What causes the worst pain in your life?
I don’t necessarily mean physical pain as in stubbing your toe or breaking your arm. I mean what causes the most emotional pain?
What are some things in your life that you have a hard time dealing with? What are some things that you’re unwilling to face because thinking about it or dwelling on it hurts?
Maybe it’s thinking about the abuse you suffered as a child. Maybe it’s an ever-present fear of failure or rejection. Maybe it’s shame from a sinful past that you’d rather just hide from.
It’s natural to want to avoid pain. When you hurt your hand on something, you instinctively pull it away. If you twist your body the wrong way and a jolt of pain goes up your back, it’s natural to seek relief.
Emotional pain works much the same way. When something affects us inside we want to pull away or immediately seek relief.
But emotional pain is different. Pulling away or seeking immediate relief doesn’t always work. Often that pain stays with us long after the initial injury occurred.
What we then learn to do is simply to avoid anything that causes emotional pain. Whenever something happens to trigger that pain in us, we run away to something in order to make us feel better.
What do we run away to?
If you’re reading this post, there’s a good likelihood it’s porn or sex. We use porn and sex as a salve for the pain we are unable to cope with. At some point in our lives, usually early teens, we learned that we could “escape” hurt feelings and emotional pain by indulging in porn, masturbation, and sex. Eventually, we got hooked.
Our brains rewired themselves to seek out porn the instant we felt any sort of negative emotion. We became addicted not to the porn, but to the dopamine rush that we used to self-medicate our pain.
This is why defeating addiction is so difficult. It’s not just breaking bad habits, it’s learning how to properly cope with and process that emotional pain.
Dealing with that pain is what it takes to overcome porn and sex addiction. Anything else is only treating the symptoms.
You can have all the software blockers in the world, you can attempt to avoid triggers, you can read every book on porn addiction there is, none of it will provide lasting healing until you deal with the emotional pain in your life.
We need to stop running away from pain and turn around and face it.
Dr. Ted Roberts writes in the Conquer Series – The Battle Plan For Purity:
“Sexual bondage is not about sex. It’s about how you’ve learned to medicate the pain in your life. Once you start facing this, your pain level will actually go up. Because you’ve been medicating that pain for so long, you’ll have to put your big boy pants on, and you’ll have to face the pain.”
It’s a double-edged sword. We have to face the pain in order to heal, but addressing it actually causes more pain. This is why relapse is so common among recovering porn and sex addicts.
Once you start peeling off those layers of bandaids and expose the wound, it hurts all over again and you want to run right back to your addiction for relief.
This moment is where sexual addiction is defeated.
We must learn to sit with those emotions and feel them, process them, and manage them in a healthy way. We need to grieve the pain of any loss we’ve experienced. We need to forgive the wrongs that were done to us. We need to dispel the painful lies about ourselves we’ve come to believe. This process is what breaks us free from the bonds that hold us captive to our addiction.
We often need help to do this. You cannot defeat addiction alone. This is where coaching and counseling can help you work through the pain and learn to process it.
Learning to embrace and process pain in a healthy way is the path to living porn free.
So take a deep breath, find your strength, and face that pain you’ve been avoiding for so long.
You can do it, brother. I believe in you. God is by your side. He can give you the strength, the courage, and determination to breakthrough.
This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it will also provide the greatest reward…
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