A Loss of Heart
One of the most precious things than any individual can experience is a healthy sense of who they are in relation to the rest of the world. Yet, in all my clinical work, I have rarely seen any phenomena affect an individual’s sense of worth like pornography. It strikes at the very heart of the one who has been caught in its bonds, and removes from them any sense of purpose and direction. It is hard to put into words how it changes one’s perspective of themselves, however there is an emotional basis for this change.
Guilt, Shame, and the Erosion of Self
Guilt and shame are common emotional responses in men and women who view pornography. They play a key role in facilitating a thought process that leads to an erosion of the self. Here are a few examples of thoughts which facilitate an ongoing negative self- perception:
- I am weak and such a failure.
- God is disappointed in me and can no longer work through me.
- My friends are so much stronger than I am.
- I’ll never be free of using pornography.
When an individual who uses pornography dwells on such thoughts, they are sure to feel bad emotionally and view themselves in a negative light. These negative self-perceptions, along with feelings of guilt and shame, additionally contribute to patterns of isolation.
For many, the thought of approaching another individual is utterly fear provoking. They fear losing reputability in the eyes of others. They struggle with the thought of having to admit to some degree of personal failure, and they harbor uncertainty as to how another person may respond to their disclosure. I know from my own previous battle with pornography use just how powerful the fear associated with being open with a trusted friend can be.
Stopping the Negative Cycle
Personally, seeking the support of others was a crucial step in overcoming my use of pornography. Whether I had fully succeeded or failed, I always had others who could help keep me moving forward and provide encouragement. Furthermore, taking the first step of actually telling someone about my struggle was the starting point in ultimately overcoming my usage.
As a clinician, I can confidently say that those I have treated who have chosen to be open with a trusted professional, friend, pastor, or colleague about their use have ultimately identified doing so as a primary step in their recovery. My point is that a strength and freedom come from breaking the secrecy and being open with another individual about one’s use. In the end, those who do so facilitate the change process in their lives, because they are no longer caught in the pattern of hiding.
Reclaiming the Self
Having support from others and avoiding usage of pornography over an increasing period of time allows you to avoid the guilt, shame, and negative self-perceptions. It also help reinforce the following:
- You are not a failure.
- You are strong.
- You can break free from using pornography.
- God can use you in spite of your past.
- Your friends and others may need you to help them end their own struggle with pornography.
However, breaking free requires more than simply reaching out for support. You must immediately challenge every thought that tempts you to return to previous patterns. In the beginning, you may have to do this constantly. Yet, this process becomes easier over time as your mind becomes used to focusing on other things besides pornography. Ultimately, the goal is to remain free of further use.
Here’s what Scripture has to say about this:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
2 Corinthians 10:5, ASV
This verse clearly shows that you and I are engaged in a daily spiritual battle, and that the battle ground is largely centered in our minds. Reclaiming your identity and healing from an addiction to pornography require that you infuse into your mind “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8, ASV).”
Seeking Help Through Christian Counseling
For those of you reading this article who are struggling to overcome your use of pornography, working with a Christian counselor can be an important means of helping you effectively address those usage patterns. Here at Seattle Christian Counseling, you can process the emotional, relational, spiritual, and psychological impact pornography has had on your life, and learn how to bring healing to those specific areas. As a practitioner who focuses on providing treatment for individuals, couples, and families who have been impacted by pornography use, I would be glad to either schedule a consultation with you, or to coordinate with you by email if you have any specific questions related to the issue of pornography. You can reach me by going to seattlechristiancounseling.com
“Wait a Minute,” courtesy of Md saad and allb (CC BY 2.0) Flickr CreativeCommons; ” . . . Born from a Noble Soul,” courtesy of Varvara, (CC BY 2.0) Flickr CreativeCommons