For many men who struggle with pornography addiction, their actions can be fueled by unhealthy core beliefs. Because of deep emotional wounds, often from childhood, they have adopted the following beliefs about themselves:
- I’m unworthy of being loved
- If people really knew me, they would reject me
- I can’t count on anyone, even God, to meet my needs
- I must find something that I can control that will meet my needs
- Pornography/sex is my greatest need and source of comfort
For most people, these beliefs are subconscious, so they may not be aware they exist; however, they can affect every facet of a person’s life. As you can see, these beliefs can keep a man trapped in his addiction. These beliefs can also apply to people struggling with other addictive substances, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, video games, food, etc.
One of the goals of recovery is to change these core beliefs. This begins through one’s support system, primarily a recovery group. By participating in a 12-step group a man can encounter a community of people who will love and accept him unconditionally. In fact, if you ever want to experience total unconditional love and acceptance, go to a 12-step group meeting. There you can share your deepest fears and the behaviors you are most ashamed of and you will be welcomed with open arms. You will not be shamed or humiliated because the members of the group understand your pain. They have experienced the same pain and they want to help you with your recovery.
The love and acceptance you will find in a support group will help you change those core beliefs to healthy ones. In a support group you will also have the opportunity to work through the 12-steps, which are invaluable for a healthy recovery. Support groups I recommend for men include:
- Celebrate Recovery
- Desert Stream Living Waters
- I.F.E. Recovery Groups
- My House Recovery Groups
- Sexaholics Anonymous
It’s recommended that you find a local group that meets in-person. This is the easiest way to develop healthy relationships in recovery. However, for those who do not have local support groups, many of these groups meet by phone and online via videoconference. If this doesn’t work for you, I recommend attending an AA meeting. While the substance you struggle with may differ, the basic dynamics of recovery apply. Plus, you will find many recovering alcoholics who also struggle with pornography addiction.
Through your work with your recovery group, and your relationship with God, you will be able to let go of the unhealthy core beliefs and adopt the following new and healthy core beliefs:
- I am loveable
- If people really knew me they could love me more
- I can count on God and others to meet my needs
- I can let go of the need for control and trust God
- God and healthy relationships are my greatest need and source of comfort.
Many experts refer to sexual addiction as an intimacy disorder. This is because deep down addicted people are using pornography and sex to ease the pain of their loneliness. One reason why they are so lonely is their shame has prevented them from getting close to people and allowing others to truly know them. This can be seen in the first two unhealthy core beliefs. Their greatest fear is rejection. Through the healthy relationships they develop in the 12-step group, addicted people can let go of the fear of rejection. They can let go of their shame and allow others to get to know them as they are and experience the unconditional love of others. As a result of this, they can let go of their old unhealthy core beliefs and finally adopt the new healthy core beliefs. With this, the need to self-medicate with pornography and sex diminishes. When a man is feeling down, instead of turning to porn, he will turn to the loving people in his recovery community.
In addition to adopting new core beliefs, your work in recovery will help you heal other relationship wounds. Surrounding yourself with people who love and accept you unconditionally will help you develop healthy intimate relationships your wife, family and friends. This will help you develop the confidence to deal with life’s challenges. With the new core beliefs and healthy intimacy, there will no longer be a need to turn to pornography or any form of sexual sin to cope with life.
If you are struggling with pornography addiction, I urge you to seek help. While it takes patience and perseverance, recovery is possible. You can live a life free of pornography.