Why Vulnerability Kicks Self-Discipline’s Ass

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Why Vulnerability Kicks Self-Discipline’s Ass

“I just need more self-discipline”, is comment I’ve heard from other guys struggling with a porn addiction.  I get where they are coming from, I think.  They realize they have not put enough effort into the sobriety they want.  It may be a longing to overcome an addiction that seems to have unbeatable control over their lives.

Especially, when they have been able to beat other addictions in the past.

I’ve spoken with ex-smokers, drinkers, and druggers who say porn is much more difficult to overcome.  They express a certain amount of shock or despair that it is not going away like their other problems did.  I think there are several reasons for the lack of progress, but is it really self-discipline?


Self-disciple describes a person’s determination toward a goal that allows them to overcome any pain holding them back.  Losing weight, working out, getting a black belt, waiting for the fish to bite while enduring the mosquitoes are examples of self-discipline.  Honestly, these are situations where the desired outcome has overwhelmed the cost of achievement.  When you want the goal more than the effort to attain it, it happens naturally.

So, don’t you want to be free from porn more than you want to stay addicted?


Maybe, the goal is not very well defined for you.  What if the porn is simply an outlet?  Is porn use hiding some other area of your life that feels out-of-control?


So, if porn is only a pain-killer.  You need to identify the pain.

Things get scary from here.

You have to look the painful stuff in your life, things we as men are not supposed to have.

I heard helpful things like “walk it off” or “breathe through the pain” or “I’ll give you something to cry about” when I got hurt.

My thinking was: “If I feel pain, I’m not invulnerable anymore.  I can’t let others know about this.  I have to keep my weakness covered so no one can get to me.”

I covered my hurts.  I showed everyone my brave face, while I was crying inside.

I was afraid.

Afraid of failing at a new job, of raising my child wrong, of meeting my wife’s needs, of … stuff!

I turned to porn to soothe all of those negative feelings.

Mano a Mano (hand to hand, literally)

OK, if self-discipline is about pushing through the pain, and porn is about soothing the pain I don’t want to deal with … how will self-discipline help?

If I “don’t” have pain, then more discipline has nothing to push me through.  Weird.

I protected my vulnerabilities to the point that nothing else was going to help.  As long as the pain existed, I would be looking for a way to medicate it.  Porn was one outlet.

So, how did I get free of porn?  Instead of trying to eliminate the vulnerability, I owned it.  I shared it with other people, making me even more exposed.  But, I picked the right people to share with and got the support I needed to work through the pain.

As long as I am alive, I will be vulnerable.  Whether I want to admit it or not is up to me.

So what should you do?

Suck it up, cupcake (yes, I realize the irony).  Deal with the pain.  Really deal with it.  Share it with someone.  Like THE ONE in your life.  Real relationship starts at the point of open vulnerability with someone else.  Letting someone into the inner sanctum is the only way to connect with them. And is so much more satisfying than the fantasy of porn.