Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in a number of different discussions and communities focused on the subject of quitting pornography. One of the most common themes I’ve found is a sense of hopelessness after repeated failures. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen messages like:

“I can’t do this.”

“I’m out of control.”

“I’m too far gone.”

From an emotional standpoint, it sucks to be in this kind of mood. Hopelessness is one of the most negative states of mind one can experience. But it’s consequences extend far beyond how you feel.

On one hand, it’s good when someone takes this fight seriously enough to become emotionally invested in the outcome. Disappointment, sadness, and—in my opinion—even anger, are sometimes appropriate as immediate, short-term responses to a lost battle. But hopelessness is not.

Hopelessness is in an entirely different category. Hopelessness doesn’t just make you feel bad; it disarms you. More than any other feeling, it destroys the will to get back up and keep fighting.

To be absolutely clear: hopelessness is not merely undesirable. It is your mortal enemy. It is one the most dangerous mindframes you can possibly fall into. One of the necessary ingredients for success in this battle is the kind of indomitable will that keeps you fighting no matter what. The drive to get up and go again when you’re at your wits’ end and victory seems almost unimaginable.

Your enemy is relentless. You must be more so.

And therefore you must completely reject feelings of hopelessness whenever they try to creep up.

Buick 3300 Engine Rebuild In Progress
The “hopeless” engine in my car, as of November 2014. I refused to give up on it, and now it’s my daily driver.

I had a series of relapses during 2017, after my nearly-two-year clean streak (during which I thought I had finally quit porn for good). This was enormously discouraging. These battles were vastly different than the ones I was used to, and I was having very little success in getting back on track.

I had no idea how I was going to win. Hopelessness began its grumbling.

At this point I had a choice. I could choose to hear out the arguments put forth by Hopelessness. I could settle for doing the best I knew how while ignoring the rest, consoling myself with the idea that there was nothing I could do to win completely. After all, I had tried everything I knew. And besides, I was still doing better than most people, right?

That would be a reasonable, level-headed choice.

But it would also be a loser’s choice. Fortunately, there is an alternative.

Hopelessness has an arch-rival named stubbornness. Or bull-headedness. Or steadfastness. Whatever you want to call it.

Previously in one of my YouTube videos, I had talked about using stubbornness as an attitude for resisting individual temptations. Now I used it in a different context. I stubbornly refused to accept hopelessness. I decided that no matter what, I would win. I still didn’t know how I was going to do it. But I refused to even entertain the idea that I would not emerge victorious. I chose this mindset and stuck with it from then on.

I failed many times after that. Sometimes I became discouraged again and Hopelessness would try to stick its foot in the door, but I continued to reject it. All the while, I kept on analyzing the battles, adjusting my strategy, and growing in my mindset and discipline.

And sure enough, I eventually got completely back on track.

That stubborn, indomitable fighting spirit is crucial to victory. There is no chance in hell that I would have won if I had listened to Hopelessness.

And there is no chance in hell that you will win either, unless you completely kick hopelessness out of your mind, and determine that you will keep learning, growing, and fighting until you are victorious.

Go get it.

-Ezekiel

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
– James 1:2-4 (ESV)

 

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