Am I Addicted to Pornography?

Am I Addicted to Pornography?

If you feel that you struggle with pornography addiction, you are not alone and there are several things that can be done to break the habit and find support.

What are the symptoms and why do they happen?

When someone is viewing pornography, there is a release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine that activates the body’s reaction to sexual pleasure. If pornography is viewed frequently, there is a continuous overstimulation of dopamine, and over time this has caused thousands of men to be unable to perform sexually with their partner. There are physical and psychological symptoms that occur as a result of decreased sensitivity from the overstimulation of dopamine. The physical symptoms include sexual dysfunctions that have become so widespread that there is now a specific type of erectile dysfunction called PIED, or porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Other physical symptoms include delayed ejaculation, meaning difficulty reaching climax with a partner, and fatigue. There are often psychological symptoms reported as well, like low self-esteem, lack of motivation, decreased libido, and a feeling described as “brain fog”.

What can be done?

In 2011, Alexander Rhodes created a website,, for those who are struggling with a pornography habit, and since has created a movement called “No Fap”. Fap is a term used frequently on the internet meaning masturbation. There are thousands who find support on this site where they can freely discuss their stories of sexual dysfunction and encourage each other to change their habits. The No Fap movement and website was created to help keep others accountable during the process of “rebooting”, where you no longer view pornography for the purpose of returning your body’s response dopamine, and therefore sexual arousal, back to normal. The only suggested guideline is to not view any artificial sexual stimulation. Those who have successfully stopped viewing pornography report that they noticed a decrease in social anxiety, an increase in confidence and energy, and found real partners exciting again.

If you are a parent of a teen, understand that many teens have access to pornography through their smart phones, and may be viewing it without understanding the consequences. A study completed in 2012 reported that 71% of teens have done something to hide what they do online from their parents. If you are concerned about your teen and struggle with talking to them about pornography, Clarity has a great resource for you. Transformed is our faith-based upper middle school to high school education program for teens and their parents that discusses pornography and many other helpful topics. Learn more about the program here.

How to Identify Someone Involved in Sex Trafficking

How to Identify Someone Involved in Sex Trafficking

Did you know January is Human Trafficking awareness month? Do you know some of the red-flag behaviors you should watch for regarding this illegal trade? Here are some things to look for to identify possible victims of sex trafficking:

  • excess cash, but no job
  • has expensive grooming habits with no job (hair professionally done, nails professionally done, expensive clothing, shoes, technology)
  • lack of stable housing
  • controlling dating partner
  • displays fear, depression, anxiety
  • change in normal behavior
  • substance abuse
  • low self-esteem, dating a very confident partner

It is not only strangers who solicit/recruit people into the sex-trafficking trade. Only 9% of sex traffickers are strangers to their victim. Immediate family members account for 36% sex traffickers and 27% sex traffickers are in a romantic relationship with the victim.

Some sex traffickers build relationship with, flatter and ask for explicit photos of their victims and then use those photos to blackmail the victim into acts of sex trafficking. This is just one of the many reasons why you should NEVER send explicit photos to anyone.

If you feel vulnerable to becoming a victim, or know someone who is, text BeFree (233733) or visit Polaris Project.

Managing the Stress Caused by Your Mess

Managing the Stress Caused by Your Mess

Have you ever been going through some major life drama and wondered how you could be expected to show up to work, a class, a family function or some other obligation? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could push the pause button on life’s demands in order to deal with your issues, drama, health concerns, etc.?

There is certainly an amount of emotional management which needs to be mastered in order to effectively perform commitments we often find ourselves needing to meet in life. There are four components which make up the concept of Emotional Intelligence.

  • Personal emotional awareness
  • Personal emotional management
  • Social emotional awareness
  • Social emotional management

Being aware of your emotions and learning to manage them is a key to success in life. Intentionally give a name to current emotions: Are you frustrated? Confused? Upset?  Once you have identified how you feel you can purposefully address this emotion. Why do you feel this way? Are you misunderstood, misguided, feeling deceived? What would need to happen in order for you to no longer feel this way? Focusing on solutions will help you manage your emotions and help you find peace surrounding the situations causing negative feelings.

Practically all of life’s most joyful and/or frustrated feelings are rooted in relationships. We were created to be in relationship with others. The last two components of Emotional Intelligence surround sensing how others feel and learning to build healthy relationships.

Being sensitive to how others are feeling is important. This requires empathy. Watch this great video to learn more about empathy.

Understanding other’s feelings and expressing our feelings to others in a healthy way gives us a solid foundation for healthy relationship building. Learning to work through difficulties with others is important to achieving contentment.

To learn more about Emotional Intelligence and how you can improve your Emotional Quotient (EQ) check out some of these resources:

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Three Silver Bullets to Increase Your E.Q. by Travis Bradberry

An Explanation of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman


Your Success Sequence

Your Success Sequence

Will you be voted most likely to succeed? Or are you struggling to get through daily tasks; getting to school, hanging out with friends, making good grades, graduating high school to move on to your future? Have you ever wondered why some people are successful in life, and some seem to struggle with each passing day? Many think that successful people had some natural ability in a certain area which brought them success. Or they were naturally smart because their goals came so easily to them. If you’re one who does not feel like you have any special talents, gifts, or abilities, it’s easy to feel discouraged and like you can’t be successful.

What if you knew about a sequence of steps that if followed, makes success almost fail proof? Statistics show that if you 1) Obtain your education- whether that be a high school degree, or further with a college degree and then 2) Get full-time employment and then 3) Wait until age 21 to marry before you have children, there is only a 2% chance you will live in poverty. (Poverty is not being able to take care of your family on your own without government assistance.) However, if you do not achieve these three norms in this order, there is a 76% chance you will live in poverty. Pretty staggering statistics.

