A brother in the Porn Reboot group posed an important question the other day:
“What do I do when I lose one of my coping strategies?”
This particular man was referring to going to the gym. He has a potential surgery coming up with a recovery period that could keep him from working out for 2 to 3 months. His reboot relies heavily on his getting exercise so he wanted to know how to deal with the loss of this coping strategy.
I know he’s not alone in that experience. Working out plays a critical role in a lot of our reboots. I have a regimen I have in the gym that’s crucial for my reboot, too. No matter how crucial a role each strategy plays, though, it can’t be the only strategy you have.
An effective approach to rebooting involves multiple strategies and tactics that make up your reboot system. You never know when something will come up that might take one of your coping strategies away.
Successful rebooters are always willing to adapt to changes in life. You must have another skill lined up to replace the old one if you don’t want to slip back into your old behaviors. If you’re not willing to challenge your beliefs and find alternatives, you’re inevitably going to relapse. And that relapse is going to be 100% your responsibility.
It’s not your inability to go to the gym. It’s not your busy schedule or your partner or your family. Your ability to end your behavior is always going to be at risk if you make some specific external activity a requirement. You have to take responsibility for your reboot and be ready to adapt to whatever life throws at you if you plan to be successful in the long run.
The ultimate goal of any reboot strategy is rewiring your brain. You’re implementing all of these different strategies that add up and create behavioral changes over time. The external activities aren’t the end goal in and of themselves: they are merely tools that make the rewiring possible.
The gym has been a big struggle for most men in the program with the sporadic closures over this last year. Yet there are still plenty of us who haven’t experienced a slip or a relapse as a result. Everyone who managed to make it through without relapsing learned how to adapt to the situation at hand and make use of what they have available.
Developing a sense of gratitude is going to help you if you find you’ve lost a coping strategy. There is always something to be grateful for even in the midst of some of the darkest situations you can imagine. It might sound cliché to recommend that you count your blessings but it’s a good thing to keep in mind when you need to adjust course.
Another great way to cope with losing a strategy is to reframe your outlook on it. Instead of feeling like you’re getting the short end of the stick for not being able to go to the gym, look at it differently. Open yourself up to new possibilities and experiences. Consider how much time you’re freeing up with this lost coping strategy and direct it into a new avenue.
The loss of a coping strategy might mean you gain something new you never imagined yourself doing. You never know what might come from trying new things. It reminds me of something I wrote in one of my old journals at the very beginning of my reboot:
“Sometimes I think there’s a big stone stuck in my shoe. Like when I go to the beach and it feels like I’ve got an annoying rock trapped underneath my foot. I’ll try to ignore it for some time but eventually, I can’t take it anymore. When I finally take my shoe off and shake it out, though, I realize it’s only a tiny grain of sand.
“These things I make a massive deal out of are sometimes not as big of a deal as I think they are. Situations aren’t always going to go the way I think they should but sometimes I find that it’s not as terrible as I imagined it would be. There’s always a way to stop, adjust course, and keep moving forward.”
You can have the same experience, brother. No matter what happens, whatever coping strategy you might have lost, you can keep moving forward and remain successful in your reboot, too.