What can I do to strengthen myself against future relapses?

    A relapse can be discouraging to us and damaging to our relationships, particularly as we strive to move forward. One way to gain strength and avoid relapses is by becoming accountable. Accountability begins with a commitment to be humble and honest with ourselves and others about our behaviors and emotions. Becoming accountable also includes admitting when we are wrong and accepting the consequences.

    As we seek to overcome pornography, we must be accountable to ourselves, God, and others in our lives. Many also find it helpful to have an accountability partner—someone of the same gender they can report their progress to.

    In the following video, people explain what accountability means to them and how becoming more accountable has been helpful.

    Being Accountable to Ourselves

    Accountability to ourselves means accepting and embracing responsibility for our thoughts, choices, needs, and behaviors. As we accept responsibility, we are better able to address the changes we need to make.

    For many individuals, progress becomes more apparent as we strive to take full responsibility for our choices. Casual commitments to changing our behavior don’t usually lead to significant growth. Our efforts to be accountable for our behavior also help strengthen our relationship with the Lord. He has promised, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Joshua 1:5).

    Overcoming our use of pornography means addressing the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors contributing to our problem, which is a process that happens over time. (See “How long does it take to get over pornography?”) We can become more accountable to ourselves each day by taking a daily self-evaluation. (See more about being accountable to ourselves in “Step 10: Daily Accountability.”) When we continually assess our progress, we can stay on the path toward change rather than slipping backward.

    Being Accountable to God

    God has given us life, the power to choose, and the ability to act for ourselves. He has also created each of us to be unique, with differing strengths and weaknesses. He loves us and wants us to use our agency to learn and grow. Rather than viewing accountability as a burden, we should seek to understand the areas where growth is needed as we strive to become like God. His purpose is that we might have joy in this life and return to His presence through the grace of His Son, Jesus Christ. Being accountable to God about our best efforts as well as our setbacks allows the Savior's grace to help us in our weaknesses, support us in our struggles, and strengthen us as we continue to seek to change.

    Enlisting the Help of Others

    Many have found it helpful to share their struggles regarding pornography with others. As we reach out to others, we should find people whom we trust and who love us and have our best interest in mind. Those who are strong in the gospel can provide support that leads in the direction we want to go. It also can be helpful to reach out to people we know well and we have shared experiences with. Others find it helpful to talk to people who are further along the path of successfully overcoming pornography themselves. If we’re reaching out to someone we’re not related to, it’s wise to reach out to someone of the same gender.

    We might consider enlisting friends, family members, support groups, mental health professionals, or Church leaders as people we can be accountable to. Some people find it beneficial to work with an experienced mentor who can help us stay focused on our goals. If we choose to do so, we should remember that we are responsible for the change we are making. We should also remember that having such people in our lives is just one piece of a complex puzzle of helpful things we need to include in our plan.

    As we turn to others for help, they can listen and offer us encouragement in moments of weakness. We can have routine check-ins with them to help us be accountable. When we have successes, they can celebrate with us. If they’ve had similar struggles, they can share their experiences with us. Support people can also remind us of our plans and the consequences, both positive and negative. Most importantly, as we turn to others, they can help us feel loved and supported.

    Ideas for Taking Action

    Here are some ideas that others have found helpful. Prayerfully consider what actions might be best for you, taking into account that they may or may not be listed here.

    • Consider whether talking with others about your struggle with pornography might strengthen you. If so, consider who you might reach out to. Church leaders, friends of the same gender, or family members are all individuals you might turn to.
    • Work on being honest with the people you love the most. Strengthening your relationships with important people in your life can help you feel genuine love and support.
    • Ponder how you might be more accountable to yourself. How can you evaluate yourself, your needs, and your actions each day?
    • Pray and talk to God about your struggles and your successes. Strive to be more accountable to God.
    • Consider attending a support group of others working to overcome pornography. Support meetings (both LDS-sponsored and community-sponsored) often provide encouragement in a group setting. Find an LDS support group here.