Three Taverns Church

8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography – Step 2


Welcome to the second installment of my 8-part series titled “8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography”! Before I get to today’s Step I’d like to explain the Addiction Cycle, something which usually comes into play when a person uses pornography. A lot of people who are trying to give up pornography focus all their energy on not using pornography itself. The problem with that approach is that the battle is lost long before you ever jump on the Internet to hit your favorite adult sites. That fight started much earlier than most people realize. Check out the graph below:

Most people who struggle with pornography don’t realize that the TV shows they watch and the magazines they look at while standing in line at the grocery store are what really get them in trouble. Brains that have been conditioned with pornography are trained to respond to stimulus like Pavlov’s dogs. For example: Stimulus: Sexual magazine cover; Response: Fantasize about the person on the magazine cover, begin ritual behavior (flip through the magazine, go home and sit down at the computer, surf the ‘net for “harmless” pics, etc.), and then act out. The key is to stop the cycle before it gets going, before you begin to fantasize. Once you begin fantasizing it is extremely difficult to stop the addiction cycle; most people who enter the “Fantasy” portion of the cycle will complete the entire cycle.

Here’s how the book “Breaking Free” by Russell Willingham describes the Addiction Cycle:

– Visual/Emotional Trigger (this could be an attractive girl, a magazine cover, a video on YouTube, anything that ‘triggers’ your brain into thinking of sex)
– Repression of pain with immediate sexual/romantic longings
– Fantasizing/planning stage (As noted above, this is the critical step; if you can make a phone call at or before this point in the cycle, you have a high chance of remaining ‘sober’…once you progress to the next step it becomes extremely difficult to avoid acting out)
– The hunt
– The connection
– The act (the part that most guys focus on, but as you can see, it’s already too late)
– Fulfillment
– The letdown (the inevitable shame and guilt we feel every single time)
– The vow (I’ll never do it again)
– The cycle begins again

That brings us to Step 2: Bounce Your Eyes.

It’s actually pretty simple…you have to stay out of the Addiction Cycle to stay away from pornography, and often it’s your eyes that begin the Fantasy segment of the cycle; thus, you have to control your eyes. “Bouncing” your eyes is the method many people use to accomplish this. By “bouncing” your eyes I mean that as soon as you catch yourself looking at a “triggering” person or image, “bounce” your eyes away to something else. It is very common to “bounce” your eyes away from someone, only to go right back to looking at the person you just “bounced” away from. That’s OK. Just bounce your eyes away again…and again…and again. As many times as it takes. By “bouncing” your eyes you are re-wiring your brain, instead of staring and fantasizing. It is hard work to rewire your brain so don’t get discouraged if “bouncing” is difficult at first; just keep doing it! I know that when I first started, I would sometimes have to say the word “bounce” out loud if I was in a highly triggering place, like the gym.

Today’s challenge: Every time you catch yourself looking at a sexually triggering image or person for the next 24 hours, “bounce” your eyes away immediately, as many times as it takes. Try it and see how you feel by the end of the day tomorrow!

5 thoughts on “8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography – Step 2

  1. Sounds simple enough.

  2. A thought or idea PRECEDES visual/emotional trigger. Thought comes before emotion. It doesn’t seem like it a lot of the time especially if an emotion rises up suddenly and seems to move immediately to uncontrollable emotion. That emotion is actually driven by a preconceived thought. Triggers for addictions are fueled by the thoughts that are evoked by the trigger “visual/emotional stimulus. The key to neutralizing and thus nullifying that trigger is to identify the underlying thought or belief, examining it as to its validity and then taking steps to adjust/change one’s thought or belief. Usually with adictive triggers the underlying thought/belief has to do with one’s self-worth or value. A christian might ask themself “Who am I in God’s eyes?” Then search that out so that you can start believing the truth about God and about yourself. This will take you down a path of healing that does not rely solely on one” own self-control and/or self-discipline. God says that HE is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He tells us to delight ourselves in Him and HE shall give us the desires of our heart. And further, to commit our way to the Lord, trust in Him, and HE will bring it to pass. HE will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and justice as the noonday (Psalm 37:4-6).

    • I disagree that thoughts or ideas always precede triggers. I have been surprised on numerous occasions (especially recently) by triggers. These triggers then seem to draw out all of those feelings of self-worth you describe. The magnitude of a trigger’s effect does seem to be determined by the pre-conceived thoughts you noted. On the whole, I agree with most of what you say. Also, I would argue that while many people claim to believe the Bible (and hopefully we do on some level) reading those words and believing those words are very different things. Many addicts have a skewed image of God; for men, God is usually our Dad. Before Scripture can become effective in defining our self-worth we have to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He is not our earthly father. Great comments, though!

  3. The thought is what makes the “trigger” a trigger. The trigger is a reminder of a thought, most often so deep-seated that one is not even conscious of it.

    It is good if a once negative trigger brings out good thoughts and beliefs because now the mind is becoming renewed and that makes it able to over-power the once underlying negative thought behind the once destructive trigger. It’s a process, and sometimes even an instantaneous miracle. God is so generous!

    I agree totally with your comments about reading and believing the Bible. They definitely are two different things. Thank God that HE IS the Author and FINISHER of our faith so that what HE says is possible IS ACTUALLY possible. I agree—we need to continue to grow in our knowledge, understanding and wisdom of who GOD IS and then to know WHO WE ARE IN GOD. That is a life-long journey!

    I agree—many addicts and non-addicts(if there are any) have a skewed image of God. We probably ALL do! In some way! Yes many men and many women, too, think of their earthly father (or mother, or priest, or some other strong authority in their life, usually early life) as their GOD or at least their reference point for God. At some point we need to dethrone these godheads in our lives. We have to take our earthly “tutors” (Gal. 3:25) off the pedestals we put them on when they were so big and tall and loud and all-knowing, and the source of all our needs, and we were so tiny and powerless. When we were little tikes Dad and Mom looked so very tall and they controlled our lives! How could they be wrong or bad or selfish? After all—they Love us and take care of us—or at least they say they do. And we believe them.

    Thank God that our parents are NOT perfect because if they were they would continue to be our god(s) and we would look no further—-we would never have a need to seek out the One True God!! Sometimes it is harder for a person who had good and “loving” parents to find their heavenly parent because they find it hard to let go of their childhood perspective of their parents. It was a big and painful transformation for me but it was what I needed and what my heart and spirit needed. They became my most treasured gifts from my Heavenly Father/Parent. It was tough for my parents too. Parents get use to their usual seats.

    You’re doing good, Stephen. We’re blessed to have you in the family. And we appreciate your appreciation of Lane. We totally agree with you on how wonderful she is. She has always been a fragrant flower with a loving heart, carrying the strength of the gift of True Friendship. She has always worshipped God in her heart even before she knew what she was doing. She has a heart of pure gold! Such a gift she has been to us and to our whole family!! Mary

  4. Eye bounce technique is really good info. I’ve learned to be incredibly careful about what I am exposed to…tv, internet, print, real life, etc. I don’t want to open myself up to those triggers. Plus the benefits of having “eyes only” for your spouse are amazing! The freedom in that kind of love and honor for your wife can change your mindset completely! Writing about that is actually one of the main reasons I started a blog.

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