The funny thing is that even though I haven’t made a straight month or even 90 days or year without the old behaviour, the benefits I’ve felt have been possibly the most transformative change that I’ve made in my life.
- focus – after about 2 days after each relapse, my focus becomes clearer and it’s so much easier not to wander off into a daydream. In conversation I can concentrate on what people are saying and now I can actually read more than a sentence without getting distracted. This helps with my work, study, relationships, socializing and anything with a purpose.
- Confidence – this is truly the most important benefit for me as my interactions with women had been poor. I can now make witty conversation with random women in the street. Let’s put this into perspective. At November 2011, it would take me a very long time to ask a good looking girl for directions in the “mall” as a way to desensitize myself to approaching women. Now, it’s a laughable interaction that wouldn’t change my heartbeat one bit. Even 10 days into the first attempt I was starting conversations with women (not to pick-up, but just for fun). I remember so vividly how proud of myself I was. This is one of my favourite changes.
- Physical stamina and strength – like my first example showed, this will not only give you more energy (which, as I will explain, must be spent elsewhere) but what you’re capable of will grow.
- Mental stamina and willpower – another special benefit that I’m grateful for. Remember how I never used to exercise and if I did, the workout would be laughable for poor effort and then I’d quit? Now I exercise 3 times a week and when I exercise I have that mental strength to push past the pain barrier. So even if my greater physical strength stumbles, my mind keeps me going. I work better at my job, I actually study (hypnotherapy), I can contain myself in heated discussions, I eat 1000 times better than I used to and so much more. I’ve actually kicked meat and dairy to the curb.
- Inferiority – no guy likes to feel inferior to other guys and I noticed this benefit more by my feelings of inferiority returning after a relapse. This doesn’t need much explanation and it’s also harder to explain. After a lapse, I feel more needy, emotional, sensitive etc. and after a week of abstinence start to feel the reverse….like a man. The term may be subjective and the effects less quantifiable but you notice it in a change of the automatic ways that the mind perceives things. For example, when you’re sitting opposite a cute girl on the train and an alpha male type of guy comes on a sits next to you. Inferiority feelings are dramatically less and I’d feel less fearful.
- Acne – after about a week or so, the acne gradually clears up and my skin starts to smooth out. Then I relapse and it comes back again 🙂
- Feeling differently about women – this may be because I’m not pleasuring myself to female degradation anymore but at around the 1 week mark, if I risk relapse by fantasizing, it’s more about romantic situations and not the nasty stuff anymore. I want to feel a human soul connection more and want to slam a girls head into my crotch less….and as I’m not a psychopath, that’s a great change. As this benefit has always started just as I relapse, I’ve never fully experienced it but hopefully this reversal back to my normal loving self will grow back stronger as I push on.
- jaw tightness and knee pain – this I’m sure is just me but my jaw tightness goes after a few days of abstinence and the day after relapse my right knee joint feels weak and painful. Not sure how this is linked though.
- Increased desire to socialize – probably because I’m not getting my oxytocin from ejaculating to porn, I start to desire to socialize and guess what…when you want to talk to people, they actually like it (yeh, go figure). The number of times I get a phone call or txt could definitely correlate with my fapping if I recorded it. Whenever I had a binge, I’d not care about anyone in the world for a few days. What’s funny is that during PMO and after relapse, I felt incredibly lonely yet at the same time I didn’t want to know or care about anyone. I would sit at work or family dinners and just see people as so irrelevant yet cry in my room for feeling so lonely. During abstinence the reverse happens; even though I want to connect more, I don’t feel as lonely. This is VERY strange, so beautiful and very noticeable from the inside out.
Daydreaming – I don’t know how or why but during PMO years and after a relapse I found it very tough to get out of my own head. At that point my work suffers along with everything else; I’m just daydreaming. I’ve always been a big daydreamer yet I notice that after a week or two of abstinence, my desire to daydream is far reduced. I read an article about the difference between daydreams. We all have those 12 second daydreams that our minds wander into, but when people actively engage in their daydreams and having continual plots that they’ll pick up from where they left off, it indicates a real unhappiness with the world around them. I relate to this. When I have been 1-2 weeks free, even though I habitually begin to daydream, the want for it just isn’t there.
- Getting with women – I’ve had more sex in the year of up and down no fapping than at any other time in my life….FACT! with that combination of increased desire, more confidence, more risk taking, less anxiety, less inside my head, better attention in conversation etc., I was able to get myself a F.W.B and that’s amazing. She knows about my PMO and will read this coz I’m going to send her the link as well.
