This morning a member of an online support group I lead for men seeking sexual integrity reached out to the group for prayer as he was about to be alone for several hours at home. I commended him for reaching out in such a way (it’s a real sign of a desire to change) and suggested that he call back when he was no longer alone and let us know how he did – whether he remained sober or not.
This technique is called “bookending.” It’s when you alert an accountability partner that you are entering into a potential situation where you could be tempted and “bookend” your time by promising to call back when the situation resolves to check-in. Examples might be when your spouse leaving town for a day, so you bookend from the time he or she leaves to the time he or she returns. Or when you know you will be driving through a part of town that used to trigger you, you bookend the start and end of the trip with someone. Or it could be that you are just having a bad day and you know that under stressful situations you are more liable to act out in your addiction, so you bookend the day with a friend.
A simple phone call or text or message to an online group can make the difference between a day that gets the best of you or a day where you go to bed victorious. I know that for me, when I was desperately trying to get sober, knowing I promised my mentor that I would call once my wife got home and let him know how I did provided just enough added motivation to fight the good fight.
Of course, bookending can work to help control any compulsion or instill any good habit. Imagine how different your life might be if you had someone to call and bookend those days where you might be alone with donuts, or that you might be traveling to Vegas, or you are trying to get into the habit of working out, or you are trying to develop the discipline of bible study and prayer? Having a person to call and check in with will pay huge dividends for you as you are trying to develop new, healthy, sober patters of living.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed (Ecc. 4:9).