I have read many of the success stories posted on the forum and don’t want to add one more post to the hundreds that are already on here with laundry lists of withdrawal symptoms and new “superpowers” that they acquired.
Instead, I want to provide a framework that early rebooters should be able to apply to their reboots in order to maximize the chance that they will have in following through with their commitments. These aren’t just how-tos on resisting urges or new habits that can help you on your journey. Rather it is a deeper analysis into the mindset that worked for me once adopted on how to keep the determination to push on in every moment whether you feel like Superman or the scum of the earth.
Me on Day 0 (a.k.a. human garbage)
I’m just going to provide some perspective on how deplorable my state was before my reboot. I had a deep infatuation for all things pornographic built up from 15 years of unfettered use starting at the age of 8. I could spend 2-3 hours in a single session and have up to 7 sessions a day.
* Just a warning that I’m going to use some raw, unfiltered language to describe content very sexual in nature. It will likely trigger synapses in your brain to evoke urges, so all I’m going to say is either stay strong or skip to the next line starting with an asterisk *
The content I consumed covered an extensive range from softcore to hardcore/extremely vulgar. I could get off to braless teens dancing on Tik Tok, fancams of K-Pop idols showing cheek/cleavage and even pictures of friends in swimsuits/lingerie on social media. On the extreme end, I could get off to death strangle porn, and when it came to animated porn, I could even get off to girls getting skewered or ripped apart by a grotesque variety of monsters or creatures.
The most detestable manifestations of my sexual indulgences were self-recorded voyeurism and meetings with sex workers.
* All clear *
The reason I’m sharing the above is two-fold:
- This is the only community where this kind of confession miraculously gets met with more empathy than disgust. Really take a moment to appreciate that such a community exists.
- If I got this far on the first try based on where I started, there should be no reason that you can’t do the same on your next try.
They say you either die a hero, or you live to see yourself become the villain. I don’t know why no one ever said that if you want to return from villain to hero all you need to do is stop jacking off.
The Mastery Framework
Everything that I am about to share is just the ideas of George Leonard from his book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment put into the context of persevering in a hardmode reboot. I would highly encourage those willing to read it with an open-mind to do so. To a lucky few, it will completely transfigure how you perceive the human condition. You will find many free PDF versions of the full text after a Google search with the keywords “mastery george leonard pdf”.
The easiest way to describe mastery is as a path of growth that resembles the following curve:
All of your progress is made in short bursts of upward trajectory, followed by a slight regression into a prolonged period of seemingly getting nowhere albeit this state of plateau is marginally better than the state you were in before the burst of improvement. I am making the conjecture that 95% of relapses happen during the period of regression and period of plateau. In fact, most of the community knows that some of these plateaus could be labeled as the “flatline.” That being said, the flatline does not account for other types of plateaus experienced by a number of fapstronauts who are already well into their reboots and have already reported success stories. That is why even the best of us still have vulnerable moments when we have our “superpowers”, but the vigor of life that we felt when we first attained our powers seems to vanish over time.
You have to realize that a lot of these success stories are being written around the peak of one of the short bursts of improvement, or it is someone who recently lost a previous streak that is reminiscing about the feeling before falling victim to relapse. Let the record show that I acknowledge all of the progress that they made is real, and I am also immensely proud of the strides that I made in these past 30 days. However, I believe that the amount of stress that you have to endure along the way is often underplayed, and the benefits received are often over-glamorized.
The foundation to a successful reboot is a proper expectation of how you will feel. I think too many rebooters go in with the expectation that they will suddenly wake up after weeks without PMO and unlock an arsenal of superhuman abilities that have never before been known to them. The reality is this: (1) you will spend days in agony, (2) you will wake up one day feeling noticeably better, (3) the days of agony return at a slightly reduced intensity and (4) repeat. Eventually, agony becomes pain; pain becomes discomfort; and discomfort becomes a poke at the side. That progression will, however, take much longer than you are hoping for and often much longer than some members of the community have marketed it to you because life has an annoying tendency to be perfectly balanced. 90 days of recovery in response to years of mental and physical vandalization is the equivalent of applying a bandaid to a gunshot wound.
Many of you have and will come to the verdict that this cycle of incremental improvement followed by periods of destructive withdrawal or unrewarded effort is not worth enduring no matter how green the grass looks on the other side. That is why the core tenant of the framework I am presenting to you is one that at a glance seems counterintuitive — welcome the struggle that comes with abstaining from your addiction and embrace the low points of your journey as much as you do the high points.
Below I will outline the 5 guidelines on your path to mastery and how applying them can give you solace at all points on your journey because you know that every second you continue to run the course is a step forward on a path that leads to mastery in the domains of self-discipline, emotional acuity and relationships.
