The following post is geared towards those in recovery from a struggle with porn. While Fight the New Drug is not a recovery-focused resource, we encourage anyone in need of help to check out Fortify. Visit Fortify if you’re interested in resources aimed at recovery.
At Fight the New Drug, we talk a lot about the negativity and harms of pornography and porn addiction. We talk a lot about how it will affect our brains, ruin our relationships, etc. That information is important for society to understand, but let’s be honest, it can also get kind of depressing. So let’s look at the other side of the equation. While the effects of porn are bad, struggling with it doesn’t make someone a bad person. We get a lot of stories from people who are not only going through addiction but who have recovered from it. Regardless of how long they’ve struggled, recovery is more than possible.
This article is for anyone in the midst of recovery.
Want to Break Free?
Have you ever wanted anything more than a porn-free life?
For some of those struggling with porn, their desire to break free from their addiction is as all-consuming as their addiction itself. Even when things get discouraging and they want to give up, the desire for freedom never truly fades.
When actively pursuing recovery, hope tends to burn brighter and brighter. It is motivating, wonderful, and can keep addicts moving on the right path. However, if they aren’t careful, their determination can send them charging recklessly off the tracks. Recovery is most effective when it is pensive, methodical, and consistent. Anyone who tries to fast forward through their recovery is in for a rude awakening. It’s all about balance. Keep moving forward while still remembering that recovery is a process.
As important as it is to have a positive outlook throughout recovery, it is equally important to make sure addicts aren’t falling into any mental traps. When dealing with addiction, they end up combatting things like depression and anxiety. As a result, even if they’re working really hard on creating a positive lifestyle, this backward thinking won’t get them very far at all. Here are some ways of thinking that those struggling with porn need to be aware of and try to avoid:
1. All-or-nothing thinking
Looking at things in black-or-white, with no middle ground.“If I have one setback, I’m a total failure.”
No porn is “good” porn. No setback is a good setback. But does consuming porn or having a setback make you a bad person? No. In recovery, there is no such thing as failure. Yes, there are missteps and mistakes, but there is never a “point-of-no-return.” Failure is what happens if a person is no longer trying. As long as you are still breathing, you can work on becoming the person you want to be.
Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever. “I can’t do anything right.”
This mentality can be disproved by a law of nature. First, there is no such thing as an absolute. There are exceptions to most every rule. The idea that you can’t do anything right or that you will always be a failure has been repeatedly disproved by you trying to quit. So stop ignoring the evidence! The most fundamental principle of nature is not permanence—it’s change.
3. Diminishing the positive
Coming up with reasons why positive events aren’t much to get excited about. “She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”
Those struggling can be prone to this way of thinking as a result of some of the insecurities their addiction has injected into their life. Remember, fighting for happiness doesn’t matter if you don’t believe you deserve it. Don’t let the annoying little voice in your head tell you otherwise. Try drowning it out, literally. If you find yourself diminishing the positive, try giving yourself a pep-talk, out loud. Try it, it works.
4. The negative filter
Focusing on the negative in each situation. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. “I didn’t look at anything, but I really wanted to and almost did. Why am I so messed up?”
Every victory counts. Don’t disregard your progress because you aren’t perfect yet. Enjoy the journey, trust the process. If we aren’t working on something, then we are just boring and lazy. Take pride in the fact that you are working on bettering yourself. Work on being a little bit better and give yourself license to celebrate the little things.
5. Jumping to conclusions
Jumping to negative assumptions without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader or a fortune teller. “People must think I’m pathetic. I bet they can tell there’s something wrong with me. I’ll be stuck in this compulsive cycle forever.”
This comes into play a lot when those struggling are dealing with other people, like accountability partners or people who they care about what they think. They assume that they are going to judge them as harshly as they judge themselves. Think about that. How would you react to someone else struggling with pornography? You’d obviously be sympathetic and understanding. Stop assuming that others are judging you and start believing they have your best interest in mind.
6. Emotional reasoning
Believing that the way they feel reflects reality. “I feel like such a loser, so I must be a loser.”
Just because we think or feel something, that does not make it true. Separating yourself from what goes on impulsively inside your head is a valuable skill and will be very helpful to your recovery. Those struggling need to slow down and take time to react to their own experiences. It might sound cheesy but breathing and meditation can be a big help for this. Be curious about your feelings and challenge them, don’t just blindly accept them. People who do this are more logical, rational, and better at making decisions.
Self-identifying based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings “I am a porn addict.”
The most important piece of wisdom for those struggling is this: you are not your addiction. Who you are is not the same as where you are. Moments of weakness don’t define us. Yes, we have struggles. Yes, we have weaknesses. But those things will not become labels we wear on our foreheads. Take it step by step, day by day, and continue to learn and grow.
Take the time to think about the mental traps on this list. They may not all apply to you but if you are struggling with porn, it is probable that you are prone to at least one of these ways of thinking. Take things one day at a time and practice being self-aware and patient. Be aware of your own mental pitfalls and make even greater changes. Stay tuned in and you’ll stay on the path to freedom.
For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at 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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