go of unwanted thoughts, replacing them with those that uplift and inspire us.

 

*Artwork created by Forest Benedict (aka Me)

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

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Audiobook News: The Ripple Effects of Life After Lust

AudiobookNews

I recently received my first report outlining how many copies of the Life After Lust audiobook were purchased. I am grateful to announce that there are currently a total of 199 copies of the audiobook circulating in the US, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Denmark, the UK, Ireland, & Japan! I am delighted that the message of recovery is reaching across the globe! As I dream up future recovery resources to reach the world, I am grateful that this audiobook continues to make a difference in online stores, libraries, and beyond.

If you contributed to the audiobook Kickstarter, you made this possible! I am forever grateful for you.

In Gratitude,

Forest

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

 

 

Warrior

_Often the wounded make the mightiest warriors._

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

Finish Strong

Finish Strong FemaleFinish Strong

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Joe Saavedra & The Evil Genius

Evil Genius Quote

As a teacher, this is a proud moment for me. One of my SATP students is wasting no time at making waves in the world. Joe Saavedra, LMFT, SATP (student) just landed a writing gig on Rob Weiss’ Sex & Relationship Healing blog! You may know that Rob Weiss is one of the most prominent leaders in the sex addiction treatment field (I will forever be gratefully shocked that he endorsed Life After Lust). So, I am incredibly proud of Joe for playing big with his life and using his expertise and recovery story to impact others.

If that wasn’t enough, you know what Joe went ahead and did in his newly published post called The Question of Identity? He quoted Life After Lust, introducing a character in my book called The Evil Genius. I feel deeply honored by Joe’s generosity in doing this and hope that this exposure will help more people experience healing.

I invite you to read Joe’s article, subscribe to Rob’s blog, and think about what place the Evil Genius has in your life and recovery.

Watch out world! Joe Saavedra is equipped, skilled, and more passionate than me about sexual addiction recovery. He is making an impact and, trust me, this is only the beginning.

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Re-Imagining Sex in Recovery: A Paradigm Shift is Possible

Re-Imagining Sex in recovery

Today I am thrilled to share with you two excellent resources related to sexual addiction recovery and sexual health. First, I want to share with you a chapter from Life After Lust called Connected Sex: A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted. This is the first time I have publicly shared this chapter in its entirely. I hope you find it mind-expanding and life-altering.

Second, skilled and knowledgeable specialist in sexual addiction treatment, Valerie Hamaker, has created a valuable online course series on healthy sexuality and  sexual addiction recovery. I highly recommend this series! It is a great resource for recovering individuals and couples, as well as professionals. I recently added her first two lessons on Healthy Sexuality to my Introduction to Sexual Addiction Treatment class in the SATP program. It is high-quality content that is well worth the investment. Will you help me spread the word about this excellent resource? (Click here to learn more).

May these resources help you experience deeper healing and increased sexual health.

Chapter 22

Connected Sex:
A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted

From Life After Lust, Copyright © 2017 by Forest Benedict

Skill to Master #21: Learning to emotionally connect with my partner

Skill to Master #22: Practicing a healthy, connected sexuality

It may go without saying but sex is a significant topic for recovering sex addicts. As a sex addiction therapist, I tell my clients that successful recovery necessitates a new view of sexuality. Rather than seeing sex as a numbing agent, instead, sex in recovery is a connecting agent. This transition in thinking and practice is difficult, since sex addicts inherently have a dysfunctional relationship with sex, rooted in an intimacy disorder.

A Sex Addict’s Sex Life

There are many ways in which a sex addict’s perception of sex is distorted and unhealthy. In her TEDx Talk on Sex and Intimacy, Dr. Sue Johnson superbly explained the dynamics of connected and disconnected sex. Her explanation of sealed off sex is characteristic of the sex addict’s experience because it lacks emotional intimacy, is solely sensation and performance focused, and leaves individuals feeling lonely. Sex addicts may also seek out solace sex, where the focus is on reassurance rather than sexual passion. The significance of both of these sex styles is that they are rooted in insecure attachment patterns, which are common among sex addicts. Dr. Linda Hatch similarly describes the sex life of sex addicts, writing:

Even when the sex addict is having sex with a partner or spouse, it is often the case that the addict is not “all there.” He or she may be lost in fantasy or just going through the motions. Many addicts feel they are having satisfying sex with their partners when in fact they are not really able to be present.

