15 Coping Strategies to Help You Stay Porn-Free

So, you’ve made the courageous commitment to stop looking at porn. Congratulations! A very commendable and healthy life change. Then, reality hits. You find that just because you made a commitment, success is not guaranteed. In fact, you may even find that you are looking at porn more than ever! You feel like a failure and a disappointment. You tell yourself, “Why do I bother?” or “I can’t do this.”

The fact is, for most, stopping an addictive behavior, especially one as powerful as porn use is simply not a straight decision and action. Success requires strict behavior modifications, inner healing, and serious plans to do battle. After all, stopping porn use is really a form of doing battle. You are usually battling outside influences that trigger old internal emotional wounds which lead to poor behavior choices to cope with these unpleasant emotions. Even if your addiction isn’t a result of emotional coping, it is a behavior that has grown into an addiction that formed out of pure pleasure stimulus of the brain.

In the process of recovering from a porn addiction, addressing underlying behavioral and emotional issues is required.  Porn has become a coping mechanism for stress, unpleasant life situations, relationship troubles, job troubles, etc.

At Road to Purity, we offer numerous resources and direct help on porn recovery. One such area of help is what we call “Exit Strategies,” or what many call “Coping Mechanisms or Strategies.” Basically, it’s a method of changing direction when you feel you are tempted or going in the wrong direction. The key factor is when you feel tempted, ask, “What do I do?”

Below are 15 coping strategies to help you stay porn-free in moments of temptation:

1. Call someone.

If you have an ally, call them. If not, at least call someone! Even if you can’t share your battle with them, the act of re-directing your behavior to a different action is the goal. Speaking to a friend, relative, etc. will serve to take your mind off your current trajectory and may even lift your spirits to help you out of the slump that was leading you to porn.

Remember, the battle of two against Satan is more powerful than one.

2. Read or recite Scripture verses for battle.

Find a few scripture verses that speak to you and refer to them. A few ideas are below. You can also check out Road to Purity’s Recovery Resources tab, where we have over 100 scriptures specifically related to sexuality.

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.”—Psalms 101:3

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and steadfast spirit within me.”—Psalm 51:10

“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”—1 Corinthian 10:13

3. Put Post-it Notes in your car and around your home.

Write Bible verses, empowering statements, etc. on Post-it Notes and place them on bathroom mirrors, your computer screen, refrigerator, etc.

4. Set automated reminders.

Daily, or even several times per day, create an automated reminder on your phone or computer. This is great way to keep you focused. Maybe have three different verses/statements that come up at different times.

5. Make one of these statements to yourself:

Say with definitive authority and out loud, if possible…

“Father, I abandon myself to Your hands—let Your will be done.”

“I will not give my power to that woman.”

“Satan, this conversation is over!” or “In Jesus’ name, this conversation is over!” (the conversation is relating to the tempting thoughts).

Related: How I Fight Porn Images in My Mind

6. Pray for the woman you are tempted to lust after.

When you catch yourself having sexual thoughts about someone, you are objectifying that person. Your brain is seeing that person as a “thing” that you can “take” and use for your own satisfaction. You may already know in your heart that this is wrong, but your past history of actions has caused you to allow yourself to indulge in these lustful thoughts. Even now that you know differently, it is hard to “just stop it.” Praying for the woman who triggered this reaction is one edifying way of responding to this temptation.

Here is a sample prayer in a situation where you find yourself triggered with lust, by a woman in some  manner.

“Lord, I ask You to change my thoughts I am having about this woman to thoughts that are respectful, loving, and complimentary. I ask Your forgiveness for my lust and objectification over this woman. Please help me to see her as You see her, to see her mind and her heart as the beautiful daughter of Your creation. Amen.”

Praying this way will interrupt your lustful thoughts and begin to put women in the perspective of “whole” people and beautiful creations of God.  

7. Practice selflessness.

As you now know, objectification of women is the practice of being a “Gift TO Self.” If you are being a “Gift OF Self,” it is nearly impossible to practice selfishness.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”—Mark 3:24

“If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?”—Matthew 12:26

To practice selflessness, do an act of kindness. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for the person you were objectifying. Just do something in general to change your focus to selflessness. Here are some examples:

  • Open the door for a stranger.
  • Anonymously pay for the coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.
  • Smile and be intentionally kind to a person serving you (cashier, teller, barista, coworker, waitress).
  • Do a task around the house for your spouse without being asked.
  • Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows or mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn.
  • Volunteer at the local mission.

