How to beat porn and sex addiction with an “attitude of gratitude” – Part Two

Welcome back to our 2-part blog series on practicing gratitude in porn and sex addiction recovery. Last month, we looked at the benefits of practicing an attitude of gratitude as well as the relationship between gratitude and reward in sex and porn addiction. This month, we’re going to look at different methods of cultivating a grateful mindset which you can practice in daily life to help you in your journey to porn and sex addiction recovery.

How to practice gratitude in sex and porn addiction recovery.

So how can we practice an attitude of gratitude in aid of recovery? What practical steps can we take? First and foremost, whilst simply feeling grateful is helpful, research suggests that the act of expressing gratitude is more effective in the long run. For example, instead of simply feeling grateful for a loved one’s act of kindness, actively go out of your way to thank them sincerely. Some other activities include:  

  • Keeping a gratitude journal or list.

Try writing down at least 3 things every day that you’re grateful for. Remember, the more frequently we make the effort to do this, the deeper these feelings will be entrenched in our neural pathways and the more natural and innate it will be to feel positive. As a bonus, a journal or list can be kept and read again during tough times, perhaps after a relapse, when it might be difficult to feel grateful. It can serve as a powerful reminder of everything we have to be thankful for and help us focus on what is going right in life, rather than what’s going wrong.

  • Express gratitude and compliment those around you.

Paying someone a compliment is a simple act of kindness that is guaranteed to make not only the receiver feel good, but also the one giving the compliment. Equally, whilst most people would thank certain people automatically, such as the waiter who brings you your food or the cashier that helps you with your shopping, also take note of those who are going the extra mile and show that you acknowledge and appreciate them. You could do this in the moment, in person, or even try writing letters or emails to a loved one that has helped you. Either way, this is guaranteed to strengthen relationships and improve connection with others. We should never underestimate how much brighter we can make someone else’s day and, as a result, make our own a little brighter too.

  • Connect with people and help others.

Connecting with both loved ones and new people can be an incredibly powerful way of cultivating gratitude. Reflecting on our existing relationships leads us to feel more grateful and connected, and as an additional bonus, this increased closeness helps motivate and sustain our efforts at self-improvement, which is hugely valuable in recovery. Remember the famous words of Johann Hari in his TED Talk on addiction: “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection.” Feeling seen and heard by people who care for us is an experience that is bound to produce gratitude and furthermore, it is an experience we can return. By helping those in need, either through volunteering, fundraising or simply lending a compassionate ear, we can give back to our community. Not only does this make us feel more grateful for what we have but research has shown that volunteering to help others increases our own wellbeing, and thus our ability to cultivate more gratitude.

  • Whenever negative thoughts close in on you, shift your focus to what you are thankful for, including the small things.

On days where it feels like everything is going wrong, it may be harder to feel grateful for what you have. But practicing gratitude for even the most mundane things that many people take for granted is equally important. For example, having food in the fridge, a comfortable bed, and a roof over your head. These are not small things but it’s easy to overlook them. Practicing gratitude daily is effectively a consistent effort to rewire our brains to focus on the positive and have a more optimistic and hopeful outlook on life. Some days, the list may seem profound and endless and on other days, you may have to dig deep and focus on the fundamental basics like food and shelter. The important thing is to ensure that the list is never empty.

  • Make time for reflection.

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is still worth highlighting. None of the above tools work effectively unless we actively make the time to look at our lives and reflect on what enriches it. We cannot change our outlook on life if we do not think about it or ignore it. And as we all know, when you examine something more closely, there is often something new to be found. Life can be busy and chaotic and if it is proving difficult to find the time for reflection, try setting alarms to remind yourself. To focus, it often helps to change your environment so a popular way of getting yourself in the right headspace is to go for a walk and be amongst nature. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or right before you go to sleep, make sure you find time to reflect on what you’re grateful for.

So, there you have it. Whether we like it or not, practicing “an attitude of gratitude” isn’t just a feel-good emotion. It has been proven time and time again to have a plethora of benefits, both psychological and physical. And if you’re someone who is struggling with addiction, including sex and/or porn, cultivating a thankful mindset with daily exercises in gratitude will have a positive and powerful impact on your recovery journey as it motivates you, inspires you and steers you away from negative thought patterns.

If you’re struggling with sex or porn addiction and want someone to talk to, you can use our ‘Talk to a Therapist’ service to find out more about the services we offer, both for people struggling with addiction, and those who love them.

On the power of connection, we also run a 6-day residential programme which has been proven to be effective for long-term recovery – you can read our peer reviewed results by clicking here. Our next course starts on 15th July 2024 so please do get in touch ASAP for more information or if you’d like to sign-up.