Finding Calm in the Chaos: Facing Fires, Storms, and Suffering


Pursuing Peace

I’ll admit, this week’s been a tough one for me. With friends and family facing unpredictable fires, I have felt concerned and helpless. This morning as I sought my own inner peace amidst these circumstances, I realized I have something to offer those suffering. This piece from my book came to mind. It is all about finding inner calm when facing outer chaos. May this help you manage the fears that come along with being human in a broken world. Peace to you.

Chapter 20

Pursuing Peace When the World’s at War*

Skill to Master #19: Seeking and sustaining inner peace

Our world is in a frenzy of fear. Stories splash across our screens of both global and local terrorist attacks. We witness our world at war. Tragedies, in the forms of accidents and health risks, plague us. We witness a continual stream of messages that scream why we are unsafe in this world.

While we cannot change the uncertainty of the future, our response to this reality will either help or hurt humanity.

When external chaos breeds internal turmoil, we humans can make destructive decisions rooted in our mismanaged fears. In the words of Kristen Neff, “Oftentimes our reactions to these feelings are the most harmful, not the feelings themselves.” Avoiding the escalation of hatred and violence in the world will necessitate the effective management of our fears. I believe this begins with our personal pursuit of peace.

A climactic scene from the movie Kung Fu Panda 2 reflects the power of finding peace in the midst of scary situations. Po the Panda found himself in a frightening situation, standing alone on a rock, surrounded by water, with a powerful cannon pointed directly at him. As his enemy prepared to finish him, Po prepared his heart. He grounded himself. Po tapped into something deeper, something greater. When Po finally found his inner peace, he was empowered to endure the impossible. When the cannon balls boomed, he stood in his strength. The metal spheres made impact. Yet, instead of meeting his end, Po skillfully sent them back to sender. Po’s surprising victory was rooted in the visceral calm he connected with. Similarly, when we experience internal peace, we too can stand our ground amidst the barrage of trials and temptations that torpedo toward us.

The pursuit of inner peace is particularly important for those of us recovering from addiction. We have a history of searching for peace in all the wrong places. We are skilled at calming ourselves by counterfeit means. We know how to numb. But in recovery, we learn to reach for what is real. We learn that peace that is packaged like pornography and decorated like drugs is illegitimate and illusory. Abandoning false paths to peace, we pursue authentic ones.

Peace Quote

May all who long for peace in the midst of life’s terrors and temptations consider the following avenues:

1. Practice Gratitude – In his helpful book This is Your Brain On Joy, Dr. Earl Henslin shares that according to the research “it is impossible to be grateful and loving while also being fearful and angry.” When every day is Thanksgiving, we experience increased freedom from fear.

2. Cultivate Self-Compassion – In managing my own anxiety and working with clients, I have found Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion Break to be a potent passageway to peace (See Chapter 19 for a description of this exercise). When stress soars, investing in a few moments of self-compassion increases oxytocin, decreases cortisol, and helps us feel both soothed and safe.

3. Create Connection – It is a true treasure when we find others who will respond to our distress in caring ways. Flores writes “regardless of our age or emotional development, we will always require some degree of emotional regulation from others. The denial of the need for others is what leads individuals to seek gratification (e.g., drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, etc.) outside the realm of interpersonal relationships.” When we are frozen in our fears, we can be warmed by the comfort of others.

4. Strengthen the Soul – Nothing calms fear quite like love. This is one reason why spiritual connection is a potent source of peace. When we allow our hearts to be held, anxiety can decrease. Prayer, visualization, music, time in nature, and meditation aimed at strengthening attachment with a Higher Power in times of stress and distress can deepen a peaceful sense of security despite outward circumstances. For many, spirituality also provides hope, strength, courage, and clarity.

