What Triggers My Bad Behavior?

Hey, Craig here.

In these Whiteboard Sessions, I leave the talking to Steven Luff, a licensed MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) in the state of California, co-author of Pure Eyes: a Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity and creator of the X3Pure online recovery program.

I love these sessions. If you’ve never been to therapy or counseling, it can be helpful to learn about the kind of things that trigger behavior, and the science behind it. Luff does a great job of describing some of that here. I think it helps connect the dots for a lot of people.

In today’s session, Steven is answering the question, “What triggers my ‘bad’ behavior?” or more specifically “What triggers behavior?” 

When I say “bad” behavior in this context, what I mean is addictive, compulsive sexual behavior, but as Steven says in the video, all behavior — whether you see it as good or bad — is triggered by circuits in our brain, and by our conditioned responses.

For some people, triggers are sensitized by different internal circuits, such as fear, grief, lust, etc.

A lot of stuff triggers behavior because we’re human. We’re organisms, we’re mammals and we’re built to survive.

When the light bulb turns on, and we discover the consequences of our behavior – whether good or bad – we can better make rational decisions about life. What do I want my life to look like? How can I address these primary circuits and begin to behave differently?

You need to pay attention to the ways you’ve been conditioned to behave (and begin to recondition yourself).

This week on our site, we’re relaunching our most successful program: My Pilgrimage 2.0. And when I say “most successful,” I mean that members who have gone through this program have discovered true freedom. The content touches on many of the things Steven mentioned in the video: triggers, root issues, reflecting on conditioned behavior, and dealing with pain in our past.

Definitely check it out this week, we’ve got some special bonuses for you. This could be the year that you get things turned around and on track!



  • Saying a behavior is “bad” shuts down our exploration of it. If we can’t explore it, we can’t get a better understanding of who we are and how we want to change.
  • We don’t think first, we just are.
  • Our brain circuits are related to basic survival. If you don’t recognize that you have these primary circuits in your brain and that we evolve for the sake of survival, it’s very easy for us to confuse and equate compulsive behavior with an identity statement like, “I’m bad.”
  • You can’t get healthy in the same environment that made you sick, right? You need to start rationalizing and thinking through your triggers. It may be scary to recognize that what you experienced as a child triggered – or, sensitized – your fear circuits. Maybe you’re experiencing PTSD.
  • Challenge your conditioned responses. You’re never going to realize that your wife is a safe person unless you also realize that much of your own logic is irrational. Hopefully she is. You may have married your mother (but hopefully not). Likely, your wife is a safe person, and you don’t have to be afraid anymore. But you do have to start to do the work.
  • For people who haven’t dealt with past trauma, what happened to them when they were 4 years old is happening to them still, now. 
  • It’s time to let this go. And, not just, “I need to let it go and I’m bad because I can’t.” Not just, “The Bible tells me to forgive, but because I don’t feel capable of forgiveness, I’m bad.” No, you’re not bad. It’s just that your brain circuits are sensitized. And you need to bring in some tools to recalibrate them.



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