- empathy – this is similar to the socializing and feelings about women bit but I just care more about others and feel sad when I see something sad and feel happy for people when something positive happens to them. It’s really humanizing and it was that emotional numbness that first got me worried about my habit.
- Better orgasms…..that’s simple enough. If you don’t do it every day, when it does happen then it’s a genuine pleasure rather than just a fix. (TBC ….)
(the entire piece is 5000 words so it’s broken into different posts)
The day that I upload this story is exactly 1 year (and a day) since beginning my no fap commitment. It’s especially meaningful for me as I’ve started writing a personal story many times, including on day one and never uploaded it. Although it’s been 1 year, I’ve had countless relapses so I’m not on 365 days free from fapping but I am very experienced in knowing what it’s like to fall off the horse and even more experienced at climbing back on. Here’s my story, 1 year into the personal change, starting with the same pre-reboot beginning that I wrote 366 days ago:
Dec 21, 2011- “I started Masturbating before I was old enough to “produce”, started watching porn at about 13 (and mostly romance or pics) and I’m now 24 I’m wanking twice a day and I’m mostly only able to get turned on by porn types that I’d prefer to not even mention and my ex could not make me O (I told her I was just advanced). 6 years ago, if you met me you would say that I’m warm, lively, approachable, easy going, full of spirit, bountiful, outgoing and connected to others emotionally. I was a real people’s person and plenty of girls fancied me (although I was always too shy to approach). Life itself was pleasurable and a big genuine smile would often span my face (I was known for my smile). Now, my social anxiety, stress, emotional numbness, inferiority, loneliness and anger are almost overpowering. I can’t even maintain eye contact! I really was so taken back when realising my problem. I knew that porn had bad effects because I’m into psychology and studying to be a therapist (hypnotherapist) but I hadn’t realised that I hit 7/7 for addiction and how all of those issues I’m dealing with coincide with this. I was actually watching a documentary about psychopaths and it said that their range of emotion is smaller, so they don’t feel guilt and sadness as much as normal people and they don’t feel joy or affection as much as other people. . It’s called a blunted affect. I think this is true for what PMO has done to me to a smaller extent. I find that although I want to end this horrible cycle, it has been filling a void and comforting me but actually making the void bigger as well. I’ve tried to stop before but never lasting more than 2 days. My motivation now is so strong…. let’s see how things unfold”
Dec 20, 2012 – So here’s my story in retrospect. I’m 25, and looking back over this period of self-discovery, I’ve realised that as a teenager I vented my growing teenage sexual mind into a tissue instead of using it to get girls. As a result, I never gained the motivation or knowhow to approach girls which lead to more anxiety and more solitary venting. I have an addictive past (smoking, food and MJ), none of which I overcame without outside help. On the 6th morning, I woke up at 5am with more energy than I remember having ever. I ordered an escort in utter horniness and drove to the cash machine to take out money. I wouldn’t normally book an escort. It’s not something I would do but I was so horny. As I parked up back home, I did something that was so unlike me and was a real surprise; I cancelled the escort. Normally I just wouldn’t have that sort of self-control. to add to this weird shit that was happening to me, I then put on shorts, a jumper and running shoes and took my dog for a run. Let’s be clear about this so we appreciate the extent of change that happened to me in just 6 days and how far from my “normal” self this behaviour was. I NEEEEVER exercise!!! I’ve written more workout routines than the number of press-ups I’ve done. yet at 7am on the 27th December in England (fucking freezing cold and grey), I ran for miles…..and it felt amazing…like I could run over anything. That first attempt at no fap lasted for 16 days and in 1 days’ time, that record will be broken for the first time. Technically I edged during that attempt and I haven’t edged at all on this one. Over the course of the year I’ve fallen off the horse so many times, it’s hard to imagine how someone could keep getting back up and stick with it. Some may think that because I haven’t made it 90 days on the first try that my advice is less important but in fact I think that’s why my story is so needed. I know what the struggle is like and I know what learning curbs are. The guys who need to read these stories the most are the guys who, like me, know what it’s like to fall down.
So that was my introduction. From now on, with all this experience under my belt, I’m going to segment my piece into 1) Benefits, 2) Drawbacks/Withdrawal, 3) Rebooting advice and tips, and 4) General Summary.
