Let me preface this by saying I haven’t developed any superpowers in the last 100 days. I can’t see through walls, I don’t have any more girls following me around than I did to begin with (just one special one). I’m well aware that what I’m writing is going to come off as super, super boastful. But. I feel like I’m fundamentally a different person.
I started trying to quit porn 2 years ago, but couldn’t commit to it. I tried a couple of things, including:
- Net Nanny, K9 blocker, changing my hosts file, cold turkey
- Locking my phone from porn sites
But none of it worked. I got nowhere. To a large extent I’d given up on quitting and was content with my 1-2 fap/day routine. But then something happened.
I was talking to my cousin as I was driving him home when he told me that I should quit porn. To give some context on this, my cousin is hooked on H and Ice and has been in and out of rehab a few times. My father was hooked from a young age, and another cousin has died from an OD in the past.
Needless to say, it hit me hard. Really hard. I distinctly remember the sinking feeling I had when I realised what was going on.
Here’s someone I’ve known my whole life, desperately in and out of rehab trying to quit, telling me to drop porn because it’ll fuck me up. Here’s a guy desperately in need of help trying to help me stay away from something he thinks will hurt me. That’s not to say hard drugs aren’t bad – it’s to say that this guy, even in his own personal hell, is warning me off something when he is so desperately need in help.
If someone you perceived to be in dire need of help started offering you advice, wouldn’t you sit and think about it for a second?
Anyway it really got to me, so I quit right there and then, before dropping him off.
It’s been 100 days since then, and I am no longer the same person. I hit my longest streak EVER, and ended up changing my life so dramatically that I can’t even believe it.
The difference was that this time I was entirely, entirely committed to the cause. I didn’t give it 99% – I gave it everything. I didn’t block a single site, or rely on any external aids. I just… made a decision not to do it anymore, and stuck with it. I can talk about this in a lot greater detail if you guys like (I’m a very detail oriented person), but ultimately for me my recovery involved one major thing: involving myself in the concept of pornfree.
But things started to happen that completely changed me. Pornfree was just the beginning – it showed me that, with the right tools, I could willfully change myself for the better bit by bit by using something akin to r/theXeffect (with my own flavour, which I’ve commented on in the past).
So I quit porn, then 28 days later I quit fapping (and failed at it a couple of times).
Then I quit snoozing, and started waking up early in the morning. To fill the time I started meditating and doing morning tabatas.
I used my newfound free time and energy (from not fapping or watching porn) in the evening to study and prepare for a job I had wanted since January 2017 (but was originally rejected for). I used this newfound confidence (again, not from pornfree, but from experiencing my willpower push away my addiction) to reach out to people and start networking.
I quit eating junk food, and sugar, and started scheduling my days to try and improve my conscientiousness over time (thanks Jordan Peterson).
I got rejected loads. Over and over. But it didn’t matter – because I’d failed at every habit (except porn) at least twice, and realised that that was part of the process. I snowballed and capitalised off my momentum from porn to keep pushing myself higher.
Anyway, long story short – I got an offer yesterday. The contract I’m signing is putting me +$27k from where I was this time last year, and I was already paid reasonably well (Big 4).
Quitting porn changed my life – but not entirely because it sapped my energy constantly.
It showed me what I was capable of, and gave me just a little nudge in the right direction, which I snowballed into bigger and bigger tasks. I’m finally on a track I’m proud of, and I couldn’t have done it without all of you.
I’m happy to help you guys on anything I’ve prepared myself – exercise, nutrition, waking up early, meditating, networking, interviewing, no fap, and porn. Happy to talk about what I’m planing in the future, or what habits I reckon totally rock!
So the way I see it, ultimately there’s an equation for whether or not you end up relapsing, which, when you relapse, looks like this:
Willpower < (urge to watch – impediments to porn)
Where willpower is a function of: (Pornfree motivation) x (remaining willpower)
I went through two major phases in my recovery. In summary they were:
- Increase impediments to porn
- Increase ‘remaining willpower’ and ‘pornfree motivation’
I’ll explain what I mean:
My first instincts were to raise the impediments to porn as high as I could, in the hopes that it would cancel out my urge to watch porn to such a degree that my conscious mind would be able to kick in and overpower it. I think this is a common first avenue for a lot of people – that is, cut out porn by setting up as many blockers as you can, and outsmart your future thirsty self to such an extent that you ‘wake up’ before anything bad happens.
This worked really well (I got to about 20ish days), but in the end failed because the blockers weren’t working effectively and I’d end up finding a way around them.
The other problemI have with this approach is that by laying out impediments you’re not really spurring any change internally. Although you’ll be able to pass the initial withdrawal shocks, ultimately your character is still the same, and hence will eventually be triggered down the road. In essence, you’ll rely on the blockers as a crutch and never really ‘get better’.
