Probably the most important mental preparation you can do to stay mo­tivated to successfully break free of the porn trap is to take full respon­sibility for your own recovery. It’s very difficult to stay motivated if you believe you are quitting for someone else, or because you’ve been pres­sured into the decision and don’t feel you are in control of your choice. When this is the case, bitterness and resentment will come between you and success.

While other people can be important in providing encouragement and support, when it comes to breaking an emotional and physical at­tachment to porn, you need to make it happen yourself. Hank said, “One day, pornography is not gonna come up to you and say, Look, it’s okay if you don’t want to use me anymore. Change has to start from within. It’s up to you to make it happen. You have to tell yourself, I’m not gonna have to do this anymore. One day I will change to the point where I won’t ever use porn anymore.”

Taking responsibility involves developing new skills so that you can be your own coach, quarterback, referee, and cheering section for your recovery. You are in charge of coming up with the plan, executing the ma­neuvers, setting and following the rules, picking yourself up, and trying something new when you encounter setbacks, and rewarding yourself for your successes.

In order to become the leader of your own battle plan to quit porn, one of the best strategies is to start by making a list of successes you have had in overcoming other difficult challenges in your life. Everyone has encountered tough times, whether giving up a bad habit, dealing with a chronic illness or injury, or facing financial difficulties and other hardships. As a result, we all develop unique strategies that have a high likelihood of working for us when we have to tackle new problems. Some people talk things out with their friends or professionals, others prefer to handle a problem on their own. Some like to experiment with different approaches until something works, while others create a plan and stick to it no matter what. Simply reviewing your own successes can reassure you that, although change can be stressful and challenging, you have been successful at facing up to it in the past.

When Ethan decided to quit porn he was able to stay motivated by adopting a “fake it till you make it” approach that gave him a sense of ownership and control over his own recovery. He had used this kind of approach before in overcoming his addiction to marijuana. “I started out just staying away from porn for a while,” he said. “I acted as if I did want to quit rather than waiting to want to quit. This gave me the space I needed to find out for myself how much healthier I felt without it. You know, you don’t make a dog drop what’s in its teeth unless you can offer it something else. I don’t think I’m that different than a lot of other human beings. If someone tells me I should give up something because it’s bad for me, and I’m still really enjoying that thing, I’m not going to give it up. I need to experience for myself why I’ll be better off for giving it up. Giving up porn initially felt like a renunciation, but just by coaching myself to stick with it, within weeks I started feeling it was the right thing to do.”

Some people find that they can assume more responsibility for quit­ting porn simply by changing their mental “self-talk.” When they notice they are telling themselves things like, “I have to use porn,” “I have no control over it,” or “I’ll never make it,” they quickly counter the thoughts with more positive statements, such as, “I can do anything I set my mind to do,” “I know where to get the help I need,” or “I’ve made big changes in the past and I can do it again.”

The truth is you can’t climb uphill thinking downhill thoughts. As simple as it sounds, changing the words you repeat over and over to yourself every day can change how motivated you feel during your re­covery. Rob, whose porn addiction cost him his marriage, quit porn and turned his life around by continually reminding himself of his own inner goodness. “I have strong spiritual beliefs,” he said. “And one of those beliefs is that I am the loving child of a higher power that I call God. I am an expression of this energy and in that energy there is good and there is love and there is light. And because of this I can be a good person and have a good life free of porn.”

Whether through words, thoughts, or actions, the more you are able to take control of your own porn recovery, the more you will feel em­powered and in control of your life. “Porn recovery is not about having a simple formula for quitting porn,” said Nick, a former porn user and men’s group leader in his church. “It’s about making a commitment. You have to be determined and resolute, and take responsibility for yourself. You have to get clear on what you want and insist on right behavior for yourself. When you’re not committed, there’s nothing else in your mind to counter longings for porn. Being determined means at that very moment when you think about porn, you take control over your own experience and fight it.”

D

eveloping the ability to strengthen your motivation to quit porn through acknowledging porn’s problems, knowing what is most important to you, facing your fears, and taking responsibility for your re­covery is critically important to your future success. But it is also impor­tant to understand that you don’t have to be motivated at an extremely high level before you can take action steps to heal. Motivation grows and intensifies as you become more proactive in separating yourself from your porn behaviors. The recovery steps we present in the next chap­ter can help you move out of isolation, experience firsthand how much better it feels to be out from under porn’s stranglehold, and realize the satisfaction of being involved in new and healthier activities.

As you will see in upcoming chapters, healing results from a com­bination of changing your attitudes as well as changing your behaviors. Healthier attitudes and healthier behaviors reinforce each other. A posi­tive mental attitude helps you make important behavior changes and positive changes in behavior help you shift and develop better attitudes. Either way, the common denominator in porn recovery is the fact that the choice to change is yours alone. A proven process for quitting porn exists, but it’s up to you to decide when to engage it and get the ball rolling.

As Hank said so well, “If in your heart you want to quit porn, do it. By taking just the first step toward a porn-free life, you start the chain of events that will eventually allow you to quit for good. But it’s not gonna start unless you start it yourself.”