I often describe this dynamic to my clients as “using your partner to masturbate.” Sex for the sex addict is an experience of emotional disconnection. The sex addict sees sex as a drug and distraction, not a profound point of connection. The sex addict hijacks sexuality to get their self-focused high. This distorts the very purpose of the sexual experience.

Sex for the sex addict is lust-driven, not love-driven. Regardless of whether a sex addict objectifies a stranger or their partner, connection never results.

Another pattern that some sex addicts experience is called sexual anorexia, which occurs when a person avoids sex and emotional connection completely. Alexandra Katehakis explains that “where sex addicts ‘act out’ or ‘binge’ through promiscuity or high-risk behavior, sexual anorexics starve themselves by ‘acting in,’ denying themselves the pleasure of relationships, dating, loving touch, and genuine connection with others.” Sometimes, both acting out and acting in dynamics are at play, creating a sexual bulimic like cycle of sexual binging and purging.

As you can see, there are many potential scenarios that explain the sex addict’s misguided use of sex. Difficulties ensue when sex is used solely for coping, not connecting.

All About Intimacy

In their book The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy, Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw explain that “one of the greatest challenges facing couples in recovery is learning how to be emotionally and sexually intimate after the relationship has absorbed a direct hit.” A couple reeling from this type of relational trauma has a lot of hard work ahead.

As recovery progresses, sex addicts have the opportunity to see sex with new eyes. They can learn to appreciate a depth to sex they never knew before, experiencing what Katehakis describes as the “sensuality of connected closeness.” Connected sex, or synchrony sex, is a bonding experience that includes openness, play, and sexual passion. As connected sex becomes a new ideal, the addict will find that this transformation requires something quite unexpected: a foundation of emotional connection. This is the key to a quality sexual relationship.

The core of good sex is safety and connection, but these are two areas in which sex addicts experience extreme deficiencies. Most couples working toward fostering emotional intimacy will need extensive work with an attachment-based sex addiction therapist. Learning to deeply connect with their partner is an essential skill for sexual addicts in recovery.

This type of learning requires guidance, work, and a plethora of patience, but with the right help there is hope. Active recovery is necessary for any couple working toward increased connection. If the addict is engaging in their acting-out behaviors, the addiction becomes a competing attachment, hindering the couple’s closeness. Thus, sobriety is a starting line for the couple’s successful connection journey.

Often recovering sex addicts, whether in a relationship or single, abstain from masturbation as part of their sobriety. This makes more sense when sex is seen as a connecting experience rather than a solo act. When masturbation is lust-driven, compulsive, or sought out for emotional comfort, this behavior plays a key role in the addictive cycle. Still, there are varying views on the topic of masturbation in recovery, which is another reason why seeking guidance from a sex addiction therapist is recommended.

In early recovery, it is common for sex addiction therapists to prescribe a period of sexual celibacy from all expressions of sexuality, including with their partner. This orchestrated season of abstinence can have many benefits for the addict, partner, and couple, including taking the “sexual pressure off of the relationship so the couple can work on play and communication.” This period can offer a detox from unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs about sex, clearing the way for other forms of connection.

On the pathway to connected sexuality, there may be many detours. Sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, medical issues, distrust, trauma, and other factors may complicate the couple’s sexual experience, requiring additional help from a sex therapist, doctor, or other professional. Patterns of sexual avoidance grounded in a partner’s lack of emotional safety or using sex as an attempt to control the addict’s behavior should be addressed with a sex addiction therapist.

The Powerful Potential of Connected Sex

When a sex addict learns to experience sex as the “potent bonding activity” it can be, this is a massive mental shift for them. Instead of using sex as a drug: to escape, numb, or avoid, sex can become a source of satisfaction. Healing from a shame-based sexuality will be part of the process. Learning how to leave lust and objectification out of the bedroom are additional aims of recovery.

The truth is, all connection work in recovery, whether emotional or sexual, will require the help of those who know the way. The Bercaws’ book is an excellent resource for couples impacted by sex addiction. I love the vision they cast of what a recovered sex life can look like:

You can know for perhaps the first time in your entire life what it feels like to embrace a passionate and fully satisfying sex life while retaining your integrity and while being more fully present.

