When you ask someone who struggles with pornography what they were feeling before they decided to act out, many people would respond “I was bored.”
Boredom is usually the birthing chamber of addictive tendencies and lifestyles. Boredom walks hand-in-hand with alone time. Typically, the two hang out together and show up at the same time in our day. Together they are two of the main causes of crisis and crash-and-burns more than anything else.
This was a large part of my story. I often found myself bored and unable to sleep late at night. Whether I was cruising social media, or wasting time on YouTube, this boredom would push me further into my addiction. I never knew why I couldn’t seem to shake my addiction. Over time, after identifying that boredom was an issue, I figured that just knowing this fact would solve the problem.
I was way wrong!
So, what was it that I needed? Through spending time with friends and hearing their wisdom, I figured out that I needed a plan. And not just any plan—I needed a plan that was scheduled out and prepared way before boredom and alone time had the chance to team up against me.
Here are three things I’ve learned to implement into my scheduled plan:
The main time of the day that boredom would find me was when I was home alone. This was a time I treasured: time to just chill out and play video games, or watch Netflix, and always pig out on junk food. But these times crept up on me and I struggled to maintain any sexual integrity when I was home alone.
So, what worked for me was to look at my schedule for the upcoming week and find the times where I would be alone at home. I’d check with my wife, see when I knew the house would be empty, and identify those times with my group members and my wife.
But, just telling others about those times wasn’t enough. I also needed to make a plan for those times. Friday was usually the day I had the house to myself. This was my day off from work at the church and my wife was working. I knew it would be a lazy day: one that would bring many different opportunities for boredom and temptation. So, I decided to start going to see a movie by myself every Friday. This allowed me to sleep in, get a good breakfast, and then go see the earliest showing of a movie. I was able to plan and look forward to something on my day off. It also gave me time away from the house, in public, where boredom couldn’t push me into any sexual struggles. I identified and planned for my alone times.
Cell phone scrolling is often the front porch to sexually acting out. If we spend enough time on the front porch, smelling the good food and hearing the laughter of old friends, the comfort of sitting in our addiction calls out to us and welcomes us in. In the same way, if unaddressed, mindless scrolling and wandering on our phone can initiate the spark that blows up our sexual integrity.
The opposite of being mindless is being intentional. If we find ourselves on our phone more during alone time or when boredom hits, this needs to be the most important area to address when battling for sexual integrity. We need to intentionally look at our alone time and have a plan beforehand if we want to use our phone as the agent of good in our life instead of the agent of addiction.
Not only having a plan of attack when alone time or boredom are in your future, but also being courageous enough to remove any potential roadblocks will be the key to maintaining sexual integrity. For me, this meant getting rid of Twitter on my phone. Every time I would get on Twitter, I ended up in the place I never wanted to go. Even more recently, I’ve learned that I need to avoid the search function in the app. If I know these are issues for me and I remove the roadblocks, when I find alone time or boredom creeping up on me, I’ve got a plan for success already in place.
Not only is it important to identify and plan for your alone time, it’s also important to find healthy and helpful ways to use that time. It would be counterproductive to use your alone time to go see a movie with explicit content that will only push you into an unhealthy frame of mind. But, finding activities that push you toward community or into deep self-awareness is very important.
Maybe this looks like listening to podcasts or sermons from church. Maybe this looks like going for a walk or a bike ride around town to clear your head. Or maybe it looks like exercising or some other form of self-care. Regardless of what you do, if you reclaim your alone time for your own benefit, you and the others in your life will thank you down the road.
Okay, so do we just avoid or demonize alone time or boredom? No, of course not. These are not sinful in and of themselves. But, they can’t be the parts of our life that we roam into mindlessly. We need to be aware and alert when facing times where boredom and alone time could become roadblocks to our healing. Being on top of our schedule in a way that sets us up for future health and success is always the best idea moving forward.
So, schedule in your sobriety by being intentional and mindful of where the pitfalls are in your time. You’ll never regret it!
Trevor is the Marketing & Communications Director at Pure Desire Ministries. He has been in ministry leadership for 8 years in the areas of Worship and Student Ministries. Trevor has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and is passionate about people understanding that sexual and emotional health is possible.