Part 3 2) Well, I really haven’t had withdrawals like other people. No colds, sweats or any of that stuff. Maybe that’s because I haven’t gone past a total 2 weeks. If my benefits seem to have accumulated over the year of ups and downs, wouldn’t also my withdrawals? I do sometimes get really low…like deathly low but I feel like I’m past that stage. I have experienced flat lining and it’s definitely an odd one. I didn’t find it horrifically scary like some other guys and once you’re used to it, take it as an advantage for not wanting to relapse. Other than that the only drawback is temporarily being denied of a momentary pleasure. In context that’s hardly a drawback.
3) I could summarize the strategy for effectively overcoming this addiction and many others into 2 broad categories; fences and pathways.
FENCES are things you do to make it more difficult for you to fap and make you less vulnerable to the temptation.
PATHWAYS guide you in the right direction, making your journey easier and life better, filling the void with better behaviours.
In order to effectively know and enact those strategies, it’s important to get to “know thyself”. Some guys make it to their timed goal first try but many of us relapse. By having a calendar that you use to track abstinence and lapse, you’ll become a lot more conscious of what is behind your behaviour. My calendar is not just a tick or cross. I rank the previous day on a scale of 1-5 (5=perfect abstinence, 1=complete PMO) and then I write about 5-10 words accompanying. This could be “meditated, exercised and avoided you tube” on a good day or “perved at that magazine and lingered in bed” on a bad day. After a while you will get to know those vulnerable situations that make relapse more likely. Here are some that I’ve become aware of from my journey (and their corresponding FENCES): • Randomly and un-purposely surfing the web, especially YouTube and Facebook where I stumble across a picture or vid that includes attractive girls (like the friend of a friends profile that I click on just coz her photo’s cute). Minimize time surfing the web, and only use it for what you went on for in the first place. There will be a gap forming that this used to fill. What are you going to fill it with?
• Hands down pants. Even if I’m not fantasizing, pure physical touch can stimulate. This effect can linger below the surface (no pun intended) throughout the day.
• Fantasizing, even if it’s just romantic or of me flirting with a girl. This will get easier with time.
• Daydreaming that’s unrelated to sex at all. This kind of puts my mind into that imagination mode which makes fantasy more likely
• Lying in bed awake at night or in the morning. These two were MAJOR risk factors for me as I worked out from my calendar that around 80% of relapses were when I was already in bed.
• Eating crap – this is more to do with avoiding the bad foods that will lead to a sugar crash then it is about optimum nutrition. If you have MacDonald’s and then feel crappy later, you’re more likely to seek out a sure fire way to feel better again, right?
• Having nothing to do on the weekend or after work. Too much time on your hands, especially in the location where you most typically PMO (like home) is a massive problem. General but massively important and critical FENCE regarding these last two points; minimize the exposure you have to the times and places where you most commonly PMO. For me, lingering in bed am or pm and having nothing to do on evenings and weekends at home are risky so I only get into bed at the very last minute (lights have even been off for ten minutes as light keeps us awake and dark tires us quicker). I make sure that on the weekend, even if I can’t fill my day, the mornings are the key element. If I do nothing in the morning, the whole day ends up being a bum/slob day. GET OUT!
• Perving at girls around me. It’s neither helpful, nor is it going to get you laid. If you look, approach.
• Magazines and newspapers. Since moving out, I haven’t been walking past my mom’s stack of women’s magazines with hot celebs inside. Phew! Avoid these magazines if you can and certainly don’t read them.
• TV and Film. Pretty easy to spot because almost every film now has a hot girl in it. Especially in the more difficult first weeks, just avoid watching movies or too much TV. My PATHWAYS section will help you with alternatives.
• Adverts. I hate, I hate, and I HATE adverts. They’re like leeches trying to suck the soul out of you to make a quick buck. Check out this funny vid about TV adverts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf7uWRLqfgw&list=UU6co8_uGCP_EUQKGZguG63Q&index=4 adverts are designed to take advantage of your deepest most animalistic desires (sex and status) to manipulate you for a corporation’s goal of taking yours or someone else’s money. And guess what….they’re very good at it. As a hypnotherapist I can identify the hypnotic nature of adverts. At the very least turn off the volume but at best, just change the channel or turn the TV off.
• General negative emotions. I also noticed that feeling frustrated about anything, from my noisy neighbours to my overbearing Jewish mother could act as a trigger or even pre-trigger. Going on housing websites and checking out all the mansions I can’t buy puts me in a mind-set of wanting which also can make pleasure seeking (food and sex)more likely. Seeing glorified “males” on TV get put on a pedestal by women makes me jealous and angry. What is it for you? Stress? Boredom? Tiredness? Guilt? Loneliness? And what things trigger those general feelings?
