Identifying and Facing Your Fears

on Thursday, 10 September 2015. Posted in 12 Step Attitude

Fear is a common emotion that arises when someone tries to quit an addiction. When left unaddressed, it can sabotage your recovery efforts by increasing ambivalence and continually undermining your motivation. Like a nail you are unaware of in one of your car's tires, an unidentified and unaddressed fear can slow your healing journey down without your even realizing what is happening.

The idea of making any kind of major life change and facing the unknown is often initially frightening, even when we are fairly certain that the change will improve our lives. Quitting means letting go of a product that brought instant pleasure and stress relief, and it involves making significant lifestyle changes, such as saying good-bye to well-established habits, finding new ways to cope with emotional stresses, and learning how to relate to others more openly and honestly.

Identifying and being able to admit your particular fears about quitting your addiction is an important first step in ultimately resolving those fears. Many of the people we have counseled and interviewed found it beneficial to do this as they started out on their healing journeys. Below is a list that includes many of their responses. You can use this list to help you identify your own fears.   


Acknowledge each item with which you agree:

  • I'm afraid of becoming depressed.
  • I'm afraid of getting angry and upset.
  • I'm afraid of feeling lonely.
  • I'm afraid of getting stressed out.
  • I'm afraid of losing my sense of power.
  • I'm afraid of losing interest in other activities.
  • I'm afraid of having less enjoyment in other activities.
  • I'm afraid of feeling frustrated.
  • I'm afraid I'll get involved with even riskier behaviors.
  • I'm afraid I'll have to tell others about my problem and they'll reject me.
  • I'm afraid no one will understand and be able to help me.
  • I'm afraid I will fail if I try to quit.
  • Other...

Saying each of your fears out loud can also diminish their power. When you say a fear out loud to yourself or talk to someone else about it, the fear can start to feel less absolute and imposing. Out in the open, some fears may suddenly seem irrational. You may start to realize that, like anyone else, you have a natural ability to adapt to change, and that despite years of acting out, you are still capable of learning new ways of dealing with your problems. You can call upon friends, support professionals, and other resources to help you. The more you identify and express your fears, the clearer new options for getting your needs met will become.

Regardless of the nature of your fears, getting them out in the open weakens their influence and helps you stay motivated to quit your addiction. When you start to challenge your fears, and counter them with ideas for making valuable changes to improve the quality of your life, you'll feel emboldened and empowered to continue on your healing journey. Remind yourself that anyone who has been brave enough to quit your addiction has faced similar fears and came out stronger, because they had the courage to move forward and did not allow their fears to hold them back.


(adapted from:) © 2009 Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz. Adapted from The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, pp. 150-154, by Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz. This excerpt was provided for GuardYourEyes by the authors. For permission to duplicate or reproduce, contact the authors at

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