As we seek to make changes, it can be helpful to evaluate the severity of our pornography use, identify triggers that lead us to pornography, and discover influences that may be affecting our behavior.
Evaluating Pornography Use
A good first step is evaluating the extent of our pornography problem. When we are honest and realistic about how long we've been using, how often we use, and the unhealthy results of our use, we can determine the best ways to move forward. We should be cautious about placing labels on ourselves because of our behaviors. (For more information about evaluating your use, see “How can I tell if I am addicted?”)
If we’ve been struggling with pornography use for a long time, using it often, or using more intense material, this may be due to biological, psychological, social, and spiritual influences. Identifying these influences may take time, patience, and effort, but understanding them can help us change.
Biological influences take place in the body, especially in the brain, and may include things like:
- Natural biological drive
- Brain chemistry
- Physical health
Health practitioners, both traditional and nontraditional, can be good sources of information and help. Many mental health professionals encourage their patients to disclose their problems and concerns to a medical doctor and get a complete medical exam. A medical doctor may be able to help us identify biological needs we should address, which can help us overcome this challenge.
The following video teaches more about biological influences.
Psychological influences affect how we think about and view the world, including how pornography affects us. Psychological influences may include things like:
- Post-traumatic stress
- Difficult life experiences
- Mental health issues (such as anxiety or depression)
- Attitudes and moral beliefs about sexual information
- Normal developmental curiosity
- Body image
- Overall self-esteem
- Emotional well-being (such as stress or sense of security)
It may not be obvious to us how our psychological influences affect our pornography use. It can take some work to understand these influences.
It may be helpful to seek advice from mental health providers, family members, and friends. It's important to find a mental health professional who is right for us and provides a sense of connection. (See “How do I find a mental health professional who is right for me?”)
We might also consider books, credible websites, and other resources focused on decision-making and behavior. (See “Outside Resources.”) Be thorough and prayerful in identifying the best help.
The following video teaches more about psychological influences.
Social influences affect how we relate to and interact with others. These influences may include things like:
- Social and cultural beliefs regarding healthy sexuality
- Relationships with friends and family
- Social support system
- Social and cultural environment
As we seek out and establish healthy social relationships, we can gain strength and courage to change. Everything we experience in daily life and what we learn from peers, our parents, music, TV, and other media can positively or negatively impact our ability to resist pornography. We can evaluate our daily routine, the people we spend time with, and the way we interact with our social world and then identify what changes we may need to make.
The following video teaches more about social influences.
Spiritual influences include how we see and understand ourselves, others, and the world in relation to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Some examples of spiritual influences include:
- Our concept and understanding of God
- Our relationship with and our feelings about God and Jesus Christ
- Our past spiritual experiences with feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost
- Our testimony of the Savior and our understanding of His Atonement
A fundamental belief that can help us turn away from pornography is believing and accepting that God has the power to strengthen us and help us change. God’s laws lead us to true and lasting happiness. Often, feelings of shame can separate us from the love of God. As we learn to trust in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we can view our mistakes as opportunities to learn, grow, and show God our commitment to keep trying.
The following video teaches more about spiritual influences.
Asking ourselves questions about why we use pornography can help us identify and understand our biological, psychological, social, and spiritual influences. Assessing our influences, studying out possible solutions in our minds, and turning faithfully to Heavenly Father in prayer can help us find the answers we need to make progress and find success.
Ideas for Taking Action
- Take a personal inventory of your influences. Consider the reasons you use pornography and determine whether they are biological, psychological, social, spiritual, or a combination of these factors. How might you address your influences? (See “Step 4: Truth” from the Addiction Recovery Program for more information on taking a personal inventory.)
- Establish a clear definition of healthy sexuality and morally acceptable behavior.
- Discuss healthy sexual behavior with your spouse, parents, or an appropriate support person. It may also be helpful to talk with a mental health or medical professional who shares your values. It may also be beneficial to identify literature in line with Church teachings that defines appropriate sexual expression.
- If you’re married, work to understand what your spouse is experiencing as a result of your pornography use. It can be important for your spouse to understand how his or her own needs and influences are impacting his or her emotional response. With your spouse, read and discuss “How Can I Take Care of My Needs?” from the Spouses section of the website.
- Recognize that viewing pornography takes time away from healthy activities. What are healthier ways to use your time? Consider finding new activities to engage in. Some people find that exercising, connecting with others, offering simple acts of service, or learning something new can be helpful. Prepare your own list of alternative activities.
- Learn more about how to develop a plan to address your individual biological, psychological, social, and spiritual influences. (See “What do I need to focus on to overcome my pornography habit?”)
- Consider how attending a support group may strengthen you socially. The Church holds support groups for those struggling with pornography through the Addiction Recovery Program. Find a meeting here.