Author: edcappa

The Tragic Shame Game

The Tragic Shame Game

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

“God can’t possibly love someone like me.” I hear statements like this at least once a week in my counseling practice and it makes me very sad. Those words come from Christians who believe God cannot and will not accept them because of their sinful nature.

But they could not be more wrong. What they’re doing is projecting the negative feelings they have about themselves onto God. What they are really dealing with is shame.Shame Label Cover

Satan came up with a great emotional mind-bender when he invented shame. He knew it would be one of the most powerful tools he could use to keep us separated from God and others. He uses our mistakes, regrets and past traumas to generate on-going emotional and mental distress within us. He knows shame is the most toxic of all emotions and can leave Christians feeling hopeless and isolated.

But that is not the life God envisioned for us. His desire is for us to live an abundant life in which we experience peace and joy despite whatever circumstances we are facing. However, shame will prevent us from achieving His desires and in fact, will drive us away from Him.

But there is an antidote to our shame. It is called Grace. Through His remarkable Grace, we can be free from the darkness of shame and understand God takes our past and puts it in the past. You see, God is not looking backward, He is looking forward.

But sometimes simply having the insight God loves and accepts us unconditionally is not enough to break free from the shame we feel. We still want to run away and hide. But you can’t hide from God. He sees our brokenness and understands it causes us shame. Let’s look at Psalm 139 for the truth.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139: 11-12 NIV).

God tries to explain to us – “do not be afraid to approach Me with your shame. You try to keep it in the dark away from Me, but that is not possible because I know your shame and I will bring it into the light. Bring your shame to me, not so that I can condemn you, but so that I can remove it from you”.

This is a powerful message for those who believe God can never accept them because of their sinful behaviors. But once again, the idea that God is unapproachable and uncaring is nothing more than Satan’s lies designed to drive a wedge between God and us. What we need to believe is He accepts us and loves us unconditionally despite our brokenness and sinful behavior.

Learn more about shame and how it impacts our relationship with God and others, as well as it’s effect on our destructive behaviors in the book entitled: Removing Your Shame Label: Learning to Break From Shame and Feel God’s Love. Order your copy today at: Amazon.com or http://www.BarnesandNoble.com

Are You Chasing Your Spouse?

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

The romantic stage of a relationship lasts an average of 12-24 months. And once it passes maintaining a strong emotional connection can be difficult for most married couples. The busyness of life, the addition of children and simply being too inwardly focused are all factors that contribute to couples drifting apart emotionally. But there is another factor that comes into play when we discuss the changing dynamics of a relationship between couples. They tend to take each other for granted.  700-00609918

We begin to simply “expect” our spouse will always be available to serve without needing to be appreciated for the value they bring to the relationship. Over time, these couples find themselves walking through marriage on parallel paths. They may engage engulf themselves in work; make the kids the number one priority in the household; involve themselves in excessive activities like computer surfing, gaming, and hobbies that allow them to avoid engaging with their partner on an emotionally intimate level.

But as time passes, one or both individuals start to become discontent with the relationship and feel there is something missing. To correct this negative trend, they need to start chasing each other. Chasing is a process that consists of three steps.

  1. Put Aside Your Fears. As couples stop attempting to engage with each other on an emotional level fear is established. This is the fear of “being rejected” should they try to re-engage with their spouse. The rejection fear develops over time as individuals make attempts to engage but find themselves ignored or dismissed. After a while, they just stop trying to engage. But that is exactly where Satan wants you. While he understands he may not be able to destroy your marriage, he can certainly attempt to make it a miserable one. Drop the fear and take a chance.
  2. The Chase. Make daily efforts to genuinely engage with your spouse. For 10 to 15 minutes, take the focus off of yourself or the kids and place it solely on your partner and what is going on in his/her life. You also can: send cute and funny text messages; leave a romantic card on their pillow; buy inexpensive gifts; offer to do them a favor. The key is to generate a new perception in your spouse’s mind that you are actively thinking about them.
  3. Allow Yourself to Get Caught. If your spouse is making an effort to chase you, slow down enough to get caught. Don’t bush them aside by saying how busy you are but instead notice the energy they are putting into the relationship. Getting caught doesn’t take much effort – what it takes is being aware that you’re being chased.

Behind The Canvas

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CCSAS, CPCS

It is a question I get at least once a week from a client in my counseling practice, “why did God allow this to happen to me?”. And my answer is always based on my understanding of Scripture, which includes, but is not limited to:

  • We live in a fallen world where we experience heartache and pain due to injustice, evil, disease and natural disasters (Rom. 8:22)
  • Satan is alive and well and busy trying to turn us away from God (Eph. 6:10-12)
  • We have free will. And those people with hardened and evil hearts use it to cause emotional, mental and physical pain to others (Matt. 15:19)

Usually, that is not enough to ease the distress an individual is suffering. And I can understand that. However, I do believe the words of the Apostle Paul who tells us:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28

canvas

What is troubling for us is we can’t see the work God is doing as we are dealing with our storms. In fact, I heard a quote once, I can’t remember who said it, or the exact words, so I will paraphrase.