This success sequence says nothing about being top in your class, or having some special talent or sporting ability. These steps are things each of us can attain. So, go to school and get that degree, find that full time employment, and then choose to marry your partner before starting a family.

Some of you reading this may have already done some of these steps out of sequence. You are not alone. Christy Shaw, Community Educator here at Clarity says of her experience, “I had a baby before the success sequence even started. Right before high school graduation. I know what it’s like to face obstacles of all kinds. But can I encourage you that you don’t have to be a statistic? There is hope in any situation. With the love and support of my family and friends, I was still able to finish my education, find employment, get married, and not live in poverty.”

With some help and determination, your story doesn’t have to be over because of one wrong turn. Sometimes those experiences can make us more determined to stay on the course needing completed so we can have successful futures.

3 Reasons to Say No to Porn

3 Reasons to Say No to Porn

Have you ever thought something would be a good idea, but eventually it turned out to harm you? That huge chocolate sundae sounded so good, but after you eat it all, you feel sick and your belly hurts. How about staying up late to binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. Sounds fun, right? But after a late night, you wake up tired the next day and can’t get motivated to do what’s on your schedule.

Here’s the point. Some things in life can be enticing and even seem harmless to us. But the reality is—that’s just not the case. Pornography is one such thing. Studies show it is addictive and the effects of it can be damaging to our brains, relationships, and our behaviors. It’s not a harmless pastime as many think.

Here are three reasons why you should consider saying no to porn.

  • It teaches the brain that sex is all about you.

Talk about affecting relationships. Sex is not a spectator sport, but porn sure can be. Viewed alone it trains the brain that sex is about the person viewing. Many times masturbation is involved. A healthy sexual relationship is between two committed people in marriage. One where an individual is concerned with the other persons’ needs and pleasure, not about the pleasure they can get for themselves.

  • It trains the brain that one person will never satisfy.

Pornography encourages the multiplicity of partners. What watching porn does is reminds a person of all of the potential sexual partners there are out there, which lowers the dedication a person has to the person they are involved with. It can also encourage a person to fantasize about someone they are not in bed with, and probably never will be. There have been studies done on porn consumption in relationships, and it was found that porn consumption lowered commitment in both men and women, but more so in men. (See Pyschology Today)

  • It sets a future spouse up for failure.

A person who has viewed porn may have preconceived notions about what sex should be like. If a spouse does not meet these expectations, problems could occur with their intimacy. A healthy, intimate sexual relationship should be exclusive between two people and about experiencing and discovering things with each other.

How do you protect yourself from pornography’s negative effects when it seems to be readily available everywhere? Take away the temptations as much as possible. Don’t use your computer in your room alone with your door shut. It’s too tempting. Don’t keep your smart phone in your room with you all night. It’s too tempting. When someone presents inappropriate material to you, say no thanks, I’m not into that. Guard the purity of your mind. You’re worth it, your health is worth it, and your relationships are worth it.

PUREly Great Dates

PUREly Great Dates

Dating can be fun AND romantic without being sexual. Yes, you read that right! Its counter cultural to describe anything as romance without the word sexy thrown in there somewhere but many young couples are finding that with determination and a little creativity there’s plenty of fun to be had. The following are some ideas beyond the obvious to get you started. Some dates cost more than others, but there is something to fit every budget.

Now, one disclaimer before we get started, most of these are going to include at least one other couple or a couple of friends to pull off. There really is safety in numbers. But don’t worry, they each include time for just the two of you – just in public places.

The Goodwill date $$$ (depending on dinner location)

Two couples meet or drive to the local thrift shop. Each couple has twenty bucks to spend to purchase outfits for the other couple they must then wear to go out to eat. Adds a little twist to the traditional dinner date.

Baseball fans $$- $$$

Tickets to his favorite team’s game or even just the local farm team can be a great date. Pretzels, Hotdogs, Cotton candy, ice cream and doing the chicken dance…for most that is a recipe for a good time. However, the season is short and you can’t always fork over the change for tickets but you can do the next best thing; weather permitting. This one requires a little packing and planning but it’s worth the effort. Throw some hotdogs and sodas in a cooler and pack a picnic basket full of all the fixings plus some charcoal and your favorite teams blanket and head on over to the local batting cages. After an intense death match, either grill the hotdogs on a park grill if available or bring along a small portable grill and roast away. Enjoy a picnic, maybe some Frisbee, play some tunes on Pandora and lie on your backs and guess what the clouds shapes are or dream about the future.

Scavenger Hunt $

You and your date and either another couple or two OR a group of friends divide into two or more teams. Each team is given a paper and pencil and devises a list of ten photos for the other team to take. Make this a central location within walking distance of an ice cream parlor. The last team to collect their pictures and arrive at the ice cream parlor buys the winner ice cream.

Others $- $$$

In the summer there’s lots to do that will keep you both focused, busy and enjoying each other’s company without any pressure by remaining outdoors and in public spaces. Putt-putt, fishing, canoeing or kayaking, longboarding, swimming, hiking a trail or bicycle riding (check into if your city has a rental bike program, those can be fun and take you for a tour of local attractions). If the temperatures dip or it’s raining, there’s still plenty to do indoors like a good ole movie, laser tag, bowling, ice skating, roller-skating, or Sky zone (trampoline park).Try your hand at pottery painting or visit a museum. Maybe learn something new and enroll in a class together like painting, ballroom dancing, or cooking. The point is to spend time getting to know each other- true intimacy is really pronounced “in -to- me -see”. See past the physical and get to know the real person inside.