Differentiating Between “Real Costs” Versus “Opportunity Costs” When It Comes To Recovery From Unwanted Sexual Behaviors

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We’ve all heard at Purify Your Gaze the personal tragedies that addictions bring.

We are all familiar with the common ones, resulting in loss of relationships like marriage, people losing their jobs, or their faith.

There’s a real cost and price that individuals have to pay because of their addictions but I think why it’s truly a deadly killer is not just because of these real costs, it’s also because of what we’re going to talk about in this article, which is opportunity costs.

A lot of people focus on the major or ‘real’ costs of their addiction, things that only affect them or others.

They get fired at work, or they lose their marriage, or disobey Allah or they miss prayer. These costs are easily identifiable and are tangible enough if one were to sit down and measure them.

You won’t get a true picture of what your unwanted sexual behaviors are really costing you if you focus on these real costs alone. To get a full picture, you need to also entertain and calculate the opportunity costs of your addiction.

The reason why it is very important that you do calculate these opportunity costs, is that it may be the very thing affecting you in your motivation to change.

While it may bring pain to reflect on the wasted potential of these opportunities, it can also bring you to a place where you can reflect on the potential of joy and happiness these things can bring you.

“Brother Asim’s critical moment came when he recognized some of his opportunities that were forever lost because of his sex addiction.”

These are the very things that create proactivity and empower you in your road to recovery.

Opportunity costs are usually things that you really value and want, that are being affected. Instead of spending your time in more wholesome ways, this time is instead being spent on your addiction and will never come back.

Brother Asim is one of our coaching clients, who had a hard time connecting with the destructiveness of his addiction.

He was asked to sit down and recognize the biggest costs that his unwanted sexual behaviors have had on his life. He listed out the major costs of his addiction on his life and here is what he recognized:

  1. Facing my wife after she caught me texting another girl and listening to her cry in the other room, thinking that I’m going to lose her.
  2. Admitting to my wife that I had an addiction to pornography.
  3. Masturbating when on Umrah as a college student.
  4. Once ignoring my daughter’s cries while I looked at pornography.
  5. Often feeling completed physically drained from hours of looking at pornography and feeling like I’m helpless.

His critical moment though came when he recognized some of his opportunities that were forever lost because of his sex addiction:

“I know this happened more than once. I remember one time, in particular, being in my parents’ house when I was in law school, visiting my parents, and all of my sister and my sisters’ kids were downstairs hanging out with my parents, and I sort of locked myself to my room looking at pornography.

“It makes me sad in a sense that I spent so much time on this, and everybody sort of had this idea of their life that they’re family oriented and connected to decent things. And from doing those decent things like spending time with your family and building memories with them, was part of that ideal life. I feel like I missed out on a lot of stuff because of the fact that I am attracted to things that are not wholesome and good.

“I think anytime I could have spent with my nieces and nephews when they were kids, I felt that was a time lost In being aloof and away from them. Those are times where they are younger, where they were looking to spend time with their uncle. I definitely feel that I missed out on spending that time with them, to build that relationship and build that bond even stronger.”
-Br. Asim

The reality of Asim’s unwanted sexual behaviors is that not only did they consume his time, physical and emotional health, or ‘real costs,’ what truly was lost forever was the opportunity of joy and happiness between the uncle and nieces in those moments he acted out.

And that was an opportunity lost for sure.

When it comes to you and you similarly reflect on your situation, opportunities may have been lost, but it does not have to stop you from intentionally designing a life where you are able to experience joy in a way that is wholesome and brings value to those around you.

Each and every individual be they in our program at Purify Your Gaze have had this moment of truth where they realized they couldn’t keep fighting the addiction.

They were completely broken by their addiction, but that served as an impetus to start their healing and their recovery.

Facing these moments of truth, instead of running away from reality, is what truly brings you the right motivation to change, to change not only yourself but the fruits of your life changing positively impacts the lives of those around you.

  • Abdul Wadud says:

    So true and indeed very scary. Although reflecting upon these lost opportunities is very painful, as Ustadh pointed out, it is necessary. “What you resist will persist.” If you keep resisting thinking about these uncomfortable things, you will persist in losing those opportunities again and again.

  • Justice says:

    May Allah reward you for this article brother. I read a lot about this addiction and I still learn, this was one of those unique pieces of puzzle I needed, golden information to keep things in perspective.

  • B2k says:

    I’ve not ever sat down and calculated opportunity costs – sounds scary, but necessary. Thanks Br. Zeyad for the needed push!

  • Adam says:

    I really hope to benefit