You Made a Mistake and Looked at Porn. So Now What?

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Written Version

Relapse. Going off your protocol. Call it what you want. It is still a neutral thing until you have a thought about it in your mind.

Question: Will it happen or not? Answer: Exactly.

Feelings come from the thoughts we choose. Feelings drive our actions.

Many people are afraid of relapsing. Does fear drive the actions you are looking for? Fear of relapse leads to relapse.

Why are we afraid? Because of how we treat ourselves after we do look at porn. Because of what me make it mean about us. Because of how much we will beat the crap out of ourselves.

If you talk to your wife or bishop or God, do you feel like you need to beat yourself up in front of them to show how sorry you are and how serious you are about wanting to stop? Even if you don’t talk to anybody, how do you talk to yourself? Does it help?

So what we are actually afraid of is something we have complete control over: how we will treat ourselves when we fail.

What if failure is part of the process? What if it is meant to be?

What if stopping looking at porn is a skill and you just haven’t learned it yet? When you learn a new skill, do you expect yourself to do it perfectly right away?

When relapse happens, some people say that they “fell off the wagon,” or they’re “back at ground zero,” “starting all over again.” There is no such thing as starting all over again.

You are where you are, don’t try to be somewhere you are not. You are WHO you are; don’t try to be SOMEONE you are not. This does not help.

What if who you are is a fluid thing? What if change is possible?

What if you can unlearn your obsession with pornography? What if you can learn how to not want porn all the time?

And what if you are acceptable and worthy at every point along the way, including right now!

In the church, we have learned that pornography is a “bad” thing. What if failure is a good thing?

What if we are meant to choose “bad” things sometimes as part of our learning process? What if it means something is right with you if you have chosen pornography sometimes?

What if it means you are a human on this earth? What if God intended it to be this way?

I don’t know about you, but there were times when I asked God to remove this “problem” or “struggle” from me? So why doesn’t he do this for us? I don’t know but do we trust that he has a good reason? Maybe it’s because he respects our agency (our freedom to choose) too much.

In Ether 12:27 God says “I give unto men weakness.” Would God give us something not for our benefit?

If we really believe God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly loving, then we would not see our struggle with pornography as a curse. We would see it as a part of the experience of having a human body.

What if we look at the human experience as a gift? The WHOLE experience.

I think God sees value in the struggle. I think he wants us to learn and how can you learn without failing? You cannot.

Just like stopping looking at pornography is a skill, learning how to fail well is a skill. So how can you fail well when you go off protocol and look at porn?

  1. Honor yourself. Have your own back.
  2. Remember that your actions are in no way tied to your worth as a human. You are a worthy human no matter what you do or don’t do. You cannot increase/diminish your worth.
  3. Remember you are not starting over. There is no such thing.
  4. Acceptance: accept where you are, who you are, what actions you have chosen.
  5. Practice keeping your prefrontal cortex in charge. You may want to brush over your relapse and forget about it (your lower brain wants this). I have an exercise for clients called Write it Down and Move On. Basically you take judgment out and look at all the details of what happened, how you can learn from it, what you will do differently next time, and then you move on. You need to do this with every single relapse.
  6. Learn how to allow urges without rewarding them (different than white-knuckling). This is a skill I teach as well.
  7. Remove the drama.

When you decide you are going to treat yourself this way, the relapse becomes less scary. And when you are less fearful of relapse, something magical happens: you relapse less.


To get going learning the skill of not looking at porn check out my free guide “How to Stop Looking at Porn.”

If you want to stop looking at porn and need help learning how, check out my How to Stop Looking at Porn Program by scheduling a free mini-session with me. Click here.

2 thoughts on “You Made a Mistake and Looked at Porn. So Now What?

  1. Loved this one Danny!

    1. Yeah I really like how this one turned out too!

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