My second approach worked much better. I realised that blockers were ultimately a fragile way of approaching the problem, and decided to change the left side of the equation above instead. To do that I did two things, which I’ll talk about separately: avoided those ‘low willpower’ states, and increased my ‘pornfree motivation’.
I was very self aware of my porn problems for a long time, and so started to recognise patterns of when I would easily succumb to temptation. An example of this is late night browsing, or cruising the web on a day off for more than an hour or two. Although I wouldn’t be *triggered* by anything, I’d eventually succumb to even a small urge because I’d just run out of motivation to do anything.
I believe you can increase your willpower over time via meditation and working on your conscientiousness, which will boost this value, but I started by simply reducing my exposure to situations where I knew I’d have low willpower (for the first 28 days, anyway). Does that make sense? The subtle difference is that while you can boost willpower over time, to begin with it’s better to avoid situations where you know you’ll be weak in the first place.
I think this is where pushups and cold showers might fall a little flat. You’re already low on willpower, yet you’re entertaining the idea of hopping in to a cold shower or shocking your body with exercise – is that something you’d do in a low willpower state? I don’t think so.
Anyway, I used scheduling, hanging out with friends, and sleeping earlier to avoid those spots. Over time I’ve increased my exposure to ‘low willpower’ situations but am more capable of managing them as I have had a bit more experience being pornfree.
The final nail in the coffin was increasing my ‘pornfree motivation’. This was hands down the biggest difference between this time and last. This is the motivation you have specifically for the task; it’s the involvement I was talking about in my original post.
Imagine this as the final gas you have in the tank, but only specifically for going porn free. It’s a mindset change that multiples whatever energy you have left, and makes you stronger the more committed you are.
I think this is the reason some people are able to do the aforementioned cold showers from above while others aren’t. While you and person x may have the same amount of energy remaining, your dedication to the cause means that you’re able to squeeze out more from each unit of willpower you have left. He can’t cold shower because he’s not dedicated, you can because you understand where it falls into the equation.
Anyway, for this I did a couple of things: I read r/pornfree daily. I read, and discussed, YBOP and ‘The Shallows’. I spent a lot of time on r/theXeffect, and really, really metabolised the negative effects of porn. This was the biggest thing for me.
I convinced a couple of close friends, I convinced my girlfriend (For a time), the whole 9 yards – I was an annoying guy to be around for at least a week or two while I was coming to terms with everything.
And something clicked: this isn’t what kid me expected adult me to be doing. If I want to be successful… I have to quit. That was it.
Alright so TLDR:
The porn relapse equation is: (willpower) < (urge to watch – impediments to porn)
Impediments to action don’t help in the long run because they don’t instantiate a character change. Instead, focus on tipping the scale by doing three things:
- Avoid situations with low willpower
- Improve your willpower over time
- Increase your involvement in the pornfree community so that you commit everything to your identity. This is an identity based habit.
Sorry if this is choppy – it’s past midnight here, but I really wanted to send something out to you before I went to bed.
JP talks about conscientiousness(CS) being comprised of two parts: orderliness and industriousness. I’m bastardising this, but IIRC orderliness is, for example, your ability to make and generate plans; and industriousness is your ability to stick to plans to completion.
JP mentions that IQ and CS are the most important factors in determining your success later on in life. While IQ arguably can’t be changed, CS can (to an extent).
So he mentions creating a regular schedule as a way of improving CS – this is really to train yourself in orderliness over time. I found that setting a schedule every day helped me bring more order into my life, but also carve out times for really important tasks (google Cal Newport’s article on Time Blocking). By doing this I also recognised what fragile plans looked like, as I could compare what my schedule was to what I actually ended up completing.
To work on industriousness, you need to improve your ability to ‘say something and then do it’. r/theXeffect is a fantastic way to do that, as is porn free. The thousand mile bird’s eye view is that you say you’ll do xyz, and then you do it. The nitty gritty of it is that you understand how to break a task down into manageable chunks and then actually complete them – that is, you understand how small a task has to be (for you personally) that it doesn’t pose a material risk in you completing that action.
I’ll give you an example: in my eyes, a non industrious person says, “I’m going to the gym every day for 2 hours”. An industrious one breaks it down and says, “I’m going to the gym and doing 5 minutes on the elliptical. That’s it”.
While person A eventually fails and crashes, person B sets the bar just low enough that his risk of failure is low. He still challenges himself, but he does so at such a gradual level (relative to his willpower) that he never fails, and builds momentum over time.
If you want to improve your CS you need to do both. You need to know how to make robust (or antifragile) plans, and how to break those mission-critical tasks up in such a way that you work towards your own (current) level of industriousness.
Haha thanks man – already got [a girlfriend], we already do some crazy shit so that’s not a problem 😉
This is about more than just sex – if anything, it’s a great entry into adjusting your behaviour and aligning yourself to who you want to be. It’s not about porn so much as it is about exerting your willpower in such a way that you create a lasting, measurable change to yourself.