What To Do When Faced With A Trigger?

We’ve all been there.

You’ll be doing great in you’re battle with porn and sex addiction.  You’re not spending too much time on your phone or computer.  You’re keeping grounded in prayer, Scripture, and meditation.  You’re checking in regularly with your support system and accountability partner.

Them BAM! Something comes out of nowhere and all of sudden you’re on the verge of relapsing and throwing away all your great progress.

Your mind has gone right back into addiction mode.  It craves the porn.  It wants the release.  “Just one time won’t hurt. You deserve it.”

But your heart knows better.  You know it won’t be “just once”.  You don’t want to go back to your old ways. You want to keep building momentum in your battle.

What happened?  You were faced with a trigger.

So what do you do? 

Well first let’s identify some things.

What is a trigger?

According to Dr. Robert Weiss,  a leading expert on sexual addiction, a trigger is: 

“Any internal or external catalyst that creates a desire for you to look at pornography” 

Basically, if something causes you to want to look at porn or masturbate, it’s a trigger.  It could be anything really.  It could be a feeling, a visual image, or a situation you find yourself in.

Triggers can be both external and internal. 

External triggers can be: 

  • -Exposure to sexual images (TV, Movies, Magazines, Social Media) 
  • -Being alone without something to do 
  • -An argument with your spouse/girlfriend 
  • -Bad day at work 
  • -Financial stress 
  • -Any type of unexpected event (good or bad) 

Internal triggers can be: 

  • -Anger 
  • -Depression 
  • -Boredom 
  • -Stress 
  • -Loneliness 
  • -Anxiety

Some of my biggest internal triggers were anxiety, stress, and frustration. I would feel overwhelmed and would go to porn for relief. 

Being alone, work stress, and exposure to sexual images were external triggers that lead me down the path to acting out. 

Once you identify the triggers that cause you to seek out porn, you have to take steps to remove them from your life or minimize exposure to them.

But no matter how hard you try to avoid and remove triggers; you WILL still be exposed to them. There is no way to 100% avoid triggers. The enemy (Satan) will make sure of that.

How to respond to a trigger:

Here’s a great way to remember what to do when you’re faced with a trigger.  Remember the “Four R’s”

  1. Remove Yourself or the Trigger

Get the hell out of there! Remove yourself from the situation. Get as far away from the trigger as you can. Or Remove the trigger. Throw it away or turn it off. The Bible tells us to flee from sexual immorality. So, when faced with something that triggers you, get away from it!

  1. Reach Out To Your Support System

These are the moments that your support and accountability partner is there for. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed and starting to return to that cycle, call for help! Talk to someone who can walk you through what you’re feeling and support you. They can be there for you and lift you up when you’re feeling weak and susceptible.

  1. Reflect through Scripture and Prayer

Every time Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He responded by quoting Scripture. When you are triggered, open your Bible and find strength. Even better, memorize particular verses and repeat them over and over when you’re tempted. Pray to God to give you strength and help you to avoid the temptation. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble

  1. Re-Engage Your Mind

Instead of letting the trigger get a foothold in your mind, immediately re-engage your mind on something else.  Do something that requires focus and concentration.  Some great things to do are to read a book, exercise, work on something with your hands, or engage in conversation with someone.  That way your mind won’t dwell on the trigger and you can focus your thoughts on positive things.

You will be faced with triggers regularly.  In order to live porn free, you must have a plan to respond to them. 

Stay strong brothers.  Keep fighting.  NEVER GIVE UP.

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Published by Timothy Reigle

I’m Timothy Reigle, the founder of Into The Wilderness Ministries. After overcoming a fifteen year addiction to porn and sex, I have made it my life’s mission to help other men break free from the bonds of addiction. As an author, coach, and chaplain, I work with men to transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity.

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