I can’t change

Challenging faulty core beliefs that fuel sex addiction and porn addiction

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at how faulty core beliefs can sabotage recovery. We’ve looked at the faulty core beliefs behind ‘I don’t need to change’ and ‘I don’t really want to change’. Today we’re focussing on the faulty core beliefs that result in us saying ‘I can’t change’ by looking at the 3 most common types. The first is to do with competence, the second is to do with commitment, and the third is to with comparison. 


These are the faulty beliefs that say I’m not capable of change. ‘I’m just not good enough’. ‘I’m rubbish’. ‘I’m useless’. ‘I’m stupid’. ‘I’m a failure’. If any of these apply to you, I bet you hear them a lot – not just when it comes to giving up porn or whatever your unwanted behaviour may be, but around a whole load of other stuff too. A general sense of not being good enough almost always begins in childhood with parents or teachers having critical attitudes and/or unrealistic expectations. This may be communicated overtly and directly either cruelly through name calling or it may have been more subtle. It is common for children to be teased, maybe comments like not being the ‘sharpest tool in the box’, or ‘you’ll never be a brain surgeon’ or even ‘he/she’s our creative child’ (as opposed to the intelligent one).  These are all subtle ways of communicating that you’re ‘not that clever’. 

Another subtle, and common example is when your perceived failings are constantly highlighted and your achievements either belittled or ignored. For example, you get 95% and you’re asked, why not 100%? Or you get 3 A’s and a B – and the question is why only a B? The message here is you always ‘could have done better’ and that can build into a life- long message of ‘I’m just not good enough’, ‘not clever enough’.  And as we’ve explored before, when something becomes a core belief we then privilege the experiences that prove that belief and hence it becomes part of your lived reality. I’m not a competent person and therefore I can’t change.


There are lots of reasons why we may think we’re bad at commitment. For example, ‘I’m not strong enough’, ‘I’m weak’, ‘I’ve got no self-control’, ‘I’m greedy’, ‘I’m needy’. This is different from competence in as much as the belief is ‘I can change, but it won’t last’, because ‘I never stick at things, or I always give up, or give in’. Understandably this is going to get in the way of having much motivation for change because you assume you’re going to relapse. Like other messages, it won’t just be around this addiction, this will be something you’ve been telling yourself for years about lots of different things. And no doubt you’ll have a life time of experience of things you’ve started but then given up, maybe hobbies, jobs, relationships. Maybe you also have a host of other bad habits that you’ve failed to make any lasting change with. Nail biting, drinking, maintaining a healthy diet or regular exercise. Where does this start? Well it’s almost certainly in childhood again. Like all messages, they may have been direct and obvious or much more subtle. You may have been chastised and told off for ‘having no control’ or ‘giving up’ or ‘giving in’, or perhaps it was even subtler with tuts and sighs and rolling of the eyes whenever you succumbed to something. 


This is a series of faulty beliefs that are always comparing yourself to other people. It’s the voice that says ‘it’s not that I don’t believe I’m capable of change or committing to change, it’s that I’m a special case’. You may tell yourself you’re a special case because – It’s been going on so long, or what I look at or do is fundamentally different, or I’m worse than others because…., or I’m less motivated than others because….. Like other faulty beliefs, you’ll have collected evidence in other areas of life where you’ve been ‘different’. Maybe because of your race, or faith or sexual orientation, you’ve always felt different. For some reason or another you’ve always felt like an outsider and as though you don’t quite belong or fit in. Again, this will go back to childhood, a time when perhaps you genuinely were different and did feel left out, perhaps at school or in the playground. There was something that made you ‘special’ or ‘weird’ depending on how you framed it.  Remember the gifted child is just as much an outside at school as the one with dyslexia, often receiving special treatment that separates you from your peers. Sometimes it’s the whole family that is different, due to faith or race or financial inequality. Or of course, all of the above.

The sense of difference can continue throughout life and at times may be seen as an advantage. Often people who are different go on to be entrepreneurs because they don’t feel bound by the same rules and roles as others. But that same ability to step outside of the box can also lead the very same people into addiction and compulsivity. Continuing the belief that ‘I’m not the same as’… can become a significant block to recovery for two reasons. Firstly, it can make you doubt that whatever treatment you try will work for you, in spite of the fact that it may have worked for thousands of others and secondly, it can let you off taking responsibility for putting the work in because ‘it’s different for me’.  It can become the ultimate ‘get out of jail free card’. 

How faulty core beliefs impact recovery

Let’s summarise – faulty beliefs that tell you ‘I can’t change’ are either to do with competence, commitment or comparison.  They start in childhood and you accumulate evidence to back them up as you go through life. Faulty core beliefs affect our thoughts and our behaviour which means that over time we act as if they’re true. We fail because we assume we’re going to fail. We give up because we assume we will. We become the one that’s different because we don’t do what others do. There are many different faulty core beliefs that can trip up your recovery but what they all have in common is that they’re ‘faulty’. 

Beating sex and porn addiction

To get into recovery from porn addiction and compulsive sexual behaviours, you have to learn to rewrite those faulty scripts.  We’ll be looking at how you do that later in this blog series, but in the meantime, why not join us on one of our Kick Start Recovery Workshops and learn how the Laurel Centre can help you beat your problem for good.

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