We all know the phrase, ‘the hardest part is admitting you have a problem’. While this is true in many ways, I can’t help but find that often dealing with the problem can still be very difficult! If I take a long, hard and honest look at myself, I can see many problems that I brush under the carpet and ignore because it is ‘too hard’ to sort them out.
Porn is a typical example of this. We can know that it is wrong to watch porn, we can realise that we have an issue, but for some reason we keep gravitating back to it. I know this was the case for me and was also true regarding my involvement in the gay clubbing scene and with being sexually active at the time I came to faith.
As human beings we love repetition. We find security in repeated patterns of behaviour. Much of the time these are good things that are edifying to ourselves but all too easily we can end up repeating negative or damaging patterns of behaviour. These are almost always related to some deep core issue and having recognised that there is a problem, the next step is to identify the root issue. Link these to the previous two blogs. The third step is to rewire – to change the destructive behaviour. But how can we do this?
1.Tell someone and get accountable
Probably one of the most important and helpful steps in changing behaviour with regards to porn or sexual addiction is just to tell someone. Everything is so much harder when we try to do it on our own. It can be incredibly difficult but telling someone who loves you and who will help you through this struggle will make huge differences. Try using tools like X3Watch or X3Pure to get accountable.
I overcame my reliance on pornography during my late teens. The support and help of my youth pastor at the time was monumental in my struggle. I now support and mentor several friends and young people through this same struggle.
Make things easier for yourself. Did you know that X3Watch can actually block inappropriate sites as well as just monitor usage. Maybe you always end up on porn while sat up late at night on the internet? Try changing your evening routine to avoid staying up late on your own with internet access.
For myself, I know that keeping a laptop and box of tissues by my bed is opening up the door for temptation – it’s almost like having a porn magazine by my bed! I have also had to end some relationships that either caused me to continually slip up, or kept drawing me into situations or places that caused huge amounts of temptation.
3. Devise strategies to avoid the destructive pattern of behaviour
Try and come up with strategies to help you avoid looking at porn. In supporting others, I have learned that these strategies will be different for each person. Two of my favourite examples from others were reading a chapter of the Bible every time you get the desire to watch porn (I remember the teenage guy I was mentoring who did this saying “I have read more of my Bible in the last week than the rest of my life combined!”) Another example was to go on a cycle ride or doing some form of exercise. Work out a strategy that will help you.
4.Reinforce positive alternatives
This might depend upon what the root issue is. If, for example, you turn to porn because you are stressed, find another way of dealing with that in a positive way and reinforce this behaviour. It might be through exercise or socialising or finding a way to ease the pressure at work. In the same way that we reinforce negative behaviour patterns by repeatedly doing them, we can rewire our bodies and brains by repeating positive alternatives.
Alongside finding a way to positively deal with the root issue, being in the habit of reading scripture and praying will make a big difference. Struggles with sexuality or porn can tempt us to turn away from God, but instead we should dig into him and draw our strength from him. My journey with sexuality and pornography has allowed me to know and rely on God in ways I never would have otherwise. God promises to transform us by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12). This renewal is an on-going process as we focus on living for God. As we grow deeper in relationship with him, the Holy Spirit works within us to enable us to live a life that is loving towards both God and neighbour, and edifying to ourselves.
5. Start now & persevere
Put away the excuses and start now. It’s so easy to put it off until next week, or till things at work are less stressful, or till I’m in a relationship or whatever. There will never be a ‘good time’ to try and tackle a porn addiction and your unlikely to suddenly feel like it. Stop making excuses and start doing something.
Pornography and sexual addictions, just like drug addictions, are difficult to overcome. It is not impossible though. Every time we successfully choose not to give into the temptation, it helps to rewire our brains. Porn can be harder than some drugs because it takes longer to ‘get it out of our system’. The images can stay in our minds for years. It is a day-by-day repeated decision to choose God that forms into a positive behaviour pattern, leading us out of the negative behaviour patterns of pornography and sexual addictions. Making that repeated decision takes perseverance. Hopefully the previous 5 steps will make this process easier.