By Bo Sanchez
As a young boy, I loved reading about the great Houdini. Houdini was probably the most famous escape artist in the world. I’m not sure if the story I’m about to tell you is part legend and part history, but I find it utterly fascinating.
Houdini boasted he could escape any jail cell in less than an hour. One day, a small town in the British Isles built a new jail cell and they were proud of it. “Come give us a try,” they said to Houdini, and he agreed.
He walked into the prison cell bristling with confidence. After all, he had done this hundreds of times before.
Once the jail cell was closed, Houdini took off his coat and went to work. From his belt, he got a flexible but tough ten-inch piece of steel. He knelt in front of the door and started working on the lock.
At the end of 30 minutes, his confident expression had disappeared.
At the end of an hour, he was drenched with perspiration.
After two hours and totally exhausted, Houdini collapsed against the door. And the force of his weight was enough to push the door open!
Because in reality, the door had never been locked.
It was locked only in one place: In his own mind.
Because whatever your mind says is locked — is locked.
Even if it isn’t.
You can be free!
This June, we celebrate our independence as a nation. I thank God we are a free nation. Now, let’s be free from our individual burdens, especially our addictions.
Friend, you can get rid of your bad habits. You can be free from your addictions.
The Bible says, you have been called to live in freedom.
I should know. I’m a recovering sex addict — jailed in compulsive pornography and sexual fantasies for years. Yes, even as I was serving God and preaching. Like Houdini, I tinkered with the “lock” of my jail cell and lost hope because I couldn’t unlock the door.
For my full story, read my book, Your Past Does Not Define Your Future. (You can get it at www.shepherdsvoice.com.ph)
One day, I had a powerful realization. I discovered that the door wasn’t locked — except in my mind. I realized that at any time, I could push hard and the door would swing open — and I could simply walk out. And stay out!
And that’s what I did.
My friend, you can get rid of your addictions.
Here’s the truth: 70% of persons with addictions get rid of their destructive habit on their own. You see, there is no ONE singular way to get out of an addiction. There are many ways to get rid of your burden.
What is an addiction anyway?
I try to avoid technical words (my brain freezes up), so let me share with you my simple definition of an addiction. It’s any action that – 1) you do repeatedly, 2) can’t stop doing and 3) that’s harmful to your life.
Let me tell you a story my golfing friends like to tell. They say golfers love their golf more than anything else in the world…
How do you get rid of addictions?
There is no one way to do it. But why do these various ways work? All of these work as long as they fill up our Love Tank. Once our Love Tank is filled, we realize we don’t belong to the jail cell and stay out.
Here are some of the ways of pushing that jail door…
There are people who got rid of their bad habits by growing up emotionally. In their younger years, they took drugs and abused alcohol. As they grew older, got married, and had kids, their self-identity changed. They kicked their addictions and grew in self-confidence. Somehow, their Love Tanks were filled in the process.
Not all experience this maturity. I know of a 56-year-old man who’s been taking drugs for 40 years now. Marriage didn’t change him. Kids didn’t change him.
My friend Tim’s story is a classic on spiritual conversion that healed his addictions. After attending a Life in the Spirit Seminar, he stopped smoking and drinking the very day of the seminar — cold turkey. What happened on that day? Aside from the power of God, he felt these vices no longer fit his new identity. He saw himself as God’s son, no longer an alcoholic or smoker. Emotionally, he liked the new Tim. Ultimately, God’s love filled his Love Tank.
Not all people who go through seminars, however, experience this instant freedom. And like everyone else under the sun, even Tim continues to battle other hidden addictions. So what else can we do?
“Go Back to Your Past” Psychology
I’m going to commit a crime – forgive me. This is terribly simplistic, but I believe Psychology is divided into two major camps — those who believe healing comes from the past and those who believe healing comes from the present. I know it’s more complicated than this but let’s imagine it’s not.
Followers of Sigmund Freud are in the first camp. They’ll insist that for you to be free from your addictions, you need to go back to your past and deal with your unresolved issues. To do that, you need a trained psychotherapist to listen to you as you explore your unhealed wounds.
I used to believe that this is the only way to really help a person change.
Not anymore. My belief is now more nuanced.
I believe that psychotherapy works, and it’s NOT because of the brilliant, earth-shaking insights that one derives from psychotherapy. These insights help, but I don’t think they’re key to our healing. Instead, I believe psychotherapy works because of something quite simple: That another human being is listening to you — and that human connection fills up your Love Tank.
Why do I believe so? From experience, when another human being listens to you, doesn’t judge you, and loves you, you get healed.
I still believe that “Go Back to Your Past” Psychology is great for diagnosis. But there lies its weakness. Now that I know my sickness, how will I heal it? After I found out that because I was sexually molested at age 8 and 13, I was more open to sex addiction, now what? The question remains the same — how do I cure it? I still had to deal with my present reality. And here lies the strength of the second division of psychology.
“Deal with the Present” Psychology
The other “division” of psychology doesn’t believe that this “unearthing of the past” is the key to healing. It helps, but isn’t essential to healing. Instead, they believe that the real cure is dealing with the NOW. For example, Reality Therapy pioneered by Dr. William Glasser helps people identify what they want in life and practice their power of choice.
The entire Positive Thinking genre made popular by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale falls into this category. These approaches believe that by changing your present thinking and acting upon your choices, you change your life.
12-Step Group Approach
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the entire recovery movement have touched millions of persons. Today, you can almost be sure that there’s a support group out there for your addiction, whatever it may be. From Narcotics Anonymous to Sex-Addicts Anonymous, from Food Addicts Anonymous to Shopaholics Anonymous. Some of its most staunch practitioners believe it’s the ONLY way to help people, which again, I disagree. But when it does work, why does it work? I believe that the program helps you fill up your Love Tank. The effort you give in attending meetings are baby steps towards recovery, making you gain self-confidence. The power of a loving community surrounding you fills you with love as well.
A friend of mine stopped smoking by jogging, sucking menthol candies after meals, and staying away from smoker friends. His wife and kids were also supportive. He swears by this route, and I don’t doubt him. I think every time he took a baby step towards his goal, he felt good about himself. This feeling translated in greater self-respect, which meant that his Love Tank was getting filled-up.
My Approach? All of the Above!
I believe in the Spiritual-Psychological-Positive-Group-Practical Approach. Because I will use anything that will fill up a person’s Love Tank.
Walk towards your freedom now
As you fill up your Love Tank, as you value yourself more and as you receive love from God and others, you realize that you deserve a new home. You realize that you don’t belong there anymore. With a full Love Tank, your “homing” instinct no longer drives you to your past home. Instead, it drives you to your future home. You begin to develop a “vision” instinct.