The Stuff that WORKS, and the Stuff that doesn't
Having just celebrated my birthday, and been ashamed of how little I've done and achieved in my life - I've gotten really serious over the past weeks to end my addiction.
Full disclosure, this is also my eighth straight month trying to quit. I haven't been trying my hardest. So, to help everyone out and to get my own thoughts straight, here's a list of things that I'm doing and have done to try to discipline myself during the first week of the reboot. This will probably be more useful to the beginner than to the veteran.
1. Countdown - In my experience, this never works. I used to count down from say, 144 hours to make it easier (I started at 100 days, needless to say it didn't work). Not only do I have the penchant for setting very high goals for myself, counting down in days doesn't help anything at all. Counting down in hours just slows down time and makes you think about PMO more often. Besides, if you have it on a sticky note on your computer, or your phone, that's constantly reminding you of the very thing you are trying to abstain from. The more reminders of how "hard" quitting is, the more likely you are to relapse. I give this a 0 out of 10. Completely useless.
2. Count-forward - Basically the exact opposite of countdown, except this has the same problem, in that time slows down and it's a constant reminder of how hard quitting is. I would say it's a little more useful than countdown, because it's what we all do when we say on this forum "I'm on Day 13, or 2, or something." I would say this gets more useful if you can make it past a week, because by then, you've established a non-PMO routine. Before that routine is established, this technique sucks. Counting forward is torture, especially if it's the only thing you're doing. Don't do it if you're just starting. Focus on other techniques to get you through the day. I give this a 5 out of 10, useful only if you already know what you're doing.
3. Talk therapy/Sponsors/Forum - I'm including therapy sessions, addiction sponsors, and this forum under this category. Overall, a mixed bag. It depends on how you approach this. In my experience, get someone who will be harder on you rather than easier on you. I've noticed a lot of backlash against the negative posts people make about other people's attempts to quit. To that, all I have to say is, if you're posting on this forum, be prepared for harshness. Healing and overcoming addiction ain't some tiptoe through the tulips, it's hard and it sucks. You don't need another mother, you need a drill sergeant. Feeling sorry for yourself doesn't get you anywhere, in fact, it's just another way your own brain tries to trick itself into PMO'ing again. I think a therapist is not particularly helpful, not only because you have to pay, but also because they'll constantly remind you of how hard it is. This forum is better - for some reason shame doesn't trigger when I talk about it here, and make no mistake, shame is a trigger. When you do it right, talking here and in person is great - don't make it too often, just enough to keep you motivated. I give it a 6/10, because you can't get someone who won't be tough with you.
4. Exercise - I cannot emphasize this enough. Exercise is absolutely necessary for getting beyond even the first day. Specifically, I'd say aerobic is much better - but maybe that's just me. If you're like me, and urges hit you in the morning, exercise in the morning. Even if the extent of what you can do is a brisk walk (whether because of time or lack of athleticism), do it. It can NEVER hurt. There's been a couple posts here about too much exercise, but I'd say unless you've got some kind of heart arrhythmia, this is a bullshit excuse. It's like saying you don't want to lift weights because you don't want to become musclebound like Arnold or Randy Couture. One more thing: If you don't like aerobic, join a 10K training team and run with them in the early mornings. Having people around to motivate you to keep up is a great thing. I give this a 10/10, as in, you absolutely can't do without it.
Note: I take (Gracie) Jiu-Jitsu classes. I started about a month ago, and to quote Fight Club, my "ass was a wod of cookie dough, but after a month, it's carved out of wood." Having an exercise routine that involves pain and soreness like jiu-jitsu takes all desire for manual stimulation out of you.
5. Peeing - This is a strange one. I've found, during relapses, or almost-relapses, that peeing immediately reduces the urgency of whatever you're feeling. So even if you've been edging, a little, take a one minute break and pee. I guarantee you, it works. It takes the edge off. Suddenly, you'll be able to think again and you won't have the PMO tunnel vision/fog that prevents you from focusing on anything. Maybe this one is just me, but it works consistently. I give it an 8/10.
7. Going out - What I call "giving yourself alternatives." When I first tried to quit, I thought I wouldn't go out for a long time so I could recover. What I discovered was exactly the opposite. Yes, going out and hitting on girls when you have porn-induced ED is an emasculating, awful experience. But the point is, you're pointing out to yourself what you're missing. And most of the time, when I'm out and talking to girls, I'm not thinking about getting inside of them, but about what it would be like to be with them, near them, to hear them laugh and smile at you and sensitive shit like that. Emotionally resonant stuff. Some people may disagree, that the anger/shame of not being able to get with girls at bars/parties/etc. makes you relapse, but I've found I need it to remind myself of why this is important beyond simply controlling my base instincts. Give yourself alternatives, even if they're future alternatives. Who knows, you may even meet a girl that makes all the pain worthwhile. I've found that I've started liking girls a lot more since I've started to do this. One piece of advice: don't drink too much while you do this. Drinking leads to more intense feelings of shame/anger when you don't hook up with these girls, which can trigger a relapse. I give this a 6/10, since I'm not sure it applies to everyone.
8. Getting organized - The main thing to do if you want to stop fantasizing is to get organized and get busy. No free time twiddling your thumbs in your room means no time to convince yourself to PMO. In other words, don't stagnate and hang around. First off, get enough sleep. This doesn't mean sleep for 10 hours. Sleep for 6-8. Before you go to sleep, make a to-do list of all the things you want to do tomorrow, including leisure activities. This has helped me immensely. When I wake up, I don't want to think about all the things I have/want to do that day, so do it the night before. Don't give yourself only 3-5 things to do either. Make it a respectably-sized list. I find I can usually do about 14 things on my list per day (writing emails, picking up dry-cleaning, finding a new pool to swim in after Labor Day, picking up groceries, etc). Also, find a place to do your work on the computer that's NOT at home. Try the library, or a Starbucks. I give this a 9/10, because it does have a learning curve as you get more efficient with your time, but again, it's basically entirely necessary if you want to get through the first few weeks of your reboot.
9. Getting a job - This is a variation on getting organized, and getting busy. I have two jobs - an unpaid internship I'm hoping will lead to a paying job, and as a host at a restaurant where I get $10 an hour for tasks a trained monkey could do. This is time you're not spending in your room/bathroom wherever, jacking it. No job is beneath you. Stop feeling you're too smart for a lot of things and get out there and do something, you may learn a thing or two. I give this a 10/10 , because trying to do this while you're hanging around your parent's house all day is impossible.
10. Internet blocking - This is one of those "duh" ones. There are so many ways to rationalize not blocking inappropriate content on your computer. I've told all of them to myself many times. This takes longer to perfect than you might think, because you underestimate how clever you are to solve this problem. You might, for instance, switch to your phone, or just get a temporary password to change the settings. Get someone to keep your password for you, AND be the email for changing said password. If you're really hardcore, k9 has an option to send the admin reports of your activity - so no proxy servers. Again, works best if you have a person you can trust and who isn't going too easy on you. This is absolutely necessary, and even though I've heard a lot of people complain about how annoying it is - here's what you have to do. Make ABSOLUTELY SURE that your blocker does not block secure traffic, aka "https" otherwise, you might as well not even have internet. This is an obvious 10/10, completely necessary.
Wow, that was long. What are some techniques you guys use?