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Why Those Who Struggle to Give Up Porn Aren’t “Bad” People

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The following post comes from an article originally posted on Fortify’s website.

At Fight the New Drug, we talk a lot about the doom and gloom of struggling with porn. How it will affect the consumers’ brains, harm relationships, etc. That information can be important and help create better strategies for recovery but let’s be honest, it can also be really depressing. So let’s look at the other side of the equation. While the effects of porn can be negative, struggling with it doesn’t make you a “bad” person. We get a lot of stories from people who are going through an obsession with porn, but they have successfully broken free. Regardless of how long you’ve struggled, recovery is more than possible. Fight the New Drug is not a recovery resource, so check out our friends at Fortify if you’re looking for a supportive community.

Struggling with porn is the worst. Plain and simple.

Fight the New Drug hears first-hand the toll that pornography takes on the lives of those who cannot seem to break free from it. Compulsive viewers often create a cocktail of mental, physical and emotional issues ranging from depression and porn-induced erectile dysfunction, to the entire spectrum of anxieties and insecurities. And these are just to name a few.

We say again—struggling with porn is the worst. But does that make those who struggle “bad” people?

Nope, we don’t think so.

Related: Struggle With Porn? Don’t Let It Stop You From Repping The Movement

But we know that’s probably how compulsive viewers feel a lot of the time. They feel out of control of their actions. Then, they can get trapped under the crushing weight of blame and guilt, and they get stuck walking circles around all the thoughts that keep them feeling so hopeless.

“If I were strong enough, I would be able to quit.”

“Every time I look at porn I feel terrible but I keep doing it anyways. Why am I so weak?”

“I’ve been trying to stop for years and can’t. Maybe I’m just broken.”

While those who struggle may feel justified in these thoughts, none of them are true. The problem is that all of these feelings are born from their inability to stop watching immediately. They don’t motivate them to change, they just make them feel inadequate.

If compulsive viewers don’t learn how to cut themselves some slack, they could become trapped in their thoughts and cycles of negativity. The following three reasons are why those who struggle are not broken, and they can change.

Related: 3 Ways Facing Shame Can Take Away Its Power & Help You Quit Porn

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Understanding shame

Here’s the issue: so many who watch porn feel an enormous amount of shame brought on by others or themselves, which pretty much always makes the issue worse.

Many feel like they’re a “bad” person, worthless, or permanently broken. Not only is this untrue, but these feelings of shame can also cripple people’s self-esteem and stunt their progress into recovery. And we realize this is a complex issue, since remorse (not shame) can be a healthy part of finding freedom and healing wounds. But too often shame is used as a beating stick that weakens and demoralizes.

In fact, research has clearly shown how shame can fuel hypersexual behavior (like an unwanted porn habit), whereas guilt can help fuel change in behavior.

RelatedHow Shame Made My Struggle With Porn Worse, Not Better

Truth is, a lot of people watch porn. That shouldn’t surprise you.

Do you realize though, how many thousands upon thousands of Fighters are still struggling with porn and yet stand with us to declare to others that porn kills love and to fight for love? This doesn’t make them hypocrites at all. They speak boldly and openly because they know the true cost of pornography. They want others to have the opportunity to avoid those challenges in their lives. These Fighters are among the most passionate and we love them for it.

Just because you haven’t been able to completely distance yourself from porn yet doesn’t mean you can’t be an activist for real love and want to help people (including yourself) avoid love’s most harmful counterfeits. Remember that, because it’s fact.

RelatedThe Shame-Free System This All-Guys’ College House Has To Fight Porn Is Brilliant

Feelings are not fact

Here’s part of a true story that someone sent to us about his struggle with porn:

“Addiction or obsession is something that hurts because it makes you feel terrible for choosing to do those things. It makes you feel like you’re the problem. I hated myself. I wanted to quit our marriage because I felt I had failed my wife and our kids. Even though my career was doing very well and I was very successful on the outside, I had walled myself off and felt controlled by the thing that I hated but couldn’t stop.”

Feelings are important, but they don’t make anyone who they really are. Shame does not define who you are. What you do with your feelings and what choices you make, those things are what define you.

A struggling viewer wanting to act out in their fight against porn isn’t what’s “bad,” it’s when they follow through with it that makes it harmful to themselves and to others. Accept this part of the healing process, and anyone who struggles will be a lot happier in their journey toward recovery.

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Don’t blame the past, develop a new one

Most compulsive porn consumers report that even though they were exposed to pornography at a very young age, they still somehow knew that it was “bad for you.”

They felt that it wasn’t healthy. But they didn’t know how to deal with it. Think about it: McDonald’s is not healthy for you but if you hand a kid a Happy Meal they aren’t going to reply, “No thanks, I’m cutting carbs for the month.” Sometimes it takes age and maturity to gain a healthy perspective.

RelatedI Live In Shame And Embarrassment For My Porn Obsession—So Why Can’t I Stop?

No matter how long someone has struggled with porn, how old they were when porn first crept into their life, there is no way they could have been equipped to deal with it. Consumers fighting to quit watching often use the past as evidence of their failures, a ledger that lists the reasons of how little they’re worth. Just remember that hindsight is 20/20.

Looking back on the past with current experience and knowledge can make anyone who struggles feel as though their mistakes are so trivial and avoidable. This just leads compulsive consumers to blame themselves. Instead of using the past as a hindrance to recovery, focus on today. Todays will become yesterdays and eventually, every Fighter will have a whole new past to be proud of and work from. But you don’t have to ever fight alone.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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