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The following post is geared toward 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 affiliates at Fortify. Visit Fortify if you’re interested in resources aimed at recovery.
According to one study, the topmost common New Year’s resolution made was to lose weight and/or to eat healthier. According to the same study, 72.6% of respondents admitted to the length of their resolution to lasting just one week, while only 44.8% lasted six months.http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/Copy
So is this study suggesting 44.8% of people ate healthy every single day for the first six months of the year? A realistic answer is “probably not.” In reality, they probably started off strong and determined, and as time went they may have faced moments of weakness before getting back on track for success.
Related: Tips To Quit: What Sleep, Food, And Exercise Have To Do With Porn Recovery
One minor setback does not mean you have failed to reach your goal—it just means you should try again and get back on track. Recovery is not a zero-sum game, nor is it a linear process. Be patient with yourself.
Certain goals can be difficult to accomplish when they involve major lifestyle changes. Old habits die hard, and we can quickly slip into the routine we are used to. But just because lifestyle changes and breaking habits can be challenging, it doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Just take it from the people who responded to our tweet with positive feedback and encouragement:
What advice do YOU have for this person?
“So I went a month without porn and was feeling really great, but I just had a relapse last night and now I’m feeling really discouraged. Any words of advice?”
— FTND (@FightTheNewDrug) February 25, 2021
But if that’s not enough encouragement for you, here are five ways to help ensure success and help get you in the groove of changing your routine, and in turn, your life.
1. Be sure your heart is in the right place.
As with any major lifestyle change, you have to ensure your heart is in the right place. Are you committed to this change and, more importantly, do you genuinely want to change for yourself?
Without having the authentic desire to change, the process will not happen easily. When you want to see major changes you have to jump in with both feet in order to accomplish your goal. If you half-heartedly want change in your life, you’ll get half-hearted results.
Related: Opening Up About My Struggle With Porn Helped Me Find Freedom
Be sure your heart is in the right place, that you are all-in and committed to the changes you want to see. And if you’re nervous about committing to a lifestyle change, baby steps are a way to work your way towards a wholehearted desire to change.
2. Find a supportive community.
You’ll find similar qualities in various areas of self-improvement: a supportive community.
Related: Here’s Support For People Who Are Hurt By Their Partner’s Porn Consumption
Whether it is a group personal training session, WeightWatchers’ virtual community, or addiction support meetings, you can rest easy knowing you have a community that is there to support you through your journey and empathize with the process you’re going through. Finding a community of like-minded individuals with similar experiences and beliefs can make all of the difference when you’re facing a new challenge. Whether it’s an anonymous online community or a group of people you meet with on the weekends, having a supportive community backing you up can make a world of difference.
3. Accountability can help ensure success.
One of the most effective ways to ensure success is, at times, the most challenging: accountability. When we face a new challenge or goal by ourselves, it is easy to talk ourselves out of achieving what it is we want to achieve. After all, the only person we are letting down is ourselves. We eat the donut because no one will notice, or skip the gym because no one is counting on us to be there.
Related: 4 Problems With Watching Porn You May Not Have Known About
Having someone you respect and trust along with you on our journey will ensure success because you are now accountable to that person. But in order for this to work, you have to be as honest and open with them as you would be with yourself.
4. Be kind to yourself.
It is common for us to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. We hold ourselves to high standards and criticize ourselves when we don’t meet them. Internally, we talk down to ourselves in ways we’d never speak to a good friend or loved one. It’s important to recognize this self-criticism and change the internal conversation to a positive one.
New York Times bestselling author and self-proclaimed badass Jen Sincero states in her book You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, “You aren’t a better person for feeling guilty or bad about yourself, just a sadder one… guilt, shame, and self-criticism are some of the most destructive forces in your life, which is why forgiving yourself is one of the most powerful.”http://www.keinthecity.com/home/badass-quotes-to-motivateCopy
Related: Shame Made My Struggle With Porn Much Worse, Not Better
When you resurface from a moment of weakness and the guilt is settling in, take the time to recognize the negative feeling, but then quickly acknowledge that you are only human. Practicing self-kindness and forgiveness will get you further than guilt, shame, and resentment.
5. Setbacks don’t mean failures.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, realize that your setbacks do not mean failures.
Ten steps forward and one step back does not equal eleven steps back, and progress doesn’t have to dissolve because of one moment of weakness. As a society, we are quick to mourn our shortcomings and slow to celebrate our accomplishments.
Recognize the progress you made, reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t, and make adjustments where necessary. Don’t think because you had a setback, no matter how large or small, that you are incapable of change. You are capable, you are strong, and if the battle is worth fighting, keep fighting.
Related: How You Can Confront Setbacks While Quitting Porn
Research shows that the brain can heal over time with sustained effort.Pfefferbaum, A., Rosenbloom, M. J., Chu, W., Sassoon, S. A., Rohlfing, T., Pohl, K. M., Zahr, N. M., & Sullivan, E. V. (2014). White matter microstructural recovery with abstinence and decline with relapse in alcohol dependence interacts with normal ageing: a controlled longitudinal DTI study. The lancet. Psychiatry, 1(3), 202–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70301-3Copy Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2015). Gambling disorder and other behavioral addictions: recognition and treatment. Harvard review of psychiatry, 23(2), 134–146. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000051Copy Rullmann, M., Preusser, S., Poppitz, S., Heba, S., Gousias, K., Hoyer, J., Schütz, T., Dietrich, A., Müller, K., Hankir, M. K., & Pleger, B. (2019). Adiposity Related Brain Plasticity Induced by Bariatric Surgery. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 290. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00290Copy
Research also indicates that, while guilt can motivate healthy change, shame actually fuels problematic porn habits.Gilliland, R., South, M., Carpenter, B. N., & Hardy, S. A. (2011). The roles of shame and guilt in hypersexual behavior.18(1), 12-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.551182Copy So if you’re trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with your progress. Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run.
Think of it like a muscle that gets bigger and stronger the more you use it—the longer you stay away from porn, the easier it is to do so. All it takes is practice.
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.
Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.