God is busy creating a beautiful painting of your life that is filled with love and hope. It is unlike any piece of art you have ever seen. However, you can’t see what He’s creating at this moment, because you are standing behind the canvas.

That is a fantastic word picture used to accurately describe the parallel of God at work while we are suffering. So when do we get to see what’s on the other side of the canvas? In His time. That could be tomorrow, next year, or in the world to come. We don’t know.

But this I am sure of, for those who have suffered greatly in this lifetime and remained faithful to God, He has eternity to make it up to them.

Two Lies Satan Uses to Enhance Shame

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

“It’s pretty difficult to believe God loves and accepts you after you wake up in a strange man’s apartment with a massive hangover,” said Carole, a 31-year-old single, school teacher. “I’m acting in a way God does not approve, so how do I approach Him when I need His help? I just can’t bring myself to be honest and contrite with Him because I’m so ashamed of the things I am doing to degrade my body.”

Like Carole, many Christians who engage in sinful behaviors find it difficult to take the actions necessary to build a relationship with Jesus. At the core of our struggles is the over-powering emotion of shame. Shame serves as a barrier between us and our Lord and Savior and it limits our ability to engage in meaningful prayer, scripture reading, meditation, and Christian community.

Satan Liar “It’s difficult to pray to someone who you believe is judging you as a failure,” Carole continued. “I desperately want to reach out to feel His comfort, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I believe He wants nothing to do with me.”

For Christians like Carole, it’s difficult to read about and comprehend God’s unfailing love when you believe your sinful patterns disqualify you from His love. It’s also challenging to interact with Christian brothers and sisters when you feel unworthy to be around them.

Continue reading “Two Lies Satan Uses to Enhance Shame”

Why Can’t You Stop Porn?

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

It’s a question I hear quite often from clients, “why can’t I stop looking at porn?”. And I tell them all the same thing. They have not learned to feel their emotions.

I realize that sounds a bit odd, but I assure you at the heart of a man addicted to porn is a man whose heart has trouble feeling. Our struggle with pornography is really the pursuit of emotional intimacy. The problem is most men don’t know that. In fact, they wouldn’t know emotional intimacy if it hit them in the face.  emotions

In my clinical practice, 9 out of 10 men who present with a pornography addiction also have an extremely low emotional IQ. What this means is three-fold:

  • They can tell you when they are angry, sad, happy or afraid. These are called secondary emotions. However, they struggle to identify their primary or true emotions. For example, what are you really feeling when you say you’re angry?
  • If they can identify what they are truly feeling (primary emotions), they can’t articulate them in a constructive manner. They struggle to share and be vulnerable with others.
  • But worse of all, they can’t determine what others are feeling beyond secondary emotions. They lack the ability to empathize and seek out additional information from others who are expressing their emotions. Instead, they want to shut down the individual, fix their problem, or runaway.

Beyond the sex/porn addiction, a man’s low emotional IQ it’s the single largest complain women have about the men in their lives. They are emotionally disconnected. We don’t allow ourselves to feel emotions. And as I tell my clients: “you need to feel to heal”.

If you want to manage your pornography addiction, make increasing your emotional IQ part of your recovery process.

War on Porn Steps Up

No Porn Sign

Age Verification to prevent children under the age of 18 from accessing online pornography is set for rollout in the UK. The House of Lords approved the final piece of legislation relating to guidance for the new UK Age Verification system this week (Dec. 11, 2018), with final sign-off from the House of Commons poised. Enforcement is anticipated to begin in early 2019. 

Here are some common questions and issues that are being raised. 

Continue reading “War on Porn Steps Up”

Pure Sex Radio Interview: The 9 Reasons Why Men Abuse Sex

The following is an interview I did for Pure Sex Radio, in which I reviewed the 9 Reasons Why Men Abuse Sex. I came up with these reasons during my work with men to help them manage their sexual and pornography addictions.  

Pure Sex is sponsored by BeBroken Ministries. BeBroken is dedicated to the healing of individuals and family dealing with sexual sin.  You can learn more about BeBroken Ministries at its website: https://2.bebroken.com

 w.podomatic.com/podcasts/puresexradio/episodes/2018-11-06T07_05_31-08_00

Masturbation: Pseudo Intimacy

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CSRRS, CCSAS, CPCS

The question I’m asked often by married men is masturbation “wrong”.

My answer is three-fold. First, masturbation leads to lustful thoughts. I have yet to meet a man who claimshe can masturbate without the aid of sexual thoughts. So, let’s stay here for amoment. I think we would all agree, men who struggle with pornography or sexual addictions should not be focusing on sexual thoughts or fantasy. In fact, we train them to do the opposite and learn to control compulsive sexual thoughts.

 Scripture tellsus focusing on sexual thoughts is not healthy for our relationship or ourselves.

