Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail ~ blog
Some believe Benjamin Franklin was the first to make this statement.
Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail
A similar saying is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill –
“Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
And Thomas Edison said –
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
All three of these statements can be summed up with the idea that we all need to learn from our mistakes. This is something we have done most of our lives in many areas. For example, don’t eat two bean burritos from Taco Bell before getting on a long airplane flight. Or, don’t call in sick to work and then bump into your boss on the golf course. Or, don’t be alone in the Oval Office with a young and attractive intern especially if you are a sex addict.
When it comes to making progress in the recovery from our sexual brokenness, the ability to learn from our mistakes and then creating a plan on how to avoid future temptations is most essential.
This is something I have been doing for 14+ years. When my recovery began my intention was to never again look at porn and/or masturbate. Ignoring the reality of a 40-year-old habit of turning to a sexual release in order to momentarily avoid stress, and how difficult it would be to get through withdrawal, we want to make this sudden change because we have been discovered and repent.
However, good intentions do not a habit break. As the months began to unfold and my wife and I were still reeling from this suddenly exposed reality, the pull of lust and the stress of the painful place we were in began to mount. So, three months into my recovery I had a fall. No porn but masturbating to sexual thoughts.
I have had 8 falls in 14+ years. All were times when I gave in to masturbation. Some of those times involved some porn. I wish I had none but that is simply not my reality. I had no intention of falling. I was well aware of the danger of continuing to fall could lead me back into my addiction. However, I believe that what I learned from my falls was extremely instrumental in helping me grow in my recovery. I have learned from my mistakes.
Here is what I have learned about learning from my mistakes.
First – I must be honest and tell the truth if I have a fall. I have an agreement with my wife that if or when I have a fall, I would tell her within 24 hours. That wasn’t in place in the beginning. When I had my first few falls, during the first 4 years, it was agonizingly painful while I kept it a secret. I knew that if I pretended nothing had happened, I was going back to being a phony and that could have serious consequences with me going back to my addiction.
Second – I learned I must analyze my falls to figure out why it happened and what led up to it. This helped me to learn what circumstances caused me to feel more tempted. Also, I became more self-aware of how I was feeling and when I felt down or stressed, I could count on temptation increasing. So, I learned to talk with my wife and my accountability group about what I was feeling and thinking.
Third – I needed to set new boundaries with strong consequences. If the boundary I had set was not good enough to keep me from falling back into sexual sin, then I needed a better boundary. So, for example, I found that YouTube was a place I should not even go to. There is just too much sexually-oriented and visual stuff to get me to fall in sin. So, my new boundary way no YouTube unless it is strictly to learn how to do something … like installing a toilet.
Fourth – I needed to establish STRONG consequences that would stop me in my tracks because the consequence would be very painful. I call it setting a bear trap as a consequence instead of a mousetrap. A mousetrap has but little consequence apart from some minor pain. A bear trap would cost me my leg.
Because I have made it my habit to not allow any falls or slips to go without learning from it, my falls and slips have actually helped me grow in my recovery and create a better plan that will keep me from more falling.
It has been 407 days since my last fall and I now believe that as long as I maintain my growing relationship with Christ and daily walking in the Spirit, putting on the full armor of God, I can go the rest of my life without another fall. However, that would be the result of having a plan and working my plan … one day at a time.