If Resolutions Fade: 6 Timeless Tools to Quit Porn {or anything else}

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Although this is an article intended to help those who desired to give up porn as part of their New Year's Resolutions, these tips on "what to do now" work for any habit you're trying to break. Whatever your detrimental habit may be, it's time for a check-in. 

How are you really doing?

I've found that the habits that bring the most separation between God and me are those that temporarily fill a hole in my heart. And the enemy to my health (physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional) is intent on helping me keep filling said hole with things that don't last so that I don't discover the fruitlessness of my actions. As I wrote in my journal the other day:

A faulty belief system is like a hole in a bucket—no matter how much you put in it, it will never be enough.

Things like porn, food, worldly approval will never fill our hearts to overflowing. And yet, if you're anything like us, you keep trying. How do we ultimately break the cycle? Here are some helpful strategies:

1) Involve Jesus.

Craig tried giving up porn numerous times. He tried steely resolve, guilting himself, and entertaining the possible threat of my leaving. None of those were enough to keep him away. It wasn’t until he realized that this process was something Jesus wanted to help him with that he started making progress.

Oftentimes, we think we need to clean up our act and then start (or continue a deeper) relationship with God. But the point of being a Savior is saving people, not requiring them to save themselves. Wherever you are on your journey to giving up porn, ask Jesus into the process. It is when we are weak and when we admit that we can’t do it all ourselves that His strength manifests in us (2 Cor. 12:9, NLT). When we try to go at anything alone, we rob ourselves of the incredibly transformative power of God.

2) Stop overthinking.

The Journal of Nature and Science recently reported their findings on why only 22% of us exercise regularly, even though we know that exercise is crucial for a healthy body and prolonged life. Part of their discovery was this: you have to make a conscious decision to go out and do it. However, this conscious processing “likely activates feelings of threat to personal freedom (‘exercise-or-else’) and the human tendency to follow ‘the law of least effort’ in occasional/non-exercisers.”

I think we can extrapolate these findings on some level to giving up porn. Chances are if you want to give up porn, it’s likely because either you or someone you love believes it is harmful to you or to your relationships. Anytime we feel forced to give something up, we often find it greatly limits our freedom of choice and that can stir in us desires to rebel. In addition, if we are using porn to self-soothe or self-medicate (much like I used to do with food), we become dependent on the quick fix from our addictive substance to bring instantaneous relief. The study reported that:

“In general, the initiation and maintenance of any complex and demanding behavior operates on a continuum of conscious-nonconscious processing such that when starting a new activity program (e.g., exercise), conscious processing dominates behavioral engagement.  But after countless repeats, the nonconscious takes over and behavior becomes habitual, thereby being sustained in the long run.”

In essence, perhaps we can think less about giving up porn and simply do the actions required to avoid it. The more we lament what we are giving up, the more we think about our loss of freedom to choose porn, the more we will engage our conscious process, and the more likely we will not move towards health.

You can continue reading over on the Covenant Eyes blog here.