You vowed to yourself that you wouldn’t and promised your wife that it was over. You’ve met with your pastor and confessed. And you even told a few of your closest guy friends. Thankfully, they were supportive and agreed to pray for you. But the other night, after the kids were tucked in bed and your wife turned in early, you felt the pull. You’ve spent months trying harder to quit, but cannot forget the images running through your mind. “One more video can’t hurt. I’ve worked so hard today at the office and I deserve a little fun,” you say to yourself. “I’m really trying hard not to give in, but everyone’s asleep except me.”
And thus, old patterns begin to repeat themselves. One slip up turns into another, and soon, you’re right back to where you started—alone and ashamed.
With 40-45% of what we do daily being habit, the last thing you want is to make the pattern of sin a habit. Yet, it can feel impossible to overcome.
Old Habits Die Hard
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg notes, “Scientists have studied the brains of alcoholics, smokers, and over-eaters and have measured how their neurology—the structures of their brains and the flow of neurochemicals inside their skulls—changes as their cravings became ingrained. Particularly strong habits, wrote two researchers at the University of Michigan, produce addiction-like reactions so that ‘wanting evolves into obsessive craving’ that can force our brains into autopilot, ‘even in the face of strong disincentives, including loss of reputation, job, home, and family.’ However, these cravings don’t have complete authority over us.”
You might be somewhat relieved to know that ‘trying harder’ on your own rarely works. You are not alone in feeling this way. Beginning to recognize ‘cues’ or “triggers” that cause you to seek out behavior that offers a reward is key to turning the tides on an addiction—and your addiction to porn is similar to other kinds of addiction.
“And most people, when they think about habits, they focus on the behavior or the routine. But what we’ve learned is that it’s the cue and the reward that really determine why a habit unfolds.”
Knowing what you’re up against is half the battle.
The old belief that it takes only 21-days to break a habit has been exposed to be a myth. Studies have shown in many cases that it takes 65-days or far longer to break a habit. With addiction, it takes a minimum of 90-days, which is why many treatment facilities have 90-day programs.
You might need to give yourself some grace—it’s normal to struggle and typical to encounter setbacks. What is proven is that ‘going at it alone’ seldom works—even with family, friends, and your pastor praying for you.
Most of the time, prayer and ‘white-knuckling it’ aren’t enough to combat this type of problem. They must be coupled with proven systems of helping people break the cycles of addiction. It takes hard work—and humility—to seek counseling, to join a support group, and to get help that offers lasting freedom.
Often, we find that our bad habits and addictions stem from pain in our past, a longing to be known, perhaps even physical or emotional wounding we endured as a child. Taking stock of our lives—who has wronged us, who we have wronged—and looking to understand the ‘why’ behind it all can help with our recovery.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 15:19,
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
Every one of us has bad habits. Every one of us has bad thoughts. It’s tough to come face-to-face with our insufficiencies and admit we need help.
But we do need help, and trying harder in isolation is not the solution.
Connection Makes a Difference
Just like many alcoholics go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and work the 12-steps to recover and heal, you also need people around you to foster a community of grace-filled support and resources to kick the habit of porn.
To help break bad sexual habits we recommend the Conquer Series. It combines both Science and Scripture to help guide individuals on the process of pursuing a life void of sexual sin. It gives you the tools to fight and explains why trying harder does not work. As you walk through this riveting study, you’ll become educated on how the brain changes through the viewing of pornography. You’ll also learn the importance of finding your identity in Christ. And finally, you will hear powerful testimonies that will remind you that freedom is possible, regardless of how far into the depths of sin you have traveled.
To date, more than one million men have started their journey to a life free from porn through the use of the Conquer Series. Many churches around the world now offer a Conquer Group for men. In some locations, the Conquer Series has been used with women and couples as well. It’s not too late to pursue healing for yourself.
The Conquer Series is a powerful cinematic series which is helping over 1 million men conquer porn and walk in freedom.
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