How long does it take to get over a pornography habit? Why doesn’t God just take it from me? Find answers to these and other questions right here.
Pornography can be a painful and difficult subject. But despite the struggle a pornography habit or addiction may bring, it’s important to know that we are never alone in our struggles. Our paths to healing and overcoming weaknesses and challenges may be different, but thanks to a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, every one of us can have hope.
Here are five hope-filled answers to difficult questions about addressing and overcoming pornography.
We often want to count our days of abstaining from pornography as a way of evaluating whether we are making progress. Although abstinence from viewing pornography is one of the outcomes we seek, just stopping isn’t a plan. Many find that the best indicator of progress has more to do with how our heart is changing than how long we have gone without viewing pornography.
Overcoming pornography—as with any other major challenge we face—requires patience, time, and consistency. It takes time and concerted effort to identify our influences and make plans. We also must be prepared to encounter setbacks and adversity and to respond by learning more, adjusting our plans, seeking to make progress, and preparing for future setbacks. Change can be a frustrating process, but when we turn to the Lord and wait upon Him, He will strengthen us in our struggles (see Isaiah 40:31).
Many of us pray sincerely that God will take our pornography issues away, believing that He has the power to do so, if He only will. However, He is more concerned with our development and growth than He is with making our difficulties go away.
When we are struggling with pornography, we can experience feelings of discouragement and frustration. We often hide these feelings from others and especially from God. We may feel we can’t approach Him for forgiveness until we have solved our problems on our own, but our loving Heavenly Father has provided a way for us to work through our challenges with the help of the Savior.
Although some people stop viewing pornography on their own, many find that getting the right help makes all the difference. Pornography use often flourishes in secrecy and isolation, and opening up can help us find emotional support and connection.
Turning to others can also help us understand the difference between guilt and shame. Shame leads us to believe that because we did something bad, we are bad. Guilt helps us to recognize that while we are good people, we made bad decisions.
When we open up, we allow others to care for us, help us recognize our value, and support us even though we have weaknesses.
President M. Russell Ballard taught, “Some have difficulty differentiating between a goal and a plan until they learn that a goal is a destination or an end, while a plan is the route by which you get there” (“Return and Receive,” Apr. 2017 general conference). Setting a goal to stop viewing pornography and repent of the effects requires careful planning. To create a successful plan, you can:
- Seek inspiration.
- Identify triggers and establish barriers.
- Decide how you will respond to setbacks and adversity.
A relapse can be discouraging to us and damaging to our relationships, particularly as we strive to move forward. One way to gain strength and avoid relapses is by becoming accountable. Accountability begins with a commitment to be humble and honest with ourselves and others about our behaviors and emotions. Becoming accountable also includes admitting when we are wrong and accepting the consequences.
As we seek to overcome pornography, we must be accountable to ourselves, God, and others in our lives. Many also find it helpful to have an accountability partner—someone of the same gender they can report their progress to.
These answers originally appeared on addressingpornography.lds.org, the Church’s new website that provides hope, help, and healing for those wishing to address the impact of pornography. There you can find more answers to these questions and others, as well as commentary from qualified therapists and experts, stories from real people, and guidance from Church leaders.