Getting healthy doesn't take a break - production will remain open during this time in order to provide resources

Tools For Healing: The Three Circles

Tools For Healing: The Three Circles

by Rich Moore March 05, 2020

I love tools and often feel like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor from the Home Improvement show. Whether you are a man or woman, we all have tools. We can never have enough, right?  

For me, it’s all about having the right tool—the specific tool—for each individual project. And, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about tools. When I’m driving through my neighborhood and the garage doors are open, I get a glimpse of all my neighbor’s toolboxes and yard equipment. I’m definitely not the only one who loves tools.

There is literally an individual, specialized tool for every project. For most of us, we take pride in the variety of tools we own. We have worked hard to obtain all the right tools so that when the day comes, we have what we need to repair something damaged or build something new. 

Have you ever thought about the recovery process this way: having the right tool for the job? When opening the pages of your Pure Desire workbook, do you think of it as a toolbox

Over the years, as I’ve gone through my own healing process and led hundreds of men through groups, I’ve come to see my workbook as an essential toolbox for my healing. 

This is true for all of us in a group. The workbook we have in front of us, week after week, has been developed to help us fix, repair, and rebuild our lives. But this is no ordinary toolbox. It is a life-giving toolbox that has the power to lead us to freedom.

For those of us who love tools, we typically have a favorite: a hammer, drill, wrench, saw, and more. It is a trusted tool that gets the job done every time. This is also true when it comes to the tools we use in our recovery process.  

What is the one tool you use more than any other? What is your favorite?

The tool I use all the time is The Three Circles Relapse Prevention Tool. This tool can be refined and updated throughout the recovery process and is probably my most favorite tool to use.  

At any given time, The Three Circles reveals my true self: where I’m struggling and what I’m doing to pursue health is evident by what I have written down.

The Three Circles tool is fairly simple to use. Here’s how it works:

the inner circle

The inner circle is the place I said I would never go again: places and behaviors that result in a relapse. Listed here are things that indicate red flags—areas where, if I end up here, I know I’m in trouble. 

Dr. Ted Roberts calls this inner circle the crash site and he’s exactly right. The collateral damage that happens during a relapse can be much more extensive than we think.

the middle circle

This is a critical area! In the middle circle, I have guardrails or trip wires that protect me. These are the places and behaviors in my life that lead me toward relapse, so I don’t go here. 

The middle circle is also a great place to gain accountability through community. When I share the details of my middle circle with the guys in my group, they can help me. They are more aware and watchful of the places and behaviors that could trip up my recovery. This helps the guys in my group know when to start asking questions to help me get back on track with my recovery.

the outer circle

This is where I am most productive and healthy. The places and behaviors I write in this area help others see that I am living in freedom and making decisions to live life on God’s terms.  

Most, if not all, of the places and behaviors listed in my outer circle have nothing to do with sex per se, but have more to do with my overall health. As I become more healthy, I’m able to add more places and behaviors to my outer circle. 

Prior to finding Pure Desire, I never knew this type of tool existed. So often, recovery focuses on the things we can’t or shouldn’t do. One thing I love about The Three Circles is that it has an entire circle—the largest circle—designated for establishing healthy behaviors. 

For me, The Three Circles tool was one of the biggest game-changers in my life. When I use it on a regular basis, I can see exactly where I am: am I living in health or living too close to relapse? 

I’ve been in a group or facilitating groups for almost 25 years and The Three Circles has been the most powerful tool for me. It’s been a helpful tool for many other guys, too! Once I walk guys through how to use this tool and help them to understand the process, they really start to see the recovery process in a different light: the process becomes measurable for them. This is a key piece to lifelong healing.  

Over time, as we become more healthy—as the things that cause us to relapse change—so will the places and behaviors in our Three Circles change. Places and behaviors that were listed in our middle circle may move to our inner circle. As we go through the healing process, we need to continue to reevaluate the places and behaviors in our circles.

As I look back at the last 25 years, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come and also know how far I can go. I love the group process and experiencing all the victories along the way—not just for myself, but for all the guys who have chosen this pathway toward health.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. 

Proverbs 27:17

It’s a privilege to be a part of someone’s story and being able to share my favorite Pure Desire tools with the guys in my group. 

No where else have I found the best assortment of tools for helping men and women live in health and freedom. If we trust the process, we will find every tool we need to repair and rebuild a healthy life.

Check out other great Pure Desire tools!


rich moore

Rich is the International Men's Groups Coordinator (IGC) for Pure Desire. He has been involved with Pure Desire for over 20 years and is a foundational piece to helping churches start a Pure Desire group ministry. Rich is also the author of The Silent Battle: One Man's Fight for Freedom.

Leave a comment

Also in PD

Tools For Healing: Stress Test
Tools For Healing: Stress Test

by Ashley Jameson March 26, 2020

There are so many things that happen in our lives that we can’t control. Life, with all its unknowns, can be stressful. You can’t control if there is a death in the family, if you’re unexpectedly laid off, or are hit with a health issue you didn’t see coming. BUT, there are so many things we can control.

Read More

Tools For Healing: Self-Care
Tools For Healing: Self-Care

by Shari Chinchen March 19, 2020 1 Comment

Whether we are dealing with addiction ourselves, have experienced betrayal from another, or are healthy now and trying to remain in a healthy place, proper self-care is an essential piece of our healing process.

Read More

Survive & Thrive Corona Season
Survive & Thrive Corona Season

by Nick Stumbo March 17, 2020

Right now, you and I have very, very little control over what is happening in the world around us. What we do have is incredible control over our response. This coronavirus season can either be one we look back on with great regret and sadness, or this can be a season of renewed relationships with God and others. Which one will it be? The answer to this question is entirely up to you.

Read More