If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the porn addiction cycle. You’re feeling down. The urge to look at porn gradually comes over you. You resist. The urge gets stronger. Resistance requires more effort and becomes increasingly painful. You have a porn binge. Relief floods you—for a while. Then the guilt sets in. Why did you do that? You swore off the porn. You failed. You’re useless. A waste a space. You’re feeling down. The urge to look at porn… you get the picture.

This cycle is common to an entire family of shame-based issues, including binge drinking, over- or under-eating and self-harm. Only the delivery method differs. But let’s focus on porn. How do you get out of this vicious cycle?

Green-eyed monster

You’ve tried resistance, and we all know how far that got you. (No, it didn’t get me very far either.) You could try getting rid of your computer but that’s pretty much impossible in today’s so-called smart world. You could try porn-blocking software like Covenant Eyes. That blocks the porn—the only part of the cycle that brings you relief—but it doesn’t break the cycle. You’re left with a longing for the green-eyed monster of porn that you cannot satisfy and cannot escape.

To break the cycle, you need a change of perspective.

Society’s standard narrative is that pornography is bad. Very bad. Beyond bad. It’s all very well to bash people struggling with porn use, but it actually helps to perpetuate the cycle. So what would you rather do? Continue to beat yourself up for viewing porn or break the cycle by changing your perspective?

It’s all very well to bash people struggling with porn use, but it actually helps to perpetuate the cycle. So what would you rather do? Continue to beat yourself up for viewing porn or break the cycle by changing your perspective?

If you’re still with me, let’s shift to a radically different perspective.

The message

Your porn addiction is neither bad nor good. It’s a message from your unconscious. It is drawing your attention to a psychological imbalance that requires your attention. The message is this: stop being ashamed of your fundamental sexual nature.

Once you accept this premise, you can break the porn cycle because you no longer need to beat yourself up. Remove that component and the entire cycle collapses. Instead you can learn about the invisible, unconscious sexual shame that pervades our society and drives millions of men to porn. Accept your natural sexuality and it will express itself in natural, consensual, nurturing ways.

In my four-part series The mechanics of porn addiction you’ll find a lot more detail on how the porn cycle actually works. The most important thing is to recognise the process as a message that is trying to guide you to wholeness. The way to achieve that is through recognising and releasing shame. Bring it into your awareness, take a deep breath, then let it go. Over and over.

If you need help, get in touch.

Image: 2005 March James Portrait by Jens Karlsson on Flickr. Cropped to 16:9.