Yes, pornography. Everyone knows what pornography is.
You can probably remember the first time you saw porn. It’s hard to not remember that magazine you found on the street, that picture you saw at your friend’s house or that video you watched in your high school locker room. Those memories stick with us.
The “high” you get from porn.
There’s a good reason why we remember things like that. It’s because of the way our brains work. The University of Cambridge conducted a study that found viewing pornography releases chemicals in our brains that give us highs similar to what drug addicts experience while taking controlled substances. That “high” helps our brains remember what we were doing, seeing and experiencing during the high so it remembers how to get those good feelings to return.
Getting stuck in the cycle of pornography.
This leads us into the cycle of pornography. This cycle goes something like this:
You see pornography.
You like what you see and feel good about it in the moment.
The feeling ends and you are hooked. You need to keep looking at more and more pornography to get those feelings to return.
The more you see, the more you realize that it is never enough. You could never see enough porn to make you satisfied because it’s not real, but you want to keep trying to look at all the porn you can because it makes you feel good.
Pornography and relationships.
Pornography doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone in your life – wives, husbands, families and friends. Husbands and wives are suffering because of porn usage. Your children are also being negatively affected. They deserve the best version of you. Choosing to ban pornography from your life helps your relationships for the better.
Banning pornography from your life.
Starting porn is the easy part. One glance can get you hooked. Quitting porn is not so easy. You have to really want to quit to break the cycle of pornography.
1. Commitment to quit.
You need to understand what porn is doing to your brain and your relationships and really want to quit. There is no middle ground in the battle against porn. Otherwise, you will only be committed to stopping porn until you see it again. Then you will have to start all over. You need to find your commitment to quit deep inside you.
2. Know Your Triggers.
You need to look at what you’re doing. Carefully consider everything you do. Think about: What makes you think about porn? What environments trigger that response to pornography in you? What makes you give in to looking at pornography? Know your pressure points ahead of time so you are ready when the thoughts hit you.
3. Establish accountability.
Next, establish accountability. Talk about your struggles with pornography with a support partner who knows what you are dealing with. You can use a friend, family member, life coach or someone at your church. Share your porn problems because it makes talking about them and staying free of them easier when more people are involved.
4. Burn the bridges to pornography.
You can only ban pornography from your life if you do not have access to it. Get rid of all the pornography you have. Deactivate your porn website accounts, delete your secret stashes, throw out the magazines, shred the pictures and erase the videos. Do not keep anything. If you do, you may be strong for a while, but you can easily fall back into looking at porn since you still have easy access to it.
5. Block routes to pornography.
Block the ways you access pornography on the internet and on your phone. Use a porn blocker like Covenant Eyes on your computers and mobile devices. Avoid places you used to pick up porn. Avoid people and friends who draw you back into that environment. Be aware of the ways you find porn and avoid them.
Maintain Daily Accountability
You’re almost there! Using the 5 steps above will help break the cycle of pornography. Lastly, keep the accountability going and maintain it on a daily basis. Setup an agreement with your accountability partner so you can call or talk to them anytime you find yourself struggling with thoughts about pornography or find yourself falling back into your old habits.
Create challenges and consequences.
You might find it easier to staying dedicated to being porn free if you create challenges and consequences. Pick something you really hate to do and make yourself do it if you look at porn again. For example: you can make yourself pick up trash, donate money to an organization, do some intense workouts with burpees or volunteer your time.
Pornography is worth banning from your life. You have to decide what it’s worth to you. I decided to make a commitment to live porn free almost 25 years ago and have taken polygraph tests to prove it. I believe you’re worth it too.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including Lust Free Living. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.