I have a good question from the group for you today.
First, I want to point out that this brother of ours has some good starts to his self-awareness. He realizes it isn’t the system’s fault and he also realizes that there’s something he’s doing wrong. But he can’t quite make the connection, so he reached out for help, just like I encourage all of you to do. He asked:
I’ve been in a cycle of relapsing about once a week for the last month. Every time I do, I add new barriers that I didn’t know would be issues, so I change things in my daily life to face the last problem. I’ve tried meditation, self-dialogue, different tools from the system, and things like that.
Even though I’m making progress, I still face an intense urge to take a break and look back at something that inevitably leads to relapse. Clearly, something is wrong with my approach because I’m still dealing with it. I feel that I would have to depend on willpower to face this going forward. What are some ways I can use the system to control my urges?
You can tell this brother is still early in his journey. He’s made a lot of progress but he still has a ways to go in terms of controlling his regular relapses. One common thing I see for men at the start of their reboot is this pattern of rewarding progress. What do I mean?
You know you’re making progress in your reboot because you’re journaling. You’re recording daily wins because it helps reinforce the rewiring process. Now, say you’ve been very disciplined for a week or two, then your brain tells you that you deserve a reward for your commitment. This leaves you with the urge to take a break.
For our brother, and maybe for you, too, this means a slip back into his out-of-control behavior. He’s rewarding his discipline by sliding backward which is completely counter-productive. But it does make sense in a way.
Think about someone who has never been a runner but wants to train for a 5K race. They start by alternating walking and running for a few minutes at a time. Eventually, they can run half-miles at a time. After a few weeks, they’re running full miles without stopping.
But some days during their runs, their brain pipes up and says, “Oh man, that’s too much of an effort. I’m not going to be able to run a full mile.” Bear in mind they’ve run a mile before, but their mind comes up with all these excuses for why it can’t happen and why they should take it easy.
They’re still not accustomed to running these longer distances. They know they can do it but they’re so early into the process that they talk themselves out of it. And the same thing applies to our brother’s reboot, and maybe to yours.
He knows he can remain disciplined because he’s done it before, but he convinces himself that his slips are okay. What he needs to do is properly train his mind until he can make it through these rocky periods.
Say something you struggle with is working a full day. Your ability to remain focused and disciplined is little to nothing at the beginning. You might tell yourself you can work two or three hours straight, but if you haven’t trained yourself to do this you’re going to relapse.
Instead of setting out to work hours at a time, break your work into 30- or 45-minute blocks and take a small break. Make sure that break involves doing something healthy such as taking a walk, reading a chapter of a book, meditating, or stretching. Then get back into your work. It’s about managing your energy levels through the day, recognizing that your brain is not where it could optimally be.
Remember, there’s a neurological impact that results from pornography addiction. You’ve given in to the pull of instant gratification time and time again. You’re used to the constant distractions and on-demand dopamine release. And you can’t just cut it out right away on command. You have to rewire everything you’ve spent years developing.
That’s something else I noticed in our brother’s question. He mentioned the need to “win over” his urges. This isn’t a battle to be fought, though. It’s not anything to be won. Winning implies that you’re fighting, and fighting means you’re working against your brain. We work with your brain in the Porn Reboot system and that’s what sets us apart.
You’re going to develop tons of practical tools and skills you can incorporate into your life. For example, the time blocks I talked about above, I make use of in my life today. I break my day down into blocks of time because it’s how I stay productive for long periods. These things I teach in the Porn Reboot program are things I’ve incorporated into my lifestyle over the years.
Rather than fighting these urges, I want you to observe them. I want you to watch what’s taking place and practice cultivating awareness. You don’t need to attach to every thought or feeling that flies through your mind; you are not a victim of your emotions and urges.
Again, though, this doesn’t happen all at once. You’re not going to learn it overnight. It takes time. Be patient with yourself and be patient with the process. Remember that it takes up to 90 days of consistent application to make a successful start. Then it takes a year and a half to two years for your brain to fully rewire.
There are a few basic principles I want you to keep in mind today: progress over perfection and working with your brain, not against it. Be patient with yourself, brother. It’s not a battle but an entire change in your life.