Katehakis casts a similar vision of healthy sexuality, calling it “a profoundly new experience. It has the ring of innocence and simplicity, devoid of addictive adrenalized and dopaminergic intensity. For the first time, the psyche and body do not melt in disarray afterward. Healthy sex can make amends to the self and to the partner. When partners join in an open-hearted and present way, sex becomes a genuine act of love in the moment and leaves both parties feeling good afterward.”

Imagine that: A shame-free sexuality. A satisfying experience of secret-free sex based on love. This is what lust always promised but never delivered.

Dr. Mark Laaser tells a story of one recovering couple who experienced non-addictive sex for the first time. Their time together ended in a loving embrace and joyful tears. This is the prospect of connected sexuality.

As we grow in our willingness to challenge and change our distorted views of sex, we can learn to experience a more fulfilling, connected, and healthy sexuality. A paradigm shift is possible.

 

References:

Benedict, F. (2016, October 20). Connected Sex: A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted.

Bercaw, B., & Bercaw, G. (2010). The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy: How Sexual Reintegration Therapy Can Help Your Relationship Heal. California Center for Healing. 7, 11.

Hatch, L. (2012, February 15). Why is Sex Addiction Called an Intimacy Disorder? Retrieved from http://www.sexaddictionscounseling.com/why-is-sex-addiction-called- an-intimacy-disorder/

Johnson, S. (2015, July 28). The New Frontier of Sex & Intimacy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiVijMLH2-k

Johnson, S. (2017). Three Kinds of Sex. Retrieved from http://www.drsuejohnson.com/attachment-sex/three-kinds-sex/#more-185

Katehakis, A. (2014, August 12). The Devastating Pain of ‘Sexual Anorexics’ Retrieved from https://www.psychologytodahttps://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex- lies-trauma/201408/the-devastating-pain-sexual-anorexics

Katehakis, A., & Schore, A. N. (2016). Sex addiction as affect dysregulation: a neurobiologically informed holistic treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Laaser, M. R. (2004). Healing the wounds of sexual addiction. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 182.

Reid, R. C., & Woolley, S. R. (2006). Using Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples to Resolve Attachment Ruptures Created by Hypersexual Behavior. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13(2-3), 219-239.

Sexaholics Anonymous. (1989-2002). Sexaholics Anonymous. SA Literature. 40-42. Elements Behavioral Health. (2013, November 15). Sexual Anorexia Within Sexual Addiction. Retrieved from http://www.hypersexualdisorders.com/sex-addiction/sexual- anorexia-within-sexual-addiction/

Weiss, R. (n.d.). Sex Addicts and “Sexual Sobriety”. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/08/sexual-sobriety/

Zapf, J. L., Greiner, J., & Carroll, J. (2008). Attachment Styles and Male Sex Addiction. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 15(2), 158-175.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

30 Free Life After Lust Audiobook Codes: What Could I Do With Them?

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 12.50.06 PM

I have a great problem. Can you help me? I was given 30 free audiobook codes for my new audiobook and I don’t know what to do with them….yet.

Here are some ideas I have:

  1. Give one audiobook to 30 people in 30 different countries to help spread the hope of recovery worldwide (Who knows, maybe this will help the book get translated?)
  2. Give the audiobook to those who would benefit from it but cannot afford it (how could I find them?)
  3. Give the audiobook to those who would benefit from it but cannot read it (those who are blind or visually impaired or have ADHD – how could I find them?)
  4. Give the audiobook out in exchange for Audible & iTunes reviews (I have zero iTunes reviews and 4 Audible reviews now)
  5. Give the audiobook to participants in my online Life After Lust recovery groups (I’m dreaming those up now – they are not yet created)
  6. Give the audiobooks to my students in the next SATP cohort (my class begins in 2 weeks!)
  7. Give the audiobook to participants in our upcoming Phase 1 intensive in Sacramento or to future participants in my Life After Lust Workshops

What creative ideas do you have? I want to leverage this gift to help the most people possiblesharing this life-changing resource with others.

Feel free to email any ideas to me at forest@forestbenedict.com or comment below.

Thanks for you help!

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

Three Small Favors: Help Spread the Hope of Healing

3 Small Favors

I have three small favors to ask. I’ll be honest, it’s hard asking for something more after receiving so much of your generous support. But there is something you can help with that I can’t do for myself. So, I’ll ask anyway, trusting that if it fits for you, you’ll help out, and if it doesn’t fit, no worries.

