In the White Book of SA, it says,
…lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and true sobriety includes progressive victory over lust. (p. 4)
What does progressive victory over lust mean?
I’ve had this question, and I’ve talked with others in recovery meetings who have the same question.
The word progressive means “happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.”
Addiction is progressive. One therapist I’ve worked with would always say, “Once is too many and a thousand times is never enough.” In fact, the White Books states that “…our sexaholism doesn’t stand still; it progressively worsens.” (p. 32)
So how do I work on “progressive victory over lust?” And why is that crucial to real recovery from addiction?
Is progressive victory over lust mandatory? Can I chip away at it over time and eventually it will just work itself out?
The White Book has this to say about how important progressive victory over lust is:
There are few absolute requirements a prospective sponsor should have, but a period of comfortable sexual sobriety, including progressive victory over lust, is surely a must. (bold & underline added for emphasis)
If I’m not working on this progressive victory, is being a sponsor putting the cart before the horse?
One person in recovery who I really respect said it this way:
Progressive victory over lust does NOT mean I lust and lust less often over time; it means I STOP and STAY STOPPED lusting and, over time, it gets easier to not lust.
An alcoholic doesn’t have progressive victory over alcohol by drinking less and less every day until, one day, he’s magically cured. Instead, he STOPS and STAYS STOPPED, and, over time, the temptation is less and less to go back to alcohol.
Practicing the Chin Up Approach
One thing I try to practice one day at a time, even moment to moment, is the chin up approach. This was shared by a facilitator back in 2007 who said he looks at everyone from the chin up. Not only does this help him look at everyone as a son or daughter of God, but it eliminates the comparison mindset, the objectification, and ultimately, the lustful thoughts.
I remember thinking, when I heard that concept: “Yeah, that’d be a great idea. But who’s he kidding. I can’t do that…”
And the truth is, I CAN’T – but GOD CAN.
As I “practice” the chin up approach: being aware of where I am, asking for His help, and surrendering my natural tendencies to want to look at other from the chin down – God is there and really does help.
This, to me, is one way to practice progressive victory over lust.
The Addiction Relationship
Remember the A => B and B => C example: A is debilitating negative emotions, which leads to B – lust, which leads to C – sexually acting out. If I can deal with the A’s in my life effectively, the B’s and C’s will lose their power over time – progressive victory.
The White Book talks about this too:
“Progressive victory over [personality] defects, not their eradication, is the power of God at work in us. What we really do battle against is not other people but our old natures, the negative force within us we can obey anytime we wish, the force that is always willing and able to wrong another.” (p. 131)
On pages 156-168 of the White Book it answers the question of what progressive victory over lust looks like. Here’s the summary:
18 Steps to Practice Progressive Victory Over Lust
- Stop practicing the compulsion. (This is the STOP and STAY STOPPED concept.)
- Stop feeding the obsession.
- Participate in the fellowship of the program.
- Admit powerlessness.
- Bring the inside out.
- Use the literature of the program.
- Go to work on the other defects. (This is working on the A’s in addiction – the debilitating negative emotions.)
- Learn to give instead of take.
- Get an SA sponsor.
- Make friends in the program.
- Carry the message of your recovery. (Live Step 12.)
- Practice taking the actions of love.
- Recognize and feed your hunger for God.
- Cast it out.
- Take refuge in God.
- Look lust in the eye.
I look forward to everyone’s feedback, their experience, and additional questions.