It was over two years ago when I first discovered Nofap. My best friend and I, in our last year of flight school, had just finished up a series of oddjobs in the city to get some extra booze money. It was late and it was a school night, and we had a two hour drive home. So we did what we always did when we hit the road — we listened to talk shows on youtube and tried our best not to fall asleep.
About half way through the drive, we switched our attention to man named Gavin Mcinness, a loud and flamboyant character whose noisy, controversial, yet witty commentary on social issues was compelling enough to keep us awake. specifically, his video on the sexual behaviors of millennials and the factors influencing them gave us something to pass the time with. Gavin spoke of the dangers of pornography, and encouraged his listeners to abstain from it. Hmmm, what’s all that about?
My friend thought the video was funny. I laughed too, but deep down, I was deeply intrigued by this “Nofap” movement. I was 21 years old, and I was doing very few positive things in my life. I was a heavy smoker and a heavier drinker, I was out of shape, and extremely bitter from a breakup that was caused by my inability to perform in the bedroom (not the first time either). I had nothing to lose by trying it. I had always suspected that my porn use was a problem, but this was the very first time I was confronted with these issues head on. and all because of a dumb video we watched on some long, lonely drive home
My story is proof that porn can affect anyone. At my deepest point with this addiction, I had a fulfilling social life, a myriad of hobbies, and a job I loved. Yet the addiction persisted. It’s something I’ve written about pretty thoroughly in my journal a gap in the clouds, so I’ll paraphrase from it here.
“You remember that weird, slightly off kid at school? He wore those weird cargo shorts and was always staring at the ground. He was an awkward gangly mess of self conscious patheticness — yeah every school had this kid. Well, that kid was me. He didn’t know how to open a locker, or write notes, and sometimes his shirt was on backwards, oh — and he had a porn problem. It was really bad.
Those first few months of school were the worst days of my life. I was watching porn religiously to cope, which I had been doing for four years prior (since I wasaround 12). Porn seems to be a problem a lot of isolated people to have, so it’s not shocking that I took up the habit at such a young age. It was all pretty predictable
Thankfully, and I mean THANK GOD, I somehow made friends in high school. These guys changed my life man. They showed me how to shotgun a beer and hit a joint, they showed me how to change a tire on a car, they showed me how to talk to girls, and most importantly, they showed me how to socialize. It felt so fucking awesome to be at least a little normal. But, I still had the porn problem.”
Everything that followed was a grind. It took two years of failing, two years of giving up, two years of little success stories to get me here. Looking back at it all, I can say that I learned a lot. I see the things that worked, and the things that didn’t. So now I’m gonna go over the 5 changes I made that helped me the most on this journey.
**disclaimer — these are MY 5 rules that helped me succeed. they may not work for you, but they worked for me. maybe you’ll be able to take something from them, maybe you won’t
Rule #1 — I decided to finally understand this addiction
To reach a goal, you can’t just try. Yeah yeah, I know that showing up is half the battle, but to really achieve the success I saw in my head, I knew that I would have to become a student of the goal. In weight training, you don’t get results by just showing up and working out. You get results by understanding nutrition, implementing effective programming with proper rest times, and optimizing mobility and form. I realized that quitting an addiction required a similar approach from me. and it made a big difference
This is why I strongly encourage anyone attempting to quit porn to read “Your Brain On Porn” by Gary Wilson. It basically runs the gamut when it comes to understanding this addiction. It breaks down the science of porn addiction, explains a lot of misinformation that is prominent on this website, and has very helpful testimonies with practical advice on quitting for good.
This was a simple rule, but it may have helped more than all the others. Becoming a student of this goal was a difference maker for me.
Rule #2 — I started learning from my failures
While I was first beginning this journey, I quickly realized that failure was inevitable. We are dealing with a substance that taps into our most primal desires — and unlike other addictions, there’s no overdosing from porn like there is with drug or food addiction. The neverending trail of novelty provided by internet porn offers endless indulgence, so quitting it isn’t gonna be so easy. That became apparent to me pretty early
So, I failed. I failed for a long time. And I got nowhere. Why was this so hard for me? I’m trying so hard, I should be able to reach this goal!! I deserve success because of effort alone!!
It was pretty reckless. I was trying to fit a peg into a square hole with a damn jackhammer — the strike was powerful, but hardly effective.
So, I made a change. I had always accepted my failures, but I decided that I would start to learn from them.
This passage, from Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck” is certainly relevant
“Avoiding failure is something we learn at some later point in life. I’m sure a lot of it comes from our education system, which judges rigorously based on performance and punishes those who don’t do well. Another large share of it comes from overbearing or critical parents who don’t let their kids screw up on their own often enough, and instead punish them for trying anything new or not preordaine. And then we have all the mass media that constantly expose us to stellar success after success, while not showing us the thousands of hours of dull practice and tedium that were required to achieve that success. At some point, most of us reach a place where we’re afraid to fail, where we instinctively avoid failure and stick only to what is placed in front of us or only what we’re already good at. This confines us and stifles us. We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.”
Failure became important for me. Each failure had a tiny lesson hidden beneath the layers of disappointment. Those lessons were always there, but for a long time, I didn’t see them, nor did I care to look for them. But they were there, trust me
To put this into relevant example, I live in a small town where there is very little to do, so I’m home alone quite a bit. During these periods of isolation, I would often fall back into porn. But for a long time, I wasn’t sure why. I finally had to ask myself
- Why did I fail?
- What led me to this?
- What can I do to avoid this from happening again?
These questions made all the difference for me, and soon I realized that lonliness was a trigger for me. Had I not looked for the lessons hidden inside all of these failures, I would have never realized this. Now I know to leave the house and find something even slightly social to do when I feel this way, and it works for me.
