This is a guest post by Apostol, creator of SlaveToHero, a website dedicated to helping men heal from porn addiction.
Relapsing. That’s one of the major problems that everyone faces while trying to stop porn. Pardon me. It’s not A major – it’s THE Problem that’s stopping everybody from quitting porn. After all – if you stopped relapsing you’ve effectively stopped using porn altogether.
On the other hand – we’re all intuitively accepting relapsing as a problem and a negative thing. “I really tried to stop porn but I relapsed – therefore I’m a failure!” But if you think a little bit deeper into the understanding of what relapsing is – we’ll find out that relapsing actually became a “thing” only when we decided to stop using porn. Before that we had no concept of “relapsing” at all.
But why do we accept it as a negative? Why do we start feeling bad about ourselves when we relapse? Why do we start feeling that guilt, shame and helplessness?
Because we don’t understand it and we have unreasonable expectations about ourselves and the whole process of recovery. You see – relapsing can not be a problem if you think about it as a part of the solution. The fact is – if you really have porn addiction and you’ve had it for a long while(if you’re like me – for years) – you won’t be able to stop it all at once. Chances are that the brain circuits that make you unconsciously want to watch porn have developed for a long while and have become so strong that you won’t be able to weaken them all at once. So maybe – just maybe – relapsing is not the problem that you think it is – but it’s more a part of the solution – it’s part of the healing process. So my tactic no.1…
Accept Relapsing as part of the process
Relapsing is part of the process towards recovery. Just accept that and don’t feel bad about it. That doesn’t mean that relapsing is a good thing. It merely means that we should not focus on it as being bad. Don’t feel bad and shameful that you relapsed. Instead of that – focus on how many days you did without porn before that. How many more days would you do next time? What would you do different this time? That leads me to the second tactic.
Understand why you relapsed at all
Understanding yourself and your life is a big step towards recovery. So after you relapsed – try to understand what happened. What led you to relapsing? What happened between your last relapse and the current one? How many days? What events did occur? What was your daily routine at that time? How could you change that routine to avoid relapsing in the future?
While we’re talking about the daily routine let’s look at some of the things that you could include in it to make relapsing more and more rare
It doesn’t matter if you get some weights at home, get a gym membership, start doing cross-fit, start playing tennis or start jogging. Including exercise in your routine is essential to build a better looking body, be healthier and more attractive to women. And it’s actually not so hard to do – you don’t have to become a pumped up fitness maniac. What I did was actually to buy a pair of dumbbells and set aside 20 min a day to exercise with them. I don’t have large muscles but I feel great inside my body. There’s also a lot of online info about exercising so search on! NerdFitness.com is a great website if you’re more introverted or you don’t know where to start. The bottom line is – do whatever it fits you best as long it’s something that creates both muscles and confidence in yourself.
Start eating healthier
I know I know. Everyone wants to eat tasty food and that broccoli is not-exactly-tasty. But the fact is that certain types of food can also be addictive. There are actually some studies that show sugar and fat can influence the dopamine receptors in the brain making you crave them more and more and making other – otherwise pleasurable activities – less and less appealing. Including more vegetables and wholegrain foods in your diet will help you reduce your weight, making you more attractive, more healthy and may even improve your mood. I myself am a vegetarian for more than 3 years and feel great about it, but I understand that’s not for everyone. So if you don’t want to – don’t stop eating your favorite foods – just start increasing the amount of healthy foods you eat beside the unhealthy ones and be mindful about it. Changing your diet a little bit can be a great way to improve your overall health and wellness.
Start taking cold showers
I found the cold shower therapy a few years ago and have been doing it ever since. It’s one of the best tools to visualize your comfort zone in the physical world. It’s also one of the best ways to train yourself of getting out of your comfort zone trap and start doing the things that you always wanted to do and being the person you aspire being. The whole idea is that you can’t do anything extraordinary in this world if you don’t go out of your comfort zone. You can’t do anything exceptional if you don’t start being comfortable in being uncomfortable. That’s the whole idea when taking cold showers (and leaving porn) – leave the comfortability behind and do what you really want in this life – however hard and uncomfortable it might be.
Delete your porn collection
Well that seems obvious – when you want to quit porn you should delete your porn collection. But we don’t think of doing it. As tblueflash777 says
“I just hit my one month streak and I realized that I seemed to be hanging onto my video library without much reason…almost like my brain LIKED the idea that I could defect at any time.”
So – don’t hesitate – hit that DELETE button and don’t look back. The collection was a part of your old self that you don’t actually need anymore. What do you really need? Real life women to talk to, to laugh with and to make love to. That said – the next tactic is
Start talking to real women
If you’re not married or have a girlfriend while you’re addicted to porn – chances are you don’t get much sex in your life. To be able to change that you need to start feeling more comfortable with talking and being around real women. You need to stop objectifying them and accept them as real human beings with wants and needs just like us. Being comfortable around women shouldn’t be that big fancy thing that you do. It could be as simple as talking to the girl next door as OlympicRunner did
“So there is this girl next door same age as me (19) in the university student residence. I for some reason took tea and cookies and knocked on her door. Took a lot really. She smiled, let me in, and we talked and laughed for about an hour. Great experience.
Enjoying the simple positive changes in my life.”
The idea is – take the chance if it presents itself and find the courage to overcome your fear of women. A great resource on how to to attract women through honesty is the book “Models” by Mark Manson. Check out what this man had to say about it
“The things in this book worked way better for me than regular ‘pick-up’ advice. Basically it’s about being honest to yourself, acting on how you feel and what you want, taking chances and being vulnerable. I’m now dating an amazing girl because of it.”
That sounds like a great thing to learn and a great place to be in. Wouldn’t you want to be in it yourself?
Relapsing in it’s essence can be both a positive and a negative thing. What it is depends on the way we perceive it. We can feel bad about it and try to control it or we can feel good about it and integrate it as a part of the process. Hell why not even step one step further and make it a marker for your progress of leaving porn and changing your life for good? A marker that makes you stop and analyze the situation. A marker that makes you think long and hard about what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong in your life.
A marker that transforms the whole experience of porn addiction from the powerless, weak and regretful state that we all experienced into the tool and framework of “What should I change next in my life to go further down the path of my dream life”
Apostol had a nearly 20 year long relationship with porn (discovered it at the age of 10). A year ago he realized how porn was hurting him and discovered that it was not that easy to quit. In his journey towards quitting porn he understood that when we develop an addiction – we do it to escape the otherwise unbearable situation of our life – loneliness, poor physical health, alienation, lack of purpose. He understood that to successfully quit porn you’d ideally start from changing all the behaviours that led you to crave it – starting to take care of you own body, your own mind and your own life. Recently he created the website slavetohero.com in order to help other men take control of their life and find their purpose.