Up until this point, we’ve talked a lot about the spiritual aspects of getting free. Today, let’s dive into the processes, both in our minds and in our bodies, that drive addiction. All addictions follow the same cycle—and the struggle with porn is no exception. That cycle is summarized below.
The Addictive Cycle
- Trigger → Response → Reward → Repeat
- An event happens that triggers a negative feeling you wish to avoid (i.e. pain, rejection, boredom, loneliness, feelings of shame, lack of control, hopelessness, sadness, stress, disappointment, etc)
- An event happens that triggers a positive feeling in your past you wish to repeat (i.e. past excitement, arousal, climax, etc).
- A behavior is chosen in an attempt to either 1) avoid negative feelings, 2) experience positive feelings, or 3) usually a combination of the first two.
- The chosen response to the trigger temporarily accomplishes the desired outcome, and a pathway is created and/or reinforced in the brain with every repetition of this cycle.
- Eventually, the shame of giving into temptation triggers more feelings of pain, unworthiness, dirtiness, weakness, and other negative feelings, which usually trigger the cycle to start all over again.
For anyone struggling to change a stubborn behavior, this cycle has played out over and over again. And when it comes to rewards, porn has a big payoff—mainly, arousal, excitement and eventually, an orgasm. This temporarily helps you feel both immense pleasure, a sense of calm, and ultimately, control—while helping you avoid pain. It provides a temporary relief from whatever negative trigger was experienced at the onset of the cycle.
Most people who struggle with porn are unaware of this cycle and how it is wreaking havoc in their lives. It’s time to change that. As you familiarize yourself with how the enemy’s schemes play out in your life, you can begin to fight with a better strategy and begin winning the war.
Day 8 Freedom Work
Scripture Reading — Read Proverbs chapter 3 through 5 slowly, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you.
Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5-7 minutes per question:
- What are the things that trigger you to want to give into temptation? Make a list of as many pain points as you can, and be as specific as possible. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to you as you write.
- When you experience pain points that trigger temptation, what would it look like to process this pain with God in prayer and with trusted friends, rather than continue down the cycle of addiction? How can you begin addressing your pain points in a healthy way?
Prayer Holy Spirit, thank you that you are known as both my comforter and my counselor. I am often in pain and unsure of how to handle it, and I often have an unhealthy response to it. Help me to learn to run to you in my pain and to rest in your affection for me. Reveal to me places where I am wounded and may not even know it, and bring healing to my wounded heart. Surround me with wise, trusted, and caring friends that can help me process my pain in a healthy way that leads to wholeness rather than bondage. I so often have tried to get out of my pain by any means possible. Thank you that no matter what I am facing, you are the Good Shepherd who leads me through the valley of the shadow of death. Help me to trust you to lead me to the other side. Amen.