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Why You Can Stop Feeling Like A Bad Person for Struggling With Porn

You are not a bad person if you struggle with porn. A choice to stop watching porn made out of shame and self-hate is not as permanent as a choice freely made from love and a desire to be healthier.

By September 1, 2022No Comments
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This article contains affiliate links. Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

Watching porn doesn’t automatically make someone a “bad” person.

We know what you might be thinking… “Fight the New Drug was an anti-porn awareness and education movement that’s now changing its position on porn.” Not even close. As many people know by now, research shows many ways that porn can be harmful to individuals, relationships, and society.

Related: Fighting Against Both Porn & Shame is More than Possible, It’s Necessary

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

Many already feel like they’re a bad person, worthless, or permanently broken. (Of course, this is a different reaction than those who unapologetically watch porn on the regular, who have no idea of its negative effects.)

Dr. Brene Brown, a leading researcher on shame, growth, and change, has said, I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure.”

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These feelings of shame can also cripple people’s self-esteem and stunt their progress if they’re trying to quit porn for good.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 

And we realize this is a complex issue since guilt and remorse, which are different than 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. (Again: there are huge differences between guilt and shame.)

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

Related: 3 Reasons Not to Rule Out Dating Someone Who has Struggled with Porn

But do you realize 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 personally know the true cost of pornography. Many times, 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.

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Everyone can be a Fighter

Just because someone hasn’t been able to completely distance themself from porn yet doesn’t mean they can’t be a voice that calls for real love and want to help people, including themselves.

Now don’t misunderstand what we’re saying. We’re not telling anyone to stop trying to avoid pornography. We’re simply telling people who struggle to quit hating themselves or others for watching it. Because, ultimately, a lot of reputable and reliable evidence points to the fact that the shaming process leads them back to porn again, and again.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 

Related: Why the Goal of the Phrase “Porn Kills Love” Isn’t to Shame Anyone

Compared to healthy levels of remorse or guilt, self-inflicted shame has been shown to lead people to slip into a depressed funk, which is the perfect breeding ground for isolation and more issues. Compulsive behaviors and addictions revel and increase in this emotionally toxic environment.

By removing shame, and turning on the lights, people facing this problem can take confidence in knowing that they are fighting this alongside millions of others who also would prefer a life without it.

While recognizing that quitting porn can be a long process they can also take comfort in knowing that they’ve started down that path toward long-term freedom.

And regardless of what your personal feelings on porn are, we have to let people choose for themselves. A choice made out of shame and self-hate is not as permanent as a choice freely made from a desire to be healthier.

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

And one more thing: research supports the idea that shaming others only increases the chasm between understanding and rebellion. If we’re serious about decreasing demand and the overall harms of this industry on our society then we had better stop thinking that shaming will work. It hasn’t in the past and it won’t in the future.

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Fight for love, no matter your story

Ultimately, we want you to know that if you watch porn, we don’t think you’re bad, disgusting, or horrible.

It’s true that there are real concerns about porn itself, but those are not necessarily true about the porn consumer. We are a movement for love that raises awareness on the harmful effects of porn, not porn consumers themselves. The fact of the matter is, having a desire to watch porn doesn’t automatically turn you into a “gross” and “perverted” human being. It means that you’re human.

Related: “I Was 8 the First Time I Saw It”: Why It’s Important Not to Judge Someone’s Porn Struggle

In a society that surrounds us with sexual stimulation, watching porn has long been considered as a “normal” way to satisfy a natural desire for sexual connection.

Human beings are naturally wired to want sex. It is part of our biology to be attracted to things that are arousing. Because sexuality is ingrained in human biology, as well as surrounds our everyday lives through the media we consume, it can be so easy for thoughtful, well-intended people to get caught up in watching porn.

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Why this matters

For those caught up in porn, realize that the effects are not always so immediate or obvious as people sometimes make them out to be.

For instance, while science and research are now showing negative effects that can result from consuming pornography, that doesn’t mean everyone who watches it is going to become a porn addict or that someone struggling will automatically and inevitably begin to ignore and neglect the relationships in their life.

Related: This Study Shows Feeling Shame Fuels Hypersexual Behavior While Feeling Guilt Fuels Change

All the same, it is true that porn can sometimes worsen existing unhealthy situations, and that’s not acceptable when it happens. Without knowing all the information, though, we can never assume that someone who consumes porn is an abuser just because they watch porn.

Whenever possible, choose love and understanding, not shame. Continue to spread the word that pornography is harmful to individuals, relationships, and society in a way that will promote love and true, lasting, positive change.

Looking to quit porn?

If you’re the one who struggles with porn, the good news is that change is absolutely possible.

Research and the experiences of thousands of people have demonstrated that over time pornography’s negative effects can be managed and largely reversed.Young K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of behavioral addictions, 2(4), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3Copy Nathanson, A. (2021). Psychotherapy with young people addicted to internet pornography. Psychoanal.Study Child, 74(1), 160-173. doi:10.1080/00797308.2020.1859286Copy 

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In fact, even in cases of serious substance and other addictions, 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, like we mentioned before, 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.

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 unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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