How to Overcome Porn Addiction/ Guide to Sexual  Triggers and Watching Porn

Couple outdoors

We all get sexually triggered, but that’s not the real problem behind your porn addiction. The real problem is that very few men know why they’re being triggered and how to deal with the root issue. This makes it hard to respond to triggers and regulate yourself, which then makes it feel impossible to quit porn. 

In this article, I’m going to cover: 

● Understanding your sexual triggers leading to porn addiction 

● Handling your porn addiction sexual triggers

● Overcoming your porn addiction sexual triggers 

● 3 ways to take action and stop porn addiction when triggered 

Before all that, though, let’s discuss what porn addiction is.

What is porn addiction?

According to Medical News Today, porn addiction refers to a person becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to the point that it interferes with their daily life, relationships, and ability to function. 

An addiction to porn has 3 characteristics (and this goes for any addiction) 

1. You have tried to quit porn but can’t seem to give it up 

2. You know the negative consequences and that addiction to porn destroys sexual health, but continue to consume and abuse it 

3. You have adjusted your lifestyle to make time and space to watch porn

1. Understanding your sexual triggers: Why do they happen 

When we wander through life unsure of the “why” behind it all, we can feel lost and out of control. Does that resonate with you and your porn addiction? Does that resonate with you and how you feel about your triggers? For men who can’t seem to stop watching porn, their sensitivity to triggers can be enhanced simply because their brain is constantly overloaded with sexual imagery and thoughts. This is a really hard place to be! It makes them seem involuntary, without cause, and uncontrollable. However, I want to tell you that they are not random, not beyond you, and most definitely not out of your control. Let’s talk about that more: 

Our brain and triggers 

The brain is really powerful, especially when it comes to how it gets affected by watching porn. One of its main roles and reasons it’s so powerful is that it stores information about past events. This is really cool, but also really unpleasant when we are reminded of something that caused us pain or pleasure and we get triggered. This happens when something in the present feels similar or the same as what your brain remembers about the past event. It’s this idea of “what you feel vs. what is real”. This is so easy to miss and misunderstand. Without this knowledge, you can feel like your addiction to watching porn is an unending life sentence. 

Past events colliding with current events lead to being sexually triggered 

As I mentioned already, we can get triggered when something in the present feels like something that happened in the past. There’s often a  desire to repeat or reverse a past event because we‘re drawn to what is familiar or we’re drawn to doing the complete opposite of what happened to us. This is so important to know because repeating or reversal ideas will give you a direct insight into the types of porn you watch and what you’re triggered by and why. 

Sexual triggers are instigated by an insecurity that has become sexualized. 

It’s always shocking to the men I work with when they learn that their sexual triggers are deeply emotional. One of the examples I like to give is when a man is at the beach. He may be sexually triggered by what is around  him, but deep down, he is emotionally triggered by the wonders of “does  she see me?”; “would she like me?”; “What would it be like to be with her?”  and so on. Yes, there is a sexual trigger, but our sexuality is so tied to our emotions. This often happens when emotions were felt, and instead of learning to process and regulate, watching porn became the way to cope.  This then causes your brain to associate an emotion with watching porn. Do you see how this trigger becomes so powerful? 

Men long to be seen, wanted, accepted, desired, affirmed, validated, and so on. It’s these longings that can be hijacked by watching porn, making them easily triggered by what seems predominantly sexual. 

2. Handling your sexual triggers – What to do when you get triggered 

There’s a famous quote that says “Name it to tame it”. This is really helpful for us to understand that the very act of naming something diminishes its power. What if you began to name the trigger, not from a sexual standpoint,  but from an emotional standpoint? Now that you know why you get triggered, you have the knowledge to name the deeper reason and take action. I love this approach because it takes the focus off of your porn addiction and what others are doing/wearing, and puts the emphasis on you, meaning, you have a level of control over this, and that’s empowering! 

If you’re not too sure of whether or not you’re addicted, I’ve broken down the 10 top signs you might have porn addiction here.

Your triggers are prophets 

When you get triggered your nervous system goes into fight or flight mode.  This is a really tough place to be in! It often sideswipes you when you’re least aware. However, becoming aware and pinpointing the things that trigger you to go into flight or flight, and then naming the things that would you bring you back to a place of safety and calm is extremely powerful. You can choose to see your triggers as a curse, or as an opportunity.  

I like to see them as “prophets” trying to tell you something about your heart and mind. They often tell great stories as to where you have insecurities, lacks, and voids in your life. Ultimately, watching porn is just an “advil” to a deeper problem. Let your triggers begin to tell you more about what the true problem is. 

A group of statues depicting old time prophets or old time wise men
Triggers act as “prophets” trying to tell you something about your heart and mind

3 ways to take action when sexually triggered: Start asking yourself great questions 

Pinpointing what emotionally and sexually sets you off/turns you on 

Some simple ones to try are: “why am I triggered right now”; “What am I  feeling insecure about right now?”; “What is this trying to tell me about  myself?”; “Am I feeling unsafe right now?”

