Fight the New Drug is an awareness organization educating about the harms of pornography on individuals, relationships, and society. We share research, facts, and personal accounts to help promote understanding for various aspects of this multi-faceted issue. Our goal is to maintain an environment where all individuals can have healthy and productive conversations about this issue, while acknowledging that this issue can impact any person or relationship differently.
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 our affiliate partners at 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.
We talk a lot about how it will affect consumers’ brains, harm relationships, etc. That information is important for society to understand, but let’s be honest, it can also get kind of disheartening. So let’s look at the other side of the equation.
While the effects of porn are not healthy, struggling with it doesn’t make someone a “bad” person. We get a lot of stories from people who are not only going through an unwanted porn habit 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 quitting an unwanted porn habit.
Want to break free?
Have you ever wanted a porn-free life?
For some of those struggling with porn, their desire to break free is as all-consuming as their porn habit itself. Even when things get discouraging and they want to give up, the desire for freedom never truly fades.
As important as it is to have a positive outlook throughout breaking free from porn, it is equally important to make sure porn consumers aren’t falling into any mental traps. When dealing with an unwanted porn habit, they can sometimes end up combatting things like depression and anxiety. As a result, even if they’re working 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. Keep in mind that these are casual suggestions and do not constitute a mental health diagnosis or treatment.
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 unwanted porn habit 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 struggles. 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 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 unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.
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