I have another question from a brother I want to bring to you today. He said,
“From what I understand, one of the goals of our middle reboot is to eventually cultivate a brand new sense of identity and embrace our new porn-free life. I believe that I’m still in this stage. However, do you ever look back at your past with strong emotions like pity or resentment for how you used to be? I’m having trouble reaching a place of compassion for how I used to be because today I see it as wildly repulsive and against my values.”
After talking with men for over a decade about overcoming their out-of-control behavior, I know how common this feeling is. Most men feel repulsed by their past selves at various points during their reboot. As you move further away from the man you once were, it’s normal to almost feel bad for that person.
No man wants to return to that dark and evil place from the past. It makes sense to think that way. But you’ll probably be surprised to hear that I don’t support looking at it this way at all. There’s some part of us that wants to see our past selves as evil people.
In reality, though, that was never your intention. You didn’t set out to become an isolated, self-loathing man addicted to pornography and masturbation. That wasn’t your plan when you first stumbled upon a porn film or experienced an orgasm. You only wanted to feel that sense of pleasure and relief. Unfortunately, you chased that feeling for too long and reached a point where you lost control of your behavior.
Still, no matter what you did, that wasn’t what you set out to do. You aren’t the horrible person you believe yourself to be. And I think chastising yourself in this manner only serves to harm you, not help you. It does not make your reboot any easier.
You also needed that person to become who you are today. I don’t hate the old J.K. because if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I needed the darkness, the repulsive thoughts, and the abhorrent behavior to help the men that I get to help each day of my life now.
Shame and guilt are two very corrosive feelings. They are why you find yourself feeling the way you do about the past version of you. When you feel shame or guilt about the things you watched, places you went, or experiences you had, it makes you want to deny your old self.
You can’t brand the person you were in the past as evil and still think that you’ll become a good person in the future. If you do that, you’ll always want to keep your past hidden and suppressed. It will be the dirty secret you keep from the world, but how is that any different than when you were trapped in the cycle of your out-of-control behavior?
I’m not suggesting that you lead with the fact that you’re a porn addict. You don’t need to tell everyone you meet that you struggled with compulsive porn use and masturbation. But you also don’t need to hide from it either. You may find yourself in a position to help another man dealing with the same problem. But if you’re too busy engulfed in shame, you won’t use your experience to help him escape the cycle.
It might seem impossible to reach that place at times, especially when you first start in the Porn Reboot program. I’ve talked with hundreds of men and heard their deepest, darkest secrets. These are things they swore never to tell another soul because we know the black depths we can sink into during our pornography addictions.
Then after a few months of implementing the Porn Addiction Recovery – Reboot system, I get to see these same men learn to love themselves despite their past. They embrace their flaws and accept the things they used to do instead of fighting against the reality of it. There is nothing more empowering than watching a man reclaim his life instead of letting his past life claim him.
Men come to the Porn Reboot program and learn to develop a set of standards and values that work for them. You don’t come here and adopt every thought, action, and behavior that I tell you to; you become empowered to find that truth for yourself. No one knows you better than you. The system equips you with the tools to determine what is right for you and to develop the confidence to stand on that deep sense of self-understanding without needing approval from anyone else.
I don’t leave you to figure it out all on your own, though. The Porn Reboot system includes tools you can use to embrace your past self. Self-compassion is a revolutionary approach that empowers you to view the old version of yourself with love and tolerance, not pity and hatred. Accepting your past is the only way to move forward in life, otherwise, your old behavior will still control you, even after you leave porn behind.
It’s an exciting thing to witness and I truly feel grateful for the experience. Selfishly, what I do makes my life worth it because I get a front-row seat to watch men overcome something I know the pain of struggling with. I never imagined I could overcome my pornography addiction and neither do many of the brothers I talk with every single day. But here we are years later living lives we only dreamed of.
When you have moments where you hate your past, brother, trust that it’s part of the process. We were all there at one point. As you learn to forgive yourself, though, you’ll find a new, beautiful life growing before your eyes. It takes time, work, determination, and dedication, but you’re now part of hundreds of men who have done and continue to do the same. It’s an incredible thing to experience, brother, and I can’t wait to see what you do.