Practice Deep Breathing 

You have to breathe already, might as well have it work for you! When we deep breathe, we’re reactivating the part of our brain that makes good decisions. When triggered, that’s really important to be able to do. This is truly a life hack for men who can’t stop watching porn. It calms them down  and helps them regulate in a short period of time 

Rationalize the triggering situation: 

When you can speak out about what is truly going on, you will begin to reclaim the power the trigger once had. When this happens, you will find yourself regaining control and restoring some levels of confidence. When this begins to happen for a man who has been controlled by sexual triggers for a long time, it’s so enlightening! (works for women too!) 

Here are a few ways you can speak out and rationalize what’s going on and  reclaim power over your triggers 

“This is happening right now because I feel ____” (driving emotion) 

“She is really attractive and that makes me wonder if she notices me”  (Insecurity) 

“This situation is hard for me because I feel ___ and feel as if I need ___  but am empty in that area after this past week” (compassion rather than  shame) 

This approach takes into account the full picture of your sexual triggers and makes it feel like you have a grasp on what’s going on, even if you don’t deal with it perfectly. You will build momentum each time you do it and feel empowered rather than the typical feelings of shame when you get stuck in confusion. 

Getting expert help can be the deciding factor between those who find freedom from porn and those who continue to struggle. Check out our porn recovery coaching page to learn more about our services.

3. How to overcome your sexual triggers: Developing  confidence to move through triggers 

Pinpointing what emotionally and sexually sets you off/turns you on 

One of the best ways to help see this clearly is to ask yourself “What causes  me to react with a level 8 reaction when the situation is only a level 2 or 3?”  When we begin to pinpoint the areas we overreact or even over-sexualize things, we can begin to see that that’s an area that needs attention. Now that you have learned the why and the what, it’s time to understand how to keep the momentum going and move through triggers so you move into sobriety and ultimately, freedom from watching porn. 

Here is the equation: Awareness of the trigger + understanding why it  happens = The ability to respond with proactive and healthy choices 

Define what you really need in moments of emotional and sexual triggers 

You have likely watched porn for so long that it’s the first viable option when you have emotional, physical, and spiritual voids in your life. When your needs go unmet, a void is created and these voids ache until filled. The big question in those times is this, do you grab an Advil, or do you deal with the root of the issue? An advil would be watching porn, masturbating,  scrolling social media, eating a tub of ice cream, etc.  

Getting to the root of the issue is asking yourself, “What do I really need right now?”; “What would make me feel safe right now?”; Who can I  connect with right now?”. Humans have an inherent desire to feel loved,  connected, intimate, seen, wanted, and much more. When those beautiful needs go unmet (in healthy ways), we search for something that will fill us up. Sadly, watching porn is a quick fix that brings zero long-term relief. A  great way to get long-term relief would be to seek freedom from porn, not  just recovery

Develop a self-talk routine when you feel sexually triggered 

Self-talk is a great way to engage our reality. It’s best done after deep breathing, so don’t skip that step! Another form of this can be prayer (My personal favorite).  When you feel the desire to watch porn and go through the steps to understand what’s happening and why it’s happening, it then comes time to renew your mind.

A man holding his hands in prayer. One of the best ways to overcome pornography
Connecting with God through prayer is a great solution to overcoming pornography when sexually triggered

Self-talk can be an amazing way to do that because it retrains your mind to hear positive and Godly things in moments of sexual triggers rather than unhelpful and sinful things. This is truly about renewing the mind, which is very biblical and crucial to our healing. 

Self-talk example: Hey Shawn, it’s ok to be triggered right now. This is not so much about the attractive women over there, but more about how you’re tired and feeling disconnected from your friends and family. I know you feel sad, and that’s ok. What you really need right now is a time to connect with someone, take a hot bath, and get a good night’s rest. You got this man! 

This step is often the hardest for men to walk out. If you need some help  overcoming barriers keeping you from living in freedom from porn, check  out our porn addiction help page for more information 

In conclusion, overcoming porn addiction is possible. 

You now know the truth behind your sexual triggers and how to deal with them moving forward. I hope you have been able to go from “I can’t stop watching porn” to “wow, I actually can overcome porn addiction” because I  know you can! It takes time, effort, and guidance to work through these steps, but they’re available and possible for anyone and everyone. The next time you get sexually triggered, I want you to stop and reflect on what triggered you, why it triggered you, and what healthy action step you can take that was listed above in this article. I am certain this approach will revolutionize the way you see triggers moving forward. May you be blessed by what was shared and may you be empowered to apply it. 

Shawn Bonneteau

Shawn Bonneteau

Author of this Article

Shawn is the co-founder of Secret Habit. He loves to write, speak and coach men. He has a story of addiction to porn and masturbation, as well as a struggle with Erectile Dysfunction that haunted him for many years into his marriage. He feels called to use his story to bring hope and healing to those stuck in sexual bondage.

Related Articles

freedom from pornography results

Looking For FREE Support?

Start Here

Join The Secret Habit CommunityA safe space for Christian men to heal from porn addiction and other unwanted sexual behaviours.

Expert Insight from Shawn and other Moderators

A Safe Space To Share Your Struggles, Wins and Questions With Like-Minded Men

No Ads or Distractions When Using The Community

You can unsubscribe at any time.

men looking ahead porn addiction withdrawal symptoms

Porn Withdrawal Survival Guide

Stop guessing what to do!

Grab this free e-book and learn:

how to overrule your brain

daily action steps for true sobriety

how to dismantle shame and live in freedom

 

Success! Check your inbox to grab your free E Book