Don’t just work hard, work smart and hard.
Rule #3 — I took Nofap off the pedestal
Controversial, I know, but this was an enlightening approach that really helped me relax when it came to Nofap.
It’s an easy trap to fall into while aimlessly browsing through success story after success story. I even fell for it when I posted this reddit topic, now the highest all time post on Nofap’s reddit page.
Nofap is doing an amazing thing here. It’s helping thousands through an addiction that society has begun to look favorably on. It’s motivating a new generation of people looking to take back control of their sexuality, and the posts behind these members are inspirational and motivating. Unfortunately, I believe there is some fallacy when it comes to some of these posts.
Porn is bad, I get it — there are hundreds of references and a huge collection of literature that links porn to the addiction model. Quitting it obviously comes with a slew of benefits that can enrichen a person’s life. But I realized that porn was not the single thing keeping me from happiness. Quitting it was (is) great, but quitting porn alone didn’t get me where I am today. I didn’t bench press 235 pounds after 12 months of training because I quit porn. I didn’t get that girl’s number last week because I quit porn. I didn’t finish that pile of books in my room because I quit porn. Nofap was simply a single domino, and tipping it over began a chain reaction that would only have been possible with a collection of carefully placed, individual dominos.
Reading all of those success stories and expecting huge changes in my life simply because I was quitting porn became a form of mental masturbation for me. I put too much pressure on myself to reach this goal — and the goal was superficial. I wanted “superpowers”, and I thought that Nofap was the singular thing keeping me from happiness.
This outlook was prominent in other areas of my life, particularly when it came to happiness. I used to think that happiness was a destination — somewhere I would arrive to after everything I desired fell into place. Now I have a healthier approach. Now I look at happiness as a muscle — and just like any other muscle in your body, you need to work it out to achieve growth. Nofap works out the happiness muscle. Reading works out the happiness muscle. Approaching a girl and getting rejected works out the happiness muscle.
Happiness is possible because I worked out that muscle enough times — Nofap alone could not get me there. It was an important lesson for me.
Rule #4 — Intermittent internet fasting
This was an incredibly helpful habit I picked up that was mostly effective at the beginning of a streak.
To put things into perspective, here’s a passage from a Washington Post article on the internet usage among teens:
“Teens are spending more than one-third of their days using media such as online video or music — nearly nine hours on average, according to a new study from the family technology education non-profit group, Common Sense Media. For tweens, those between the ages of 8 and 12, the average is nearly six hours per day”
Yikes! That’s a lot of wasted time man. If I played basketball as much as I looked at the internet, I’d be an even whiter version of Larry Bird!
And I was probably pretty close to those averages for a long time, especially when I moved into the small town. But at some point I had to ask myself, do I really need to be on the internet this much? The answer was a resounding no. My internet usage was making quitting porn a lot harder, and why wouldn’t it? If I’m trying to quit an addiction, why am I spending more than half of my waking day consumed by the very platform the addiction thrives on? That’s like an alcoholic working at a liquor store ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So I implemented a simple rule at the start of my streak: whenever I’m home, I’m turning my phone off. No internet, no games, no bullshit. It helped A LOT because
- It encouraged more productive activities while I was home, and
- It encouraged me to leave the house when I became bored
I don’t follow this rule anymore as I use my time more effectively now, but I still turn off my phone if I feel my internet usage is getting excessive, and it’s likely something I will continue to do for a very long time. It felt weird at first, but I’m glad I did it
Rule #5 — I turned off my web filters
Again, this is controversial, but after experimenting with web filters for many months, and following other users who did the same, I’m pretty confident that web filters are pretty ineffective at helping people quit porn. Maybe they worked for you, but I can honestly say that they hurt my recovery
Blocking a vice has a funny way of making said vice very alluring (see U.S. prohibition). In the case of porn, trying to block it only left me vulnerable to it. Instead of working on my discipline to not view porn, I tried to block it from my life and pretend it wasn’t there. This only made porn stronger, and my will to fight it weaker
Here’s the bad news: sex sells. Porn is everywhere, like it or not. It’s one of the reasons why quitting porn is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Trying to create a personal space where it didn’t exist only conditioned me to a world that didn’t exist, so when I came across a trigger in a movie or in a public setting, I was unprepared to deal with it.
Web filters are a temporary solution to a permanent problem. I’ve accepted that porn will always be there. It’s just a tap or a click away, and it will always be that way no matter how hard I try to block it. I’ve come to terms with this, and have found ways to keep myself from indulging in it. I developed my discipline, and it’s helped me reach my longterm goals far more than any web filter ever could.
I’m not gonna get into this. But I will say this — I finally enjoy going to work.
I’m a pretty lucky and blessed guy because I found my passion at an early age, and I was able to make it my job. I was obsessed with airplanes ever since I was little. In fact, I nearly get into car crashes because I’m staring at the damn airplane flying overhead, even at the age of 23 — that excitement has never faded.
Well, when I turned 21 I got my commercial pilots licence and got a job here in this (sad) little town. And you know what? I didn’t look forward to work at all. I was too lazy to wake up before the sun, I was too lazy to preflight the airplane, and my brain fog was so bad that I would fly for miles without a single appreciation for what I was doing. 90 days in, I can say that I look forward to work every day now. No — Nofap didn’t do this. It was many things. But it helped. A lot.
Soooo yeah, that’s it. I will continue to journal/be active on Nofap for the time being as I don’t quite feel like I’ve beaten this, so feel free to comment/PM me with any questions or whatever
KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT I LOVE YOU ALL XOXO