I just received word that the Life After Lust audiobook is now live online. This is a long-awaited milestone worth celebrating! THANK YOU all for your support and encouragement in helping me reach this goal. Now, I could use your help in one of three ways:
1) Listen to these audiobook samples and share this link with others
2) Write a short review on one of the audiobook sites below to help others see the value of the new Life After Lust audiobook (you could even copy your previous review from Amazon)
3) Share any of the following links with your networks (you never know who needs the hope of healing):
iTunes (search Life After Lust in app)
Will you help me launch the hope of healing across the internet? Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Every seed we scatter matters.
In deep gratitude,
Forest
Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

A Day of Change: Leading Men Into Life After Lust

 

LAL Workshop Testimony

The 17 men I met up with this weekend were in for the surprise of their lives. To be honest, I don’t know what they expected but what I was prepared to share was not how to avoid porn or how to stop lying to those they loved. This first Life After Lust Workshop was aimed at giving them what I thought they needed, not necessarily what I assumed they wanted. My aim was to heighten awareness on how to change, connecting them with their strongest resource for recovery: their very selves.

The content prepared was potent and powerful, aimed at challenging their beliefs, teaching them tools, and calling them up to create a new life. The day that ensued was life-changing. That’s what one man shared with me when it came to a close.

In 5.75 hours we adventured through the Mindset, Mastery, and Mission sections of my book, doing 12 exercises (from visualizations, to writing, to experiences), listening to 9 tracks from the new Life After Lust audiobook, and watching 8 videos (including VLOG and inspirational/educational videos).

This was one of the most meaningful days of my life. Living in a season of my deepest inner work to date, I felt at ease, leading the men deeper into themselves and into their awareness that real change was possible. I’m so proud of those men for the bold steps they took that day. I savored the moment, now I savor the memory, wondering when I’ll get to share this valuable content again.

I will never fully know what ripple effects resulted from that day. What I know for sure is that big, beautiful seeds were planted. One participant contacted me a couple days after the event sharing how he started running after months of passivity and was infused with the new mindset that he is responsible for the reality he creates.

He shared, “Your seminar is already causing me to think about my future, who I want to be, and being able to take care of myself. The biggest thing for me was owning my choices, owning my mistakes, and realizing that I have the ability and the power to choose something different for myself. And that if I wanted something good, it’s going to take some work. That is a big mental shift that I needed. I’m actually trying to live a little bit differently. I already feel different. I feel stronger and more capable, at least on the inside. Also, the workshop helped me summon the courage to work through my bitterness from a past relationship and move on. So, thank you! Your stuff is helping me out already so I just want to let you know that.”

Hearing how he was impacted infuses me with satisfaction and joy. It is a very real validation that the healing path I am on is packed with ever-explanding affects on others. The higher I grow, the further I can go with anyone willing to follow.

I wonder where this workshop will want to go next. It will soon be in Sacramento again. And I have a feeling in the near future I’ll have a female workshop. I’m already dreaming up ideas for that.

The course I’ve created here can impact the world. For now, I’ll get back to writing, waiting for the next invitation. Who knows? Maybe my next workshop will be with you.

Future create LAL Quote

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

The Potential to Change: Join Us In Just 3 Days

The potential to change

Fourteen years ago, I drove to Sacramento for a recovery event that changed the course of my life. This Saturday, I am leading a recovery event in Sacramento that could change the course of many other men’s lives. In just three days I will share stories and strategies from my book Life After Lust that have strengthened myself and many others in recovery. This event will bring hope to those caught in addiction, those long in recovery, and those just wanting to connect with themselves and grow.

I am SO excited!

I love how life gives us opportunities like this to turn our pain into purpose. As I creatively and strategically prepare for this event, I am both grateful for this opportunity and excited to plant powerful seeds that I trust will sprout into amazing fruit that will impact the world. Who knows, maybe some of these men will catch a glimpse of the hope of recovery, master what they learn, and someday lead others into healing and a changed life. It may sound unbelievable but I’ve seen such miracles. I’ve lived such miracles. If you want to see what potential is packaged in a handful of hours, join us this Saturday in Sacramento. I look forward to meeting you there, in just 3 days.

Click here to sign up (If you can’t make it this time, sign up here for announcements of future events)

**** PS: The Life After Lust Audiobook will make it debut at this event and be available in some venues this Saturday as well!

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!