• No Laptop, Tablet or phone while in bed. If I stumble across a sexy pic accidentally while in bed, that’s far more risky than if I see it in a coffee shop. Also, the activation energy needed to start something can be surprisingly preventative. I try to keep them out of my room entirely
• Only use bed for sleep and sex. If much of the relapses happen “there”, minimize time “there”
• Expanding on the last point, minimize time in the places, situations and times where and when you relapse or just PMO the most. For me it was being in bed for longer than necessary and being at home with nothing to do, especially on the weekends. What are your times and places?
Willpower alone is not enough. Willpower can be exhausted like everything else human. Using the above FENCES and PATHWAYS below will reduce your need to exert yourself. Most of our behaviour comes unconsciously. This is just about creating strategies to utilize our unconscious in our favour.
When you remove a major pleasure, there will be a void that needs filling. If you don’t fill the void with beneficial pleasures, that void will eventually get filled and then it won’t be with something good for you. The void will close up if denied pleasure for a while but why make things harder on yourself? I use the term “pleasure stacking” to describe the use of multiple mini pleasures to collectively make life easier while I handle not having that major pleasure from before. It also reduces the chances of starting another addiction during that timeframe. Here are my most trusted PATHWAYS:
- Meditation – I could draw the clearest correlation between my meditation practice (mindfulness meditation) and my abstinence. Meditation does a number of things (scientifically proven). It improves the attention and control of the mind. When a fantasy pops into your head, you’ll be able to let that image go and refocus your mind elsewhere more easily. Massively reduces stress and other negative feelings. More importantly it makes you more aware of what those negative feelings really are so we don’t get carried away with them. After meditating, the mind is so quiet and clear, things feel amazing.
- Exercise – once you get to a few days in, you’ll naturally find a certain amount of energy that needs to be used somehow. Like a dog that doesn’t get taken for walks, we go insane without using our energy. Exercising is so much easier when I don’t PMO and it’s a major helpful way to feel good (after the workout), relieve stress, improve sleep (remember how important it is to get to sleep quickly when getting to bed) and generally feel good.
- Socialize – I sometimes still feel uncomfortable going into group settings but the next day I usually wake up feeling better than ever. Social needs are definitely linked to this because it’s to do with the neural-transmitter oxytocin which is the love/connection chemical.
- Get a cuddle buddy – the reasons are the same as above. I met this girl who comes round and we often just lay together watching TV and it’s great because it’s a wonderful way to open up and feel a bonding. It really warms the heart. That surprisingly small act of chilling next to someone without even speaking can have wonderful effects over the following days.
- Gratitude diary – this is on the YBOP website under solo tools. Fantastic evidence shows that this simple thing will improve your overall mood if you stick to it.
- Having SMART goals. That’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely goals. Saying “I’m never going to look at a girl again” is not achievable. Personally, I don’t like the 90 day challenge because it puts the goal at a line that makes things….. CHALLANGING. Either just focus on short periods at a time like the weekend and then the week or just say “NOT FOR ME, THANKS” but I know that having a 90 day chart on my wall made the goal appear difficult and reduced my self-belief. Personally, having had experience at this, I take things one day at a time now and focus only on what can help or hinder me in the PRESENT moment (while knowing in the back of my mind that this behavioural change is for life).
- Bedtime routine – again, if your vulnerable situations are bed related, set a routine that helps you to fall asleep as quickly as possible once you’re in bed and to give you the best night sleep possible so that when you wake up, you’re refreshed and can get out of bed more easily. A good night sleep is essential for our mood and stress management. One thing that is crucial for me is to turn the lights down about 20 minutes before going to bed and stop all electronics like phone etc. 10 minutes before. This winds me down. I always wake up refreshed if I use a bed time routine.
- Self-hypnosis – if you’re still one of those people who believes hypnosis is some form of magic or mind control, I suggest you research some more. Hypnosis can help amazingly with a wide range of goals. Unfortunately, most of the iTunes audio downloads, specifically for porn, aren’t amazing from a hypnotherapists perspective (but they do help, especially if you listen frequently). Also, you can use the audio downloads for other issues that link over to PMO like stress or sleep or exercise motivation etc. Alternatively you can go and see a hypnotherapist in person although it will cost you a bit more. It’s quite funny that as a hypnotherapy student at the time, I avoided seeking professional help at all costs and then when I did, everything became a million times easier.