8. Try the rubber band technique.

This is one way of retraining your brain and changing how to look at women. Place a rubber band on your wrist, and when you start to have sexually inappropriate thoughts, immediately snap the rubber band on the inside of your wrist. This will train your brain that sinful fantasy or objectification of women equals pain, rather than fantasy equals pleasure.

Our brains will instinctively avoid pain and, eventually, fantasy or lustful thoughts will be instinctively avoided.

9. Name the woman you are tempted by.

Give her a name (Jennifer, for example). Say out loud to yourself (not to her face), “Jennifer, you are someone’s daughter. Jennifer, you are someone’s sister.” This dignifies “Jennifer” as a human being and not an object, and it will help curb the lust.

10. Always look women in the eyes.

When you look a woman in her eyes, you see a person, not an object.

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?”—Job 31:1

Related: Behind Every Woman’s Body Is a Woman

11. Flee!

“She caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and ran outside.”—Genesis 39:12

12. Listen to Christian music.

Much of today’s secular music has lyrics that include lust, abuse our humanness, and train our thoughts to be directed to selfish choices. Christian music will redirect those thoughts and more properly align our perceptions toward God. This is the selfless versus selfish mindset.

13. Do a quick meditation.

If you have developed a meditation, take three to five seconds and go right to the heart of it. See the images; recall the peace you have when in your meditation. This will not only redirect your thoughts and attention, but it will also develop new brain patterns to redirect pleasure centers. Note: don’t do this while driving!

14. Pray!

Prayer is the most important coping strategy, in my opinion. When you are feeling tempted, I want to encourage you to actually have a conversation with Jesus. Talk to him like he’s sitting in front of you.

Even if you are frustrated or angry, yell at him! Yes, I am serious—you can yell at God. He can take it. When you express your anger, you are showing him your heart and your pain. He wants to see this so he can begin to heal it. No matter how mad you get at God, he will never turn his back on you.

After you talk, yell, cry, or whatever you are moved to do, be sure to end your time with several minutes of silence. Listen to your heart. He may speak to you or just bring peace over you. Some people hear him through inspirations or thoughts, and some hear words in their heart. Most just experience a sense of peace after expressing their heart. After all, the word “peace” appears over 400 times in the Bible. It’s a pretty strong and common message.

No matter how far from God you may feel, know that in truth, he is right by your side.

Know this as fact: Jesus is right with you, no matter what you have done or previously believed. He is right there waiting for you to let him shower you with his immense love.

15. Remind yourself of your motivations to stay pure.

Remind yourself why you are doing this and why sobriety is beneficial.

Remember, by working to break free from your sex and porn addiction, you can reap the following benefits:

  • Save your soul
  • Save your marriage or relationships
  • Heal past emotional wounds
  • Stop losing time in the activity, potentially increasing your income as a result
  • Reduce or eliminate anxiety
  • Avoid developing or stop existing erectile dysfunction
  • Become better able to deal with adversity of any type
  • Regain clarity of self and clarity of life’s purpose
  • Reduce or eliminate depression
  • Regain passion in life
  • Avoid sexually transmitted diseases
  • Regain natural sexual energy
  • Reset pleasure centers to properly enjoy life
  • Live without shame
  • Prevent social isolation
  • Be more productive at work, home, and in society
  • Reset your natural IQ and increase your learning potential
  • Live a life of integrity and honesty

Related: What Is Your Reason for Quitting Porn?

Above all, stay motivated!

Practice makes perfect. Football players don’t just get on the field and learn by playing. If they did, they would definitely lose and probably get seriously injured in the process. The same is true here. Every time you see a provocatively dressed woman, you know you shouldn’t lust, but you do. You might even go home and act out. You just lost this game because you were not in shape (emotionally) and physically (no exit strategy or coping mechanism).

Develop your exit strategy, ask your support person or accountability partner to drill you with scenarios where you play out what could happen during your addictive cycle. Practice these and refine your strategies. If something triggers you, have your partner on the phone or with you to work through it.

“The struggle is the sign of holiness. A Saint is a sinner that keeps trying.”—St. Josemaria Escrivá