This post is part of a series of posts relating to the book Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Change. See related posts here.
If you walk in to a high school weight room you will find a room of kids determined to get “big guns” (biceps). They will focus hours doing various form of curls in order to build their biceps the size of watermelons. What they don’t realize is change in muscle mass happens when you work the entire body.
This is logical to many, but when dealing with addiction we have the same misconception as the high school kid. You work one muscle — personal willpower— and hope the addiction will crumble. If you want to see real change you have to work every angle.
The core of Change Anything is the 6-sources of influence. This model is a perfect foundation to start attacking any addiction. Especially for a bishop that probably doesn’t have professional counseling experience. If you learn this model the road to success is much more clear.
Addictions do not happen because of one root cause. For example, a pornography addition doesn’t exist simply because it is carnally gratifying. It exists because the individual may not be accountable to anyone, their computer is in the darkest corner of the basement, and there is no filter on their internet. All of those elements are playing a role in the persistence of the addiction.
Motivation to Change vs. Ability to Change
One of the biggest mistakes a bishop can make is assuming an addiction is due to lack of motivation. More often than not the addiction is a result of lack of ability. They simply don’t know HOW to change.
Motivation to change and ability to change should both be considered in order to change addiction. This is a large part of the 6-source model.
Personal, Social, and Structural Influence
An individual is influenced on three levels.
- Personal Influence – Personal goals, self identity
- Social Influence – Family, Friends, Bishops, Auxiliary Leaders, Co-workers, or accomplices
- Structural Influence – Environment, Objects around you, Pathways of habit
By examining the motivations and abilities in these three areas of influence suddenly ideas and answers appear in order to halt the addiction.
Let’s look at an example of addressing a pornography addiction through the 6-source model.
Source 1: Love what you hate by telling the whole vivid story
Every addict needs a vivid statement that will help remind them of their motivation. This should be a written statement that alerts the seriousness of the problem. It needs to tell the whole story–not simply a general explanation of the problem. A bad example would be as follows: “I want to overcome my pornography addiction so that I can be a responsible spouse to my eternal companion.” That’s nice but not powerful. Here’s a good example: “Today I put my wife before my addiction because I am destroying my eternal marriage and risking future relationships with my children. This may be my last chance.” By reading this statement when temptation is present it puts logic back in the driver’s seat. It helps remind the individual of the importance to change.
Source 2: Do what you can’t
Source 1 focuses on personal motivation and now source 2 focuses on personal ABILITY. It should include building a skill that will help the individual avoid personal temptation. The popular technique of singing a hymn is a good example of this. Or it may be beneficial for the person to avoid temptation that is more common than pornography. They may practice turning off the television when there is a form of sexual context. The more practice they get in those situation the more likely they are to shut down the internet browser when the unexpected image appears. During follow up appointments the bishop may ask for a report of how many times they avoided such situations.
Source 3 and 4: Turn accomplices into friends
Social support is crucial when trying to overcome addiction. That’s part of the reason the bishop is involved. He encourages accountability and helps them think logically. With other addictions like smoking it might be beneficial to announce to all your Facebook friends that you are quitting cigarettes. This would rally support and keep you obligated to follow though. However, when dealing with a pornography addiction that just might make things awkward. Nonetheless, it is still essential that one harnesses peer pressure to help them overcome their addiction. This can happen by a nightly/weekly/monthly reports to a spouse or parent. The more a spouse is involve the more likely relapse won’t happen.
Source 5: Invert the economy
Create an economy of time. Many relapses happen because the individual is casually surfing the internet to pass time. Require the individual to start a kitchen timer each time they are on the computer and limiting them to 30 minutes a day online. Then have them report their time each day to the bishop or their spouse.
Source 6: Control your space
The way an addict organizes his environment can have a dramatic impact on his ability to overcome temptation. A popular suggestion includes putting the computer in a high-traffic area in the home where all can see the content on the screen. Another way to control the addiction through the environment is a simple internet filter. This is a must! It’s important to empower your environment to not even make it possible to relapse even if the desire is insistent.
These steps are not THE way to overcome pornography addiction. There are many other ideas that could be plugged in to each source and each source should be personalized to the individual. This is simply an example of how a bishop could use the 6 source model to help someone overcome their addiction. With each follow up appointment the bishop can simply go through each of the 6 sources and determine where progress is slacking.
There is an important lesson to be learned in 2 Kings 5:
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Elisha required Naaman to dipped himself in Jordan seven times–not three–not one–but seven times. Just the same is all six sources of influence essential in order for an individual to overcome an addiction for a lifetime.