Broken Relationship

“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God.” 1 Cor. 7:1

Notice the words in bold. Unhealthy sexual thoughts lead to erosion of men. Strike One against masturbation.

The second part of my answer is masturbation is pseudo intimacy. Sex is an amazing and wonderful gift designed by God to help married couples enhance their emotional intimacy and connection. In his book, Sacred Sex Tim Alan Gardner points out:

“Sex is comforting,and naturally reduces anxiety,” he said. “These are wonderful byproducts of healthy, marital sexuality. Sex is not meant, however, to be used like a drug.”

And when we masturbate that is how we use sex – like a drug. We use masturbation to help us distract from emotional/mental distress or obtain an adrenaline rush. That is the same as having a little too much to drink with the exception that it doesn’t produce a hangover. Instead sex is an activity we are to share and enjoy withour spouse.

The third and final point is this, clinical studies have been indicating masturbation can lead to a host of sexual dysfunctions including erectile dysfunction and retarded ejaculation.

So, to answer the question, is masturbation wrong? The answer is yes, in that it shifts true intimacy away from a couple and moves it to pseudo intimacy for an individual. The answer is yes, in that it results in men turning to fantasy for lustful supposes instead of turning to their spouse for mutual enjoyment.    

Empathy for Her is Understanding ‘Why’

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSRRS, CCSAS, CPCS

If I asked you why you abuse sex you would probably give me one of the following: answers:

“I have no idea”
“I wish I knew”
“I think it’s just who I am”
“It is the way God made me”
“I think I am simply perverted”
“I’m sick”
“I’m disgusting”
“I’m just a loser”
“I’m a bad man”
“I mentally disturbed”
“I am too self-absorbed”

In treating men struggling with sex/porn addiction I have heard all those comments and more when I asked the why question. Without a clear-cut rationale for why we will simply default to believing it’s a character flaw. In our minds, the obsessed focus on sex is the result of our overactive sexual energy.

“I am convinced I am hard-wired differently than other guys,” said Connor, who at one time was spending nearly $250 a week on live sex webcasts. “There is no other explanation for why I am consumed with sexual thoughts around the clock. I can never get enough.”

Connor is right, he is hard-wired to abuse sexbut not due to anything biological or physiological. Connor’s obsession for sex was developed because someone(s) hard-wired him by causing emotional pain. He learned to block out the emotional distress by distracting himself with sex. To straighten out his wiring, Connor, like all sex addicts, will need to discover the true root of his addiction.

Her Need for Empathy

I truly believe uncovering the origin of a sex/porn addiction is vital in recovery process. The key to unlocking the power of a sex/porn addiction is for men to discover why it manifested in the first place. The answer to the why question provides a level of freedom and relief that enables us to feel hopeful we can get the addiction under control.

 But this information is not only important for men dealing with sexual integrity issues, but it’s also valuable for their spouse or partner.      

Why? Because it helps both parties clearly understand the addiction is not only about “sex”. This insight helps to clear up the misconception they are simply dealing with “an out-of-control pervert” who will never stop acting out. It provides a sense of hope needed, not only to manage the addiction, but to keep the relationship together.

When a wife or partner understands the ‘why’, it opens the door for them to develop empathy, which is needed for a couple to reconnect. Empathy allows those betrayed to see the addict through a softer pair of eyes that are not as condemning and judgmental.

 “I was shocked to learn what Matt had been doing had nothing to do with sex,” said Rachel. “It was quite a relief to understand there actually was some rationale for the insane things he had been doing.”

Now don’t take Rachel’s comments wrong. It’s not that she was condoning Matt’s sexual addiction it was simply that she could now see why he had been acting out in such a destructive manner.

“Just because I now understand doesn’t mean I am ready to forgive,” she continued. “But I could see that day coming. Prior to this, I had no hope of ever forgiving him. It’s obvious he’s been dealing with a lot from his childhood that I never knew.”

When a woman develops empathy for her sex/porn-addicted partner she indicates an understanding of his problem. However, she is not, in any way, shape or form saying she is accepting of the behavior. She continues to despise it. By becoming empathic a woman can find a way to adjust her thinking to once again accept her partner if she sees he is taking steps to change.

Basically, she is saying “I understand why you do what you do. It all makes sense to me now. However, I still don’t like it, so what are you doing to fix it?”

IMPORTANT FACT: Discovering the reasons why a man abuses sex is not an excuse for his behavior. He had other options, including to seek help earlier. But he elected not to take them. He is still responsible for the pain he has caused to others.

4 Steps to Manage Temptations

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSRRS, CCSAS, CPCS

As you know, we don’t cure sexual or pornography addictions, instead, we learn to manage them. To assist us, the following are 4 steps we should take when temptations hits.

Don’t React. Respond. 

This is a critical step. If you don’t get this one you will not be successful. Slow everything down. The key is to not rush off and act out but instead to sit with the emotions that have been activated by the triggering event. Find a place to be alone with your thoughts and feelings.

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Continue reading “4 Steps to Manage Temptations”