So you’ve read and implemented my advice about finding a replacement habit and using that to reprogram your habit cycle. And it works, some of the time. But it’s not foolproof, and it’s not easy.
I’ve been studying and experimenting with habit change for some time now. I know what works well and what doesn’t.
If you’re a human being and not a robot, you probably find it incredibly difficult to do your replacement habit on a consistent basis when you’re first starting off. Well, from my own recent experiments and reading on habit change, I think I’ve figured out how to make it easier on you to solidify your replacement habit.
Until a few months ago, I’ve been focusing on the intrinsic rewards of the replacement habit. For example, lets say that the reward you get from PMO (porn-masturbation-orgasm) is physical excitement. So you decide to make push-ups your replacement habit, because it gives you a physical reward (endorphins, dopamine), thus completing the habit loop.
But then sometimes things don’t go smoothly and as you planned. You find that you don’t feel all that motivated to do push-ups each time you get a craving to PMO. What do you do then?
The Old Way: Brute Willpower
What I used to do in this situation was to just use “brute willpower” to make myself do the push-ups. I would just basically yell at myself internally until I finally did it. And the physical craving would be satisfied. But this takes a huge amount of willpower, and some of us just starting out with improving ourselves don’t have access to enough of it to constantly deal with the cravings. And as Kelly McGonigal points out in the great book, The Willpower Instinct , willpower is a finite resource within us. So once you’ve exhausted that resource, it’s like your defenses are down.