In fact, I personally hold the belief that if you are trying to navigate the sticky world of recovery and sexual integrity by yourself, you’re going to be spinning your wheels for a long time.
I’ve just seen it play out that way far too often.
This is why we have online recovery communities like the Live Free Community and Small Groups Online.
But, there’s no denying that I’ve met many guys who’ve tried “the group thing” and have not had great experiences. In fact, I’ve had a few men claim that their small group participation actually hurt their recovery efforts.
Of course, I have to take that feedback with a grain of salt because so much of that comes down to personal expectations and the like.
Yet, I do believe that if a small group or support group experience is to offer the best benefit and most help, there needs to be certain qualities to that experience.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating a small group or support group program.
In support groups especially, there simply is no room for shallow conversations or half-truths. I’ve attended far too many men’s groups where the sharing is clearly guarded and guys dance around the real issues they face because they don’t want to look stupid.
I’ve got news for you…
Being open about your struggles is not stupid. But showing up to a group each week to waste an hour of your day just so you can exchange surface level information is kinda stupid.
Don’t waste your time on a group if the flavor of that group is blander than the coffee they serve.
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In “accountability” and recovery groups, this can happen often. Guys show up each week just to confess what they did, ask for prayer, say they’re going to try harder, and then come back with the same old script the following week.
In other words, nothing changes.
The power of a support or small group experience is found less in your confession, and more in listening to the other members and what they are processing in their own journeys.
– Yes, be honest about your struggles.
– Yes, ask for prayer.
– Yes, process your decisions with the other members.
But then sit back and listen to everyone else. Because when you do, it’s just a matter of time until you hear a fresh perspective on a common struggle you face and have felt stonewalled by.
– Maybe it’s work stress.
– Maybe it’s the lack of sex in your marriage.
– Maybe it’s dealing with your wife’s anger and frustrations.
Whatever the issue, there are other guys who face the same issues. And I guarantee at least a few of them will have some good ideas you can apply to your situation that may help change things up for the better.
You may be tempted to dismiss this idea as important, but I think your group experience needs to be enjoyable for it to be sustainable. There are too many groups and programs out there (especially super religious and behavior modification focused ones) that are, in plain terms, just hard to take.
In the groups I lead, I make it a priority to keep things fun and enjoyable. Yes, we are there to talk about tough issues, and it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; but I want the guys in my group to look forward to their time together and not view it as a “necessary evil” in their recovery journey.
The truth is, if you are constantly looking at your watch counting the minutes until it’s time to leave or sign off, then you’re gonna have a difficult time sustaining your efforts and participation.
– Being addicted to porn sucks.
– Having marital stress sucks.
– Feeling shame about your choices sucks.
But relationships should be life-giving and enjoyable.
After all, we are wired for connection, so embrace the opportunity and enjoy your time together.
At the end of the day, a support group or small group is a very valuable tool for your recovery efforts, and the relationships you gain from those groups can be life-changing and meaningful.
But, make sure the group you join is actually going to help you and, if not, maybe look at some other options.
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