1. Be aware of how homeostasis works
Homeostasis is a natural process that occurs in all aspects of life. The process works much like a thermostat. If a thermostat is set to 72F and the temperature drops to 68F, the heater blasts until the temperature returns to 72F. If the temperature rises to 76F, the AC blasts until the temperature returns to 72F. The body works much the same way.
If you have conditioned your body to expect 10 PMO sessions a week, your internal thermostat has been set to 10 PMO sessions a week. If you suddenly introduce a period of 0 PMO sessions a week, your body will react by sending a wave of symptoms and negative emotions to encourage you to bump that number back up to 10.
Whether the change is for the better or for the worse, your body will be resistant to change in an effort to protect you. This means that if you are feeling severe symptoms you are either doing something tremendously harmful or tremendously helpful. Based on the body of testimonials on this forum, I think it is safe to say that in this case it is the latter.
2. Be willing to negotiate with your resistance to change
A common problem that I believe people run into is trying to accomplish too much during their streaks. I can attest to making the same mistake. By reading all of the stories of what others have accomplished, I tried to look for shortcuts to do the same in the form of dopamine detoxes, exercise regimens, diets, sleep aids, etc. While those all certainly make an impact, the reality is that most days you will not be very motivated to do anything. When those times come, just sitting passively while making the conscious decision to refuse your temptations with whatever technique works best for you is more than enough.
Sometimes for every two steps forward, it makes sense to take one step back in preparation to making many more steps forward. An area where I believe most people don’t give themselves enough credit is the mere fact that going through another day without submitting to the death grip of addiction is in itself a remarkable demonstration of self-control and maturity. So what if you didn’t do anything all day? You still accomplished the one feat that mattered most: you got through another day without relapse.
3. Develop a support system
If you’re out sailing, it always helps to have someone who can throw you a line when you fall overboard. Imagine how differently Moby Dick would have ended if Ishmael didn’t have Queequeg. There can be nothing more reassuring than knowing you have someone who understands your pain and finds happiness in your happiness.
I share this advice having gone the path thus far alone. Make no mistake, you can still do this alone, but there is no shadow of a doubt that having someone with you will make it easier. (Just as a short aside. If anyone would like to accompany me as I continue, I would delight in hearing some of your stories and helping with accountability).
4. Follow a regular practice and fall in love with the practice
There seems to be a split philosophy on whether or not rebooters should keep day counters. My personal opinion is that you should track everything that you can. Heck, keep a notebook and pen on you, and tally every time you resisted an urge. Every time a provocative image popped into your head and you answered “no,” you practiced your craft.
What you started on Day 0 is not rehabilitation. What you started is an art. The art of being able to acknowledge sexual impetus and respond by channeling your energy from the tension built up into productive outlets. The road to mastering an art is difficult. You will face obstacles to your growth and have to practice the same techniques over and over again. If you work long and hard enough, one day you will find that you can do everything naturally; you will be channeling sexual energy into productive energy with so much ease that you will forget that you are even doing it.
The road will be long and rocky, but if you focus on the practice rather than the destination, you will find fulfillment. The late Kobe Bryant was once asked why he woke up at 4AM every day to practice until puddles of sweat formed all over the court. His answer was not that he would do whatever it takes to win. His answer was that even though going out there every morning was painful, he loved the process. Every time you feel withdrawal, anxiety or depression, embrace it and find wonder in the idea that all it takes to make peace with those negative emotions is to let them pass. This is the common theme you will find in your practice, and if you learn to love it then you will treat your day counter as a schedule rather than a progress bar with a cancel button under it.
5. Don’t set a cap to your streak
As a corollary to that which was previously mentioned, putting a cap on your streak will only make you seek the destination and distract you from the journey. I was surprised to see the number of accounts I read of people who chose to abstain from ejaculating even after many days completed in a committed relationship because they felt the retention helped with their focus. I feel that these testimonies suggest that the path to mastery followed on NoFap encompasses more than just gaining the confidence to attract women or improving sexual libido.
Embark on your journey with the expectation that there will always be more pleasant surprises waiting for you if you continue your streak. One practice I adopted is to log the days that I have completed adjacent to the days that have yet to be completed (see signature). For me, this is a powerful practice because it helps me visualize just how small 30 days is in the context of how much longer I can go.
I find it very fitting that the logo for NoFap is a rocket just after take off. I believe a reboot is a journey that presents you with limitless possibility with periods of turbulence. Every inch traveled takes you to new heights and new territory, and I think many more of us would stick along for the ride if we just realized that we are the ones piloting the craft. Such a responsibility can come with a lot of fear, but if you head into it with courage then you will get to explore places and feelings you never have before.