I long ago stopped making New Year’s resolutions. My resolve never held for long. A good deal of it is attributable to insufficient willpower, but there’s something in the very nature of these resolutions that undermines the intentions behind them. Nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. 88% of them go unfulfilled. The director of behavioral health and wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, Dr. Coral Arvon, distinguishes between making resolutions and changing habits. Luke Gilkerson from Covenant Eyes provides six insights from behavioral science and the Bible on how to succeed in breaking free from porn in 2017.
1. “Start with small, measurable goals”
Dr. Arvon says, “To successfully achieve these resolutions, understanding that small, short-term goals are the most effective and taking resolutions one step at a time is the best way to succeed.” Jesus said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (Lk 14:28-30).
2. “Focus on the rewards”
Dr. Richard Wiseman discovered that a distinguishing characteristic of the 10% of people who kept their New Year’s resolutions was that they were keenly aware of the desired benefits of their new habits. Scripture is replete with promises for those who seek sexual purity (i.e. 1 Thess 4:3; Phil 4:8-9; Gal 5:13; Eph 5:8-9).
3. “Establish built-in reminders”
“Set your smartphone calendar to give you positive messages or reminders about your goals a few times per day,” suggests Dr. Arvon.
4. “Be accountable for your goals”
Dr. Wiseman observed that those who stuck to their resolutions told others about them, creating a support network and providing an incentive not to fail.
5. “Have the right attitude about slips”
“Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether,” Dr. Wiseman advises. Dr. Mark Laaser notes that SLIP “is an acronym for ‘Short Lapse In Progress.’”
6. “Fight from a new identity”
“False hope syndrome” is psychology professor Peter Herman’s term for expectations that are undermined by the conviction that they are unrealistic or incongruent with one’s makeup. According to Christian counselor Brad Hambrick, we are simultaneously sinners, sufferers, and saints. We know well about sin and suffering. But as saints, we are empowered by the Spirit of the Risen Christ who can do all things. It is in this reality that we locate our identity.
May we strengthen our resolve in this new year to resist the lure of pornography.
(Source: Luke Gilkerson, “Why Your Resolution to Quit Porn Will Fail Miserably (and how to succeed instead)”)