If you’ve read our blog for a while you’ll know this isn’t the first time I’ve written about the stages of the Porn Reboot system.
I like to cover the topic often, because it’s something that men ask a lot of questions about. Many brothers want to know which stage of their reboot they’re in and when they pass from one stage to the next.
We’ve had some changes in the system since I last wrote about the Porn Reboot stages so it’s time for an update. A few days ago I wrote about the first three stages of the porn addiction counseling – Porn Reboot system. Today I’m going to write about Stage Four and Stage Five.
Stage Three: Middle Reboot
You reach Stage Three once you’ve committed to the process of long-term rebooting. You’re starting to overcome the lack of motivation, distraction, negativity, and impatience that arose when you first experienced withdrawals. You may not notice any immediate results but are willing to stick with the system for the long run.
Porn addiction and compulsive sexual behavior shrink your life down to a very small, isolated existence. You’re not as concerned with things like going to the gym, having an active social life, or connecting with your spirituality. You neglect and abandon these different areas of your life as your compulsive behaviors take over.
Now that the Pre-Reboot and Early Reboot stages set your healthy habits firmly in place you can shift your attention to your lifestyle. You can focus most of your time and energy on your mindset and behaviors. Stage Three is when you start to build these forgotten but crucial areas of your life back up.
The Middle Reboot stage is also when you begin to develop a new identity. Since you’re not as consumed by porn addiction problems and masturbation, you have time to engage in activities that you enjoy. You no longer see yourself as hopeless or too far gone; you finally see that you have a chance to eliminate and overcome your compulsive behavior.
Skills you need to develop during Stage Three include increased awareness and not taking your reboot for granted. The second one is especially important because you’re starting to make progress now that you’re maintaining a consistent routine. This progress may lead you to believe that you can let off the gas a bit, but doing so will put you in the headspace for a relapse.
One of the significant dangers at this stage of your reboot is the feeling of being stuck. At this point some men find themselves overwhelmed with guilt that keeps them from taking further action. The guilt stems from remembering the things they have done, behaviors they engaged in, or people they have hurt.
The overwhelming guilt is something that most men experience at one point or another during Stage Three. If you experience it during the Middle Reboot stage you’re far from alone. This is why it’s so important to have a guide that’s been through the process before you. You have someone who can walk you through these challenging emotions that begin to arise.
Another danger of Stage Three is finding yourself distracted by other self-improvement strategies. Now that you’re no longer acting out you may feel the need to look in other areas for additional paths to improvement. While there’s nothing wrong with finding complementary approaches, you want to make sure that nothing takes precedence over your reboot.
Stage Four: Late Reboot
One of the major parts of Stage Four is addressing and working through the problems that brought you to porn addiction recovery in the first place. Stages One through Three keep most of the focus on you from overcoming your behavior to setting your new habits firmly in place.
The Late Reboot stage is when you can begin to tackle these external circumstances. Maybe you’re a man who is separated from your wife because of your behavior. You might not have the right to see your children because of your behavior. Perhaps you’re a single guy who’s avoided dating due to your porn-induced erectile dysfunction.
Whatever your particular circumstances are, Stage Four is when we start working through these. Part of this process involves changing your self-image and learning to develop true intimacy. You’ll only develop stronger relationships with healthy intimacy once you feel comfortable with yourself.
The skills you’ll build during the Late Reboot stage are self-trust, relationship skills, learning to live with pain, and asking people to meet your needs. Most men in the program never learned how to do these things because we shied away from the discomfort and sunk into our compulsive behaviors to self-medicate. However, each of these is a critical component of establishing strong relationships with people in your life.
Dangers of Stage Four include the fear of venturing into the unknown. You’re in situations that you’ve either never experienced or haven’t been in in years. You will feel worried about making a mistake or making the wrong decisions. This is a normal part of the process but allowing these fears and worries to completely consume you puts you at the risk of a relapse.
Another danger of this stage is the belief that you have no control over your life. Stages One through Three were about setting new habits in place. Now that you operate in the confines of these new routines, you’ll find there are certain things you can’t do anymore. Recognize that things like staying out late, binge drinking, or sleeping in aren’t the most conducive activities to building the life you want. You might slip if you allow resentment to take over instead.
The biggest danger of the Late Reboot stage is letting your attention stray from your reboot. Everything you’ve done up to this point, your routine, learning skills, and building reboot capital, all of it is necessary to be successful. If you neglect to keep working on these things, relapse is inevitable. No matter what happens in your life, keep your reboot the primary focus and everything else will work itself out.
Stage Five: Maintenance Stage
Stage Five is the Maintenance Stage. At this point your routine is in place, you’ve developed the skills you need, your relationships are stronger than ever before. You’ve built up a good amount of reboot capital, feel better about yourself, and are in the process of mending the situations that brought you to your breaking point.
Your focus during the Maintenance State is fixing the long-term neurological damage caused by your porn addiction and compulsive behavior. This is the stage where the true rewiring of your brain takes place. You’re removing old thought patterns that took years to establish and replacing them with newer, healthier patterns.
The goals in the Maintenance Stage are further growth and development. This is where you learn how to sustain your emotional control. When you deal with highly stressful situations that most normal people would crack under, you’re reaching a point where they no longer phase you.
You’ll come up against situations that you would have medicated with porn and masturbation in the past but realize that you don’t even consider these behaviors an option anymore. Pornography isn’t something you think of using to combat discomfort; you’ve learned to face and handle situations without hiding.
Stage Five is when you begin experiencing long periods of happiness, joy, and contentment that last. This is an important distinction: you’re no longer chasing short stints of false happiness through dopamine release; you’re now in a place where happiness is your state of being.
Sure, life will still happen. You’re going to have moments where you’re upset or angry, but these feelings are temporary now. They don’t consume you the way they used to in the past. You return to your state of contentment and peace without needing to act out on your compulsive behavior.
Overconfidence and complacency are the two most dangerous threats to Stage Five. While you no longer necessarily need the Porn Recovery Program once you’re at this stage, taking it easy is not an option. Being in the Maintenance Stage doesn’t mean you’re “healed” or “cured.” It means exactly what it says, that you need to maintain your success through continued action.
Overconfidence will have you thinking that you’ve got this, that maybe you were making a big deal out of nothing. You might convince yourself that you can go back to your old stomping grounds or spend time with buddies from before. Getting into this mindset is a slippery slope that will put you on a path to relapse faster than you realize.
There is never a time where you’ll be able to watch porn “normally”, brother. Even when you’re in the Maintenance Stage and no longer need the Porn Reboot program, you must remember what brought you to this program in the first place. You were crushed by a crisis you couldn’t overcome alone. Don’t take yourself back to that space. Stay the course and continue forward in this beautiful life that you’ve built back up.
Finding Support at Every Stage
The Porn Reboot program consists of two groups: the paid intensive group and the free Facebook group. If you’re new to the porn addiction recovery program and wondering whether the intensive is right for you, come check us out on Facebook. We’re a strong group of men in varying stages of our reboots and ready to offer support wherever you might be in yours.
You never need to handle your reboot alone, brother. Join us and find yourself immediately surrounded by a group of brothers who understand your struggle and are actively working to overcome their behaviors. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Stage One or Stage Five; there’s a place for you among us.