I was fed up of living a double life. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I wanted to be able to stand in prayer and live my life with true happiness that comes from the heart. These thoughts pushed me to raise my standards – I knew higher standards would be essential in my toolkit for my path to healing from unwanted sexual behaviors.
What did standards mean to me?
My personal standards were what I expected from myself and how I wanted to be. For example, I was no longer happy with my body shape. I was fat. I used to always wear oversized clothes, and I hated being like this. I raised my standards by saying to myself I no longer accepted being overweight and as a result, I made a change and started to exercise.
In coaching with Ustadh Zeyad, I did an exercise called ‘My ideal day’. I listed out all the areas in my life which I was not happy about because of wasting time watching pornography. I then listed out the costs of these behaviors which led me to maintain low standards.
After I started using the Breaking Free Program and enrolled in coaching, I discovered that I needed to change my attitude to life. I needed to stop surviving and needed to start thriving. I said to myself I no longer want minimum results – I now desire maximum results!
So what were the costs of my unwanted sexual behaviors in my life and what needed to be done about these costs in order to raise my standards?
1. The costs of my unwanted sexual behaviors
My Fajr prayer
I missed my Fajr prayer regularly. This was because I slept late the night before due to spending time viewing pornography online. Missing Fajr made me have a terrible day – it felt devoid of blessing, and I had so much regret as I knew it was unacceptable to miss a prayer intentionally. I didn’t have the motivation to get up from my bed as I felt that I had sinned the night before, which caused a spiritual disconnection from Allah. I saw my worship to Allah as a chore as a result of my addiction – prayer was just a task in my life from which I did not gain any fulfilment. In a vicious circle, this unhappiness constantly made me turn to pornography in order to find happiness.
I wasted hours in front of the computer – especially on work nights. As a consequence, I was late for work, I felt tired throughout the day and this lead me to have an unproductive day. One day, I was given a project by my manager and what I produced was, to be honest, rubbish – I just wasn’t in the mood to put any effort into it. My manager told me off quite frankly which was very embarrassing. This was just totally below the standards I knew I was capable of. The other problem with work was that I never used my time productively. Instead, I used to just clock watch all day, waiting for the hours to go by until it was time to go home.
As a result of my unwanted sexual behaviors, I missed homework deadlines for my Arabic course which meant that I didn’t learn the content properly, and I fell behind. My laziness and lack of motivation resulted in me not doing any work, and so I didn’t understand what was going on in class. I felt depressed from not putting in the effort I was capable of which lead me to watching pornography as that gave me the momentary pleasure of ‘happiness’.
2. How I went about raising my standards
Firstly, I wrote down what the costs of my unwanted sexual behaviors were, which allowed me to put my thoughts in front of eyes so I could read, actualize and comprehend my behavior. Then, in order to change my standards, I wrote down everything I wanted to become. This first required me to invert the above scenarios into positives. How would life look like for me if I did do all my homework and study for my Arabic course? How would work be for me if I slept earlier? And how would my day be if I was motivated enough to wake up for Fajr? By looking at the costs of my behaviors and turning them into positives, I was actually motivated to live my ‘ideal day’.
The next stage involved me putting my new standards that I wanted into practice. I did this by using the self-care tracker that was available through coaching with Ustadh Zeyad. I listed all the positive behaviors mentioned above I wanted and logged them on to the tracker every evening, which helped me see which ones I had achieved every day. Tracking was so important as I challenged myself to have no crosses next to any of my new positive behavior standards. This allowed me to push myself and demand from myself new ways of living my life which helped in my healing – I now focused on alternative things that I could do in my life.
During Ramadan 2014, I had my Arabic exam. I put so much effort in revising for this exam as I knew I was capable of getting a top grade because I was living by my new standards. As a result, I achieved 91% in the exam. That made me jump for joy, and that was the best Ramadan I’d ever had in my life because I was living by my new standards.
This is the way the Breaking Free Program and coaching helped me raise my standards and made my journey so far a successful way of being free from unwanted sexual behaviors.