You just watched porn. You probably masturbated. It probably felt great, too. But now it’s all over and you’re staring at the screen feeling sick. What was exciting and enticing only moments ago now confuses and frustrates you. what do you do once you hit that exit button (and probably three other pop-up windows) and you’ve well and truly returned to your mind and reality?
Friends, I am right here with you on the journey. I know what it feels like to be tempted, to indulge and I really know what it feels like to experience the overwhelming shame that follows a lapse. I know what it’s like. You are not alone.
Let’s get to the practical though, shall we? What do you do immediately after you’ve used porn? Here are eight steps for you.
1. Clean up your mess and surrounding
Let’s be real, whether you’re a guy or a lady, it can get messy. The first step is an obvious one, go and clean yourself up! Do whatever you need to do, grab yourself a fresh pair of underwear, have a shower, whatever you may need. Put away anything that triggers a memory of your most recent lapse (laptop and box of tissues included) and allow yourself to start afresh.
This step is not only about hygiene and making you feel less gross but is about creating a clean space to move forward.
2. Tell yourself ‘not today, shame!’
Shame is a crafty little critter. If you’re not on your guard, it will sneak its way into your life and make a home inside your mind, and trust me, shame is one tough tenant to evict once it’s in!
Right away, you need to assert yourself against shame. You need to say, ‘No. I will not wallow, and feel sorry for myself and let shame in!’. Don’t even entertain the thought of indulging in your shame for just a moment. This helps no only makes you feel like trash. I know it’s tempting to sink into negativity and self-hatred after breaking your promises and watching porn, but you can’t let it happen.
3. Tell someone about it
Secrets are dangerous. In the isolation of your mind, shame can spread like wildfire and destroy you. Talk to your pastor, parent, or someone you trust who can help you.
According to Bren Brown, ‘Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.’ By keeping quiet, Brown says your shame will grow exponentially. The antidote is empathy. She explains that by talking about your shame with a friend who expresses empathy, ‘the painful feeling cannot survive.’
4. Make a decision
While your conviction is fresh, use your lapse to make a change. Identify where and how you managed to access porn and make this impossible to repeat or visit the site. Did you get tripped up on a Twitter hashtag? Delete your account and/or block the site. Was it an Instagram or Facebook page that posted a picture or comment that triggered you? Unfriend, delete, block, and maybe even take a social media hiatus for a while.
Use this fresh memory to identify your emotional triggers, too. Ask yourself these questions:
1.‘What emotions was I feeling leading up to the event?’
2.‘Is there anything on my mind or worrying me?’
3.‘What negative experiences have I had today or this week?’
4.‘Why did I want to watch porn today?’
5. Repent and live in forgiveness
As Christ-followers, sometimes at some point, you’re going to want to have a chat with The Big Guy Upstairs. No, not the old guy living in the apartment above yours- I’m talking about Jesus. Jesus offers boundless forgiveness and healing when you approach him. He died and rose again so you could live in a relationship with God and experience redemption. Keep coming back to him, not only to repent of sin and ask for forgiveness but help. Ask God to help you heal, to keep shame at bay, and make you wise. He’s always ready for you, and remember his forgiveness is trustworthy and complete. Your sin truly is wiped away forever. Go and sin no more.
6. Move on
Move from a place of darkness to a place of light- whatever that means for you. Change your physical and emotional location. It’s ideal to get outside in the sun and surround yourself with nature, but you can also move from a negative space to a positive one in different ways. You may want to call a friend, blast some music and have a boogie, hit the gym, take yourself to the kitchen to bake a cake or do some meal prep or head to a local shopping center, museum, or any place that brings you joy. The important thing is to step away from the screen and the place where you decided to watch porn and do something else.
7. Make up your mind to change
Take that power and do all the things that scare you. Get accountability in place, download filtering software, be radically vulnerable, and throw away all those things that trigger and hinder you.
Do what you know you need to do. Swap shame for courage. There’s often a lot of intense emotion after a porn lapse.
You need to throw your emotion into positive change rather than sitting in it and stewing. Use this to your advantage. Instead of internalizing all this emotion and shoving it deep down inside where it turns to rot, channel it into healing power.
Shame can ravage our bodies, minds, and spirit like we’re the city at the end of an Avengers movie.
8. Remember, recovery is a need.
Spend less time worrying about how you can fall again. You don’t lose everything you’ve worked so hard to gain you have just made a mistake. You really need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on running toward freedom and there is more in Jesus.
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