What to do when an urge arises? Like Gary from YBOP says, you can’t white knuckle this and rely on willpower alone. The best way to overcome this is to rely on strategies that make the need for willpower less likely. However, if you do encounter the willpower moment, here are some things that you may find useful:
1) Remove yourself from the environment. Leave the room or the building and you’ll find your state change rapidly. Even if you still have the temptation, your ability to act on it is reduced. The more removed you are, the more the change of mental state.
2) Go for a drive. It’s distracting and the music in the car will help also
3) Go for a walk or jog. This will expend that extra energy, release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine and will give you time to clear your head.
4) Watch stand-up comedy. I know TV is not recommended but stand-up comedy is typically just ugly guys, making us feel good by belittling themselves and celebrities we love to hate.
5) Take 5-HTP. Ok, so I’m not saying this to everyone. 5-HTP is pretty much serotonin supplements. Serotonin makes us feel calmer and happier and in larger doses is used for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
I absolutely do not recommend supplements as a major tool to overcome this problem but they can be considered like a mental health version of a walking stick. If you hurt your leg, while things are really rough, it can help you to stay up right. Then as things get a little better, they support you while you do the real therapy (in this case meditation, exercise, socializing etc.) and then you remove them completely while continuing the therapy. If you use them daily, you’re becoming dependent and medicating which defies the point of freedom. But it can act like a walking stick at particularly hard times. Gary from YBOP is right in that this problem is not here because of a supplement deficiency. Just be careful with it please.
6) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. I won’t explain it in detail so Google it if you don’t already know. It’s used for post-traumatic stress disorder and pretty much overloads the attention so other things (like that fake porn thing that you used to believe meant something) get removed from the attention.
7) Pray. I don’t as I’m not a believer but for some of you I’m sure this can be comforting. If you relate this issue with a higher power and purpose, reconnecting your heart and mind with that higher power and purpose will strengthen your resources to head in the right direction.
What’s my view on having sex during reboot? Personally I think that if you’re not recovering from ED, go for it. That’s exactly what your body needs; to appreciate the real beauty in this world. My one caution is while actually having the sex is great for reboot, the memory of it or anticipation of it could be a risk factor e.g. sexting.
4) SUMMARY – Relapse. This extract is from my first fail about a year ago. Reading it now I realise how naïve I was. This is typical for beginners…. “Jan/6 – FAIL!!! It started with thoughts about women, then I went on a dating site, then an adult dating site, then after being aroused I just went to check out some porn “but I won’t M of course”. Then I was edging myself. It was actually the first time I was edging myself during abstinence. Then, during the same clip where I consciously said to myself that I’ll just edge, a highly arousing bit of the clip happened and I just went for it. My brain shut down. The orgasm was immensely powerful but so empty and not worth doing. I feel so ashamed. Tired and ashamed. I came so far really was so certain that I wasn’t going to stumble. All those changes… the confidence, the assertiveness, the stamina, energy, emotional rebalancing and so many more positive changes that I’ve dreamed about for so long …….. F*CK !!!!! Start again ” Relapse is a hiccup, not a rewind. You’re not starting again from day one because this technically is not about the number of days but about the changes in your brain (and that doesn’t go back to square one with a single hiccup). Pick yourself up, identify the trigger, identify what you could have done differently, and keep moving to the life you deserve because it’s a great place to be.
Excessive masturbation to porn is NOT the problem. I repeat, it is NOT the problem. It’s no more the problem than someone’s overeating or shooting heroin. All of these unhelpful behaviours are our minds SOLUTION to another problem in our lives. The reason how this 14 day streak has been incredibly easy has been because I saw a hypnotherapist who opened my eyes to this truth and during hypnosis, I worked on my deep, inner problems like my lifelong fear or unwillingness to experience discomfort. Once I was able to appreciate at an unconscious level that I don’t need to feel comfortable all the time, discomfort is much easier to handle. You may be here to overcome PMO but really PMO is just a poor solution to your real problem. My advice is to understand what your real problem is and solve it better. The desire to PMO will subside more easily as you do that.
I’m flying to a luxury resort in Thailand for 2 weeks tomorrow so I know that abstinence will be a million times easier (no triggers and in paradise). I’m going to give a 30 day update when I return which should give greater insight for you guys. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANNUKAH