I most often talk about rebooting in terms of rewiring your brain.
You have to rewire your brain if you want to be successful in your reboot. But pornography addiction affects far more than your brain chemistry and thought processes alone. Rebooting includes hitting the reset button on all the aspects of your life that your out-of-control sexual behavior affected.
Today I want to cover the ten attributes you need to be successful in your reboot. I’ve covered these things before but this list is a bit different than usual. I put it together because I often have a lot of men ask me how to determine whether they’re making progress in their reboot. They aren’t sure when they cross from early stages into later stages. They’re looking for changes to mark their progress by. So today I want to give that to you.
1. Values and Standards
Determining your values and standards is the first requirement for a successful reboot. You might think you have them already, but are they set in stone? Do you have them written down? Do you know what you’re willing to sacrifice for them? What are you willing to give up to adhere to your values and standards?
Think about it. When you experienced strong urges in the past, your values and standards would shift to accommodate whatever urges arose. They changed according to the circumstances that came up. The only values and standards you had up to this point were those that fulfilled your need for instant gratification. You need to have a solid understanding of your values and standards before you can ever be successful in your reboot.
2. Strong Boundaries
People often think about setting boundaries in terms of other people. They think it’s placing limits on who you spend time with or how you allow people to treat you. While this is an accurate understanding of boundaries, they also encompass more than that. You must set boundaries not only with the people you hang out with but with the places you go or activities you participate in.
Let’s say you’re an individual who often relapses when you smoke weed or drink alcohol. There’s a very real possibility you may have to give up marijuana or alcohol if you want your reboot to be successful. But if you refuse to give these things up and set strong boundaries, you remain stuck in the reboot and relapse cycle until you’re ready.
The next thing you need to be successful in your reboot is awareness. Not only self-awareness but a general awareness of both your emotions and feelings as well as the science behind this behavior. You should have emotional and intellectual awareness regarding your behavior with pornography. You also need a basic understanding of psychology, of things like trauma, unresolved issues, abandonment, and neglect.
This awareness allows you to simultaneously understand that your feelings and emotions are not only a result of things happening at the surface, but they’re also the result of neurochemical reactions in your brain. Having a deeper understanding and awareness of what’s going on in your brain makes it easier to deal with things as they arise.
Accountability is a crucial part of every successful reboot. You can’t reboot in a vacuum; you need input from other men who have been where you are. Lots of men point to a lack of accountability when dissecting what happened before they relapsed. Avoid this pitfall by finding accountability partners early and stay in contact with them.
At the same time, you also need to be accountable to yourself. You’re a grown man. You shouldn’t have to rely on another grown man to remind you that your behavior is out of control. It’s good to have accountability partners to lean on when times are tough but at the end of the day, your ultimate goal is to be accountable to yourself.
I view self-discipline as having the ability to restrain and repress your instincts in favor of doing things that are beneficial to you in the long run. When you start your reboot, you’re going to have an extreme lack of self-discipline. You’ve operated on the principle of instant gratification for years.
Your pornography use and compulsive sexual behavior damaged your prefrontal cortex. Over time you’re going to have to develop self-discipline. You don’t have to stress out about it, though. It will happen naturally as you follow the system and your brain rewires.
Patience doesn’t come easily to men who constantly succumb to instant gratification. If you want to be successful, though, you need to develop patience. You’re not going to feel a massive sudden shift. There are no quick fixes for pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. It takes time to reboot.
Sure, you can change some of your habits and lay a solid foundation in 90 days. But you won’t rewire your brain or change your entire lifestyle in that short period. It takes more than a year to create lasting change. You must be patient if you want to be successful in your reboot.
Every man comes into the Porn Reboot program with preconceived notions. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is; everyone has a set of assumptions and ideas they need to break down. You have to be willing to let go of some of your false beliefs about what recovery should be.
There is no one path to recovery. As you go through your reboot, you’ll be exposed to things other than the Porn Reboot system. There are plenty of useful resources outside of our system that may help you along the way. Remain open-minded to alternatives while still understanding the need to stick to a system that works for you.
Porn addicts are liars. I don’t care who you are or how honest you believe yourself to be. Every porn addict is a liar. The act of hiding your behavior itself is a lie. Pornography addiction and compulsive behavior come with a lot of shame and guilt. So overcoming these behaviors means you must learn to be honest.
Even after you’ve gained control over your sexual behavior, you probably still have a tendency to lie. You must learn to tell the truth if you want to be successful in your reboot, not only to others but most importantly to yourself.
There is nothing loving about pornography. Even the love involved in some of the fake storylines is empty. Pornography lacks intimacy and connection. Over time, consuming lots of porn, especially aggressive or violent porn, kills the love you have for your fellow human beings. How can you watch people being hurt then go tuck your kid into bed or tell your partner you love them?
Building up your capacity to love again is vital for a successful reboot. It won’t happen all at once. It needs to be worked on. It’s easier to work on when you come out of isolation, start speaking to others again, and connect with a community of people where love is already present, such as the Porn Reboot Facebook group.
All kinds of things will happen during your reboot. Life doesn’t take a pause because you decided to end your behavior with pornography. There will be ups and downs along the journey to controlling your behavior and rewiring your brain. You will have rough days, you’ll feel insulted, you’re going to reach breaking points at times. You must learn to get through these things without turning back to pornography.
Learning to be stoic is an incredible gift. It means you observe what’s happening in life without attaching to the events or assigning emotional meaning to them. You develop a calm within you as you face the world around you. I’m not suggesting that you have to become a perfect being of enlightenment but honing this quality will make you more successful in your reboot.
Determining Your Reboot Progress
How many of these attributes can you say you have? Maybe you’re successful with a few of them and are working your way toward the others. Write this list down and store it somewhere you can see it. It provides a good gauge for how you’re doing in your reboot and which areas you need to continue working on.
Rebooting is an ongoing process. There is no “end point”. A successful rebooter never ends his quest to better himself and the world around him. So where are you at in your reboot?