A lot of people spend time looking for major signs that suggest that they are addicted, such as the frequency of engaging in their unwanted sexual behaviors in a week or in a month, or how compulsively they are accessing pornography.
If these signs are not there, they discard themselves from suffering from unwanted sexual behaviors, deeming them to not be as serious or harmful.
You may be waiting for something really bad to happen to you to suggest that you are in fact addicted to your unwanted sexual behaviors.
What you may not realize is that there are smaller, more subtle signs around you that also point out to the same problem suggesting that you are in fact struggling with your unwanted sexual behaviors.
Among these signs are:
– Racing to snatch the phone out of your family member’s hands, because of what’s on the browser history, and feeling guilty and anxious.
– Feeling nervous about someone using your computer because you’re afraid of pornographic images popping up
– Anticipating and preplanning in your head the next time you’re going to engage in your sexual behaviors
– Lying to get out of family commitments just to be alone at home to engage in your unwanted sexual behaviors
– Slipping into watching pornography a couple of times and thinking it as nothing serious
You may have discounted these signs saying, “Oh Alhamdullilah that used to be me, that’s not me anymore,” but here are even more subtle signs to consider:
– Browsing online endlessly. Looking for funny videos on YouTube just to waste time.
– If someone asks you how you’re doing and you answer with “Alhamdullilah,” you’re afraid of really answering how you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
– You find yourself daydreaming a lot about a fantasy, wishing your life was different. You’re not really living your life. This leads to procrastination at school or work.
– You feel tired and out of balance all the time by staying up late. You are not aware of taking care of your needs, such as your hygiene or having breakfast.
– Your physical environment, such as your room or your apartment is always untidy.
– You are more or less in a depressive mood where you cannot find the joy in everyday life, and you consider life to be generally boring
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Beware of minor sins, for they will pile up until they destroy a person.” [Ahmed]
These smaller signs or deceptions are just as important to consider as the major signs. They lead you down a path where you don’t intend to go, which is to sexually acting out, or a relapse.
If these things are left ignored from your awareness, what will happen is that they will start to cumulatively interact with each other, until they reach a certain threshold where they will catch fire and burn.
If you belittle these enough, they will break you, just as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
The Prophet (SAW) also said: “A believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain, fearing it might fall upon him, while a sinner sees his sins as a fly passing over his nose, so he gets rid of it with his hand.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).
In the Breaking Free Program, change and healing from your unwanted sexual behaviors begins with awareness. The program provides a safe place for you to take a look at these smaller signs more closely, and gives you that opportunity to notice the extent to which these choices are leading to your unwanted sexual behaviors.
Once you’re able to predict the patterns and see the smaller choices that are leading you down a path you don’t want to go, you can intentionally make the small choices that will take you down the path where you do want to go.
This will not only allow you to examine the behaviors that lead you to sexually acting out, but doing this work will also give you a chance to align with yourself internally, where you are truthful with those around you, with Allah and with yourself. And that is the most rewarding benefit of doing this work.