As we individually pursue inner peace, our choices will change. Regardless of our political, cultural, and religious backgrounds, our responses to the worries of this world will prove more beneficial to everyone when grounded in calmness, courage, and connection.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us.**

 

* Copyrighted material. Used with permission.
**From the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller. Copyright 1955, 1983 by Jan-Lee Music (ASCAP.) Used by Permission; all rights reserved.
Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!
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The Ethics of Sex: Fresno Bee Article & Radio Interview


Fresno Bee Hustler Article (crop)
This week I had two great opportunities to share my professional and personal perspectives on the local radio and newspaper. I’m grateful for these opportunities and and would love to share them with you.

If you’ve read my book Life After Lust, you’re aware that one component of the book is inviting people to stand against the porn-industry as they recover, learning to connect with their values. The following two resources reflect my response to Hustler’s move into my city. My hope is that this will inspire others to live in alignment with their highest values, whether standing against the porn-industry or doing other meaningful work in the world.

Check out the following two resources:

The Trevor Carey Radio Show (Note: My participation in this show does not mean I or LifeSTAR endorse its political views)

The Fresno Bee (in print too) – The ethics of sex: Hefner & Hustler had them half right  (potential photo trigger warning), based on this well-read article which received over 650 views

May these resources encourage you as you recover from life’s hurts and learn to live in alignment with your values. Please share with anyone who would benefit.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

 

 

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The Porn Pandemic


“None of us are protected from the pull of pornography…This is a pandemic. Our world is saturated with sexual addiction.” p 7

Share if you agree.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

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Forest’s Radio Interview Today


Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 1.44.27 PM

After writing my recent article in response to Hustler’s new store in my city, I have the opportunity to share my perspective on the Trevor Carey radio show (96.7 FM) today at 4:30pm. This will be my second interview on this show (click here to listen to the first one) and I am grateful for the opportunity. Also, look for an updated version of my Hefner/Hustler article in the Fresno Bee very soon.

All of these opportunities are chances to for me to live in alignment. May we all live our lives courageously aligned with our highest values.

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!
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Hustler, Hefner, & Ethical Sex in Recovery


A Guide to Great Sex_ Heffner & Hustler Didn't Know the Half of It-5

Today I finished writing an important piece called The Recovering Addict’s Guide to Ethical Sex: Hefner and Hustler Had it Half Right. This article invites readers to live in alignment with their sexual and moral values and to stand against the porn-industry. In it, I refer to local Fresno news sharing the following:

“This Saturday, a porn-producing pioneer is visiting our fine city of Fresno for Hustler’s “grand opening” event. Meeting Larry Flynt in person with my “Porn Kills Love” T-shirt and picket sign would absolutely align with my values. But this time I am choosing a different approach. My protest will come through my promotion of love on that day. My plan Saturday is to man a LifeSTAR booth at Fresno’s Recovery Summit, sharing the hopeful message of freedom from sex addiction and inviting others to join me in aligned living, as we pursue together the purposeful path of Life After Lust.”

If you live locally, it is our hope that we’ll cross paths with you at the upcoming Recovery Summit this Saturday. Whether you live near or far, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read my Ethical Sex article.

As we grow in our recovery, may we all learn to live in alignment with our most important values. It will always be worth it.

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

 

 

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What My Partner is Worth


My partner is worth my best recovery efforts.-2

Essential Mindset #13 in Life After Lust (2017). From the chapter “What My Wife is Worth.”

Share if you agree.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

 

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Angry Birds & Killer Bees (How to Talk to Children About Sex)


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Talking to kids about sex is an essential, yet difficult task for all parents. What complicates this challenge further is the advancement of technology and the early exposure to pornography that is rampant in our day and age.

Last year I had the privilege of interviewing Dr Todd Bowman, therapist and author of Angry Birds, Killer Bees: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, addressing this timely topic. This valuable interview is now a part of the SATP certification program I teach in and I am privileged to share it publicly today for the first time. Whether you are a parent yourself or plan to be, you’ll gain greatly from Dr Bowman’s expertise with this topic. I invite you to share this interview and Dr Bowman’s much-needed book with others.

Here’s the interview:

Please share with important message with others. For additional resources for parents click here.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

 

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