Immediate gratification versus measured decisions 

Lesson 34 of Recovery Nation contains one bit of wisdom that resonates with me. “The seeking of immediate gratification begins in infancy and should transition to a more mature, delayed-gratification pattern by late adolescence. When this transition does not take place, it is most often a result of either abuse or parental neglect. The most common reasons for emotionally stunted development are extremely controlling parent(s); hyper-religiosity; severe lack of nurturing; and physical, sexual or emotional abuse. In such situations, the child is not exposed to the more advanced decision-making processes that come with necessary developmental elements like being allowed to make mistakes or being encouraged to take risks. . . . People raised in such environments have never had the opportunity to be taught with compassion and interest by those who are closest to them. They have never had the opportunity to share their long-term goals with family and have those goals valued. Most often, such dreams were met with negativity and/or doubt; or by approval “as long as the long-term goals are in accordance with the parents’ wishes.”

I wasn’t abused or neglected by my parents. But, I was raised with hyper-religiousity. My parents were not religious in the traditional sense of the word. But, perhaps just from following examples of their family, peers, and community, they surrounded me with super conservative views of gender roles, sex, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, dating, and other aspects of modern life. I was not taught about consequences of sex or substances, only that those things were bad and should be avoided. Even discussion of those things on television or in overhead conversations was hushed up and avoided, as if invoking the topic might inadvertently summon an evil spirit. And, did my parents encourage me to dream or plan? Did they approve of my dreams? No. They only encouraged their plans for my career, my spouse, and my lifestyle.

Lesson 34 Exercise:

A. Describe a time in your life when the “Immediate Gratification” principle has come into play: Probably the most glaring and most recent example of this in my life is when I would go out with my last affair partner. I focused on the immediate gratification of grooming her for sex, even when my attempts at doing so we’re lame ad unsuccessful. I did not weigh longer-term consequences such as humiliating my family, ruining our reputation, wasting money, wasting time, or the potential pain it would cause my wife if she learned of my behavior.

B. As best as you can, describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying to NOT ACT on a compulsive sexual thought or behavior. I never really tried to not act on sexual thoughts with real people before D-day; I consciously acted on them. More relevant examples might be times in my life when I tried not to masturbate or smoke. I would sometimes get so narrowly focused on doing the unwanted behavior, telling myself it would put my mind at ease and allow me to sleep, that I didn’t consider healthier alternatives.

C. As best as you can, describe the feeling that you experience while you are engaging in a certain compulsive sexual thought or behavior. It’s been well over four years since I have masturbated or used porn. So, I don’t remember the feelings well. I think I would describe the feelings as shame and fear of getting caught.

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