[Explanation] Why is a good journal virtually priceless on this journey?

Discussion in 'Porn Addiction Recovery' started by TheTraveller, May 15, 2017.

  1. TheTraveller

    TheTraveller Fapstronaut

    (While I am sure that there is already a lot of resources on this topic, this is merely a concentration of my thoughts on this subject that I hope someone might find useful).

    1. An Introduction
    A lot of members keep their own reboot journals during their abstinence journeys, which vary a lot in terms of:
    a) the level of detail and
    b) the frequency of writing.
    In the following paragraphs, I will focus on what, in my opinion, would constitute a good journal and why would you want to have a good journal in the first place.

    2. The reasons for writing a journal
    A journal is a written account of your life and as such, it is the most valuable in retrospective, i.e. when you are trying to remember what your life was like. To be useful in this respect it has to include a certain amount of detail.

    Our memory has only limited capabilities. While we can remember facts and information with a good degree of accuracy, we generally tend to forget about our everyday physical, mental and emotional states.

    In respect to this latter aspect, one of the problems is that we quickly get used to the circumstances which define our everyday mood and then take this mood as the norm.

    An example:
    A person takes up a high-stress office job. Initially, they can recognize the stress that this job brings, but eventually, they get so used to this new state of being, that they take it as the new normal (although, it is definitely not normal in itself, not to mention that it is a possible cause for a whole list of diseases).

    (I used to work in a holiday resort in Central America, and we had a lot of Americans passing through on their holidays. I had met several people who had busy and stressful office jobs, who couldn't get used to the calm and serene environment at all. They themselves could not get calm easily or stay calm. They were constantly on edge. This, in my opinion, is NOT healthy.)

    Why is this important? When we start our NoFap journeys, we, hopefully, tend to get better. On this path, we start taking our new state of being (i.e. more active, energetic, etc.) as the new norm and we forget about our old selves.
    Thus, when you have a bad day, you might still objectively have a better day than any other day in your "previous life,"
    BUT, because you started taking your "new life" as the norm, you might feel like you feel terrible.

    This is when an old journal becomes very useful. It can quickly remind you of what was your previous normal and you can compare it to how you feel now.

    3. So, how to write a good journal that can also be useful?
    "Another day has passed" simply isn't a journal entry that would help you remember what your life was like a few months ago.

    While "today was a good day" is not massively more informative, it still serves as a subjective grade of your state. If all you would write every day was one line saying "today was good / neutral / bad day" this would, over time, give you some idea of how you are, by comparing the amounts of good days, neutral days and bad days.

    While subjective accounts of your days are a good way of keeping track, they are still subject to what you currently accept as the "normal."

    Person A, whose days are terrible, might easily mark a slightly less terrible day as "good".
    Person B whose days are great, might easily mark a slightly less great day as "bad."
    However, an outside observer could easily determine, that Person B's day was far better than that of Person A, regardless of their own grading.

    The way to avoid this problem is by actively listing objective and measurable data that could indicate your general state. Some examples could be:
    - Hours of sleep
    - Bowel movements (normal, diarrhea, constipation)
    - Pulse
    - Blood pressure
    - The amount of focused exercise / work / studying, ...

    All of these constitute the type of information that could over time give you an objective idea of your state of health, or otherwise.

    However, a good journal should include both,
    a) the measurable, objective information, and
    b) the subjective accounts on your general mood.

    This is, in my opinion, the best journal that can serve as a reminder of the past.
    If I would only write "days seem short" this would only mean something relevant if I would also write "I'm sleeping 14 hours per day." While subjective information may be interesting, it is only the objective information that gives you a concrete, descriptive, undeniable and unquestionable insight into your past states.

    Returning to the previous example with Person A and Person B: what if they were both the same person? Say the Person A is before starting NoFap, and Person B is the same person after doing it for a while? If that was that person's journal, he or she could easily think that their days were far better while they were still watching porn. Although it is clearly not true, a poorly written journal might make it look like it is.

    Lastly, it is important to develop a habit of writing a journal every day. While for some this goes without saying, it is not immediately obvious. If you don't, it's easy to skip a day. Then it gets easier to skip two. Then a week passes, and eventually, a week turns into a month. Time flies when we are not paying attention.
    The only way that a journal gives you a very good insight into your daily life, is by writing it daily.

    4. Journal is not an AP (accountability partner)
    It is great, because, in the forum form, our journal can also attract other people who share their insights and thus a journal can work as an AP, but in reality, it is not. It is not someone that you can rely on to help you in emergency. There is no guarantee that people will reply to your thread in the times of need.

    Following the case that I am trying to make here, is that a journal can be the most useful exclusively to the person writing it as an aid for remembering what was their past state of being. It cannot function as an AP.

    Don't be afraid. Find your own AP. It is difficult because it is a highly personal and often secretive problem, so you don't want to share it with other people, but remember, your AP has suffered from the exactly the same problem.

    5. A conclusion
    Keep a journal
    (either on NoFap or elsewhere) that will serve as a reminder of what your life used to be like. We are all unique and our lives constantly change, which is why we tend to forget how we felt in the past and get too quickly used to our new present states. What means bad today, might have meant good in the past and vice versa.
    Write both objective and subjective information daily. Objective information is an absolute measure of your present state and subjective information is how you interpret it. When your days are dull, it might feel like sleeping 14 hours per day is amazing, but when your days are exciting, 7 hours of sleep might almost feel too much.
    Don't mix a journal for an AP. Connecting with other people can be of a great benefit on your way to recovery, but don't mix this with replies you get in your journal. Your journal is your own. While the insights you write might help other people on their journey, it will always be the most useful only to you.

    I hope this helps!
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
    sparkywantsnoPMO likes this.
  2. ethan.s

    ethan.s Fapstronaut

    Excellent information, you've made some astute points about writing a journal. Even before starting noFap I've tried making journaling a daily habit in the past, but usually I would end up skipping a day or two and eventually stop writing at all.

    I tried starting a journal specifically for noFap, but I felt like it was kind of superfluous since I've been writing in a separate journal daily. Also, I relapsed several times, and though some may look back at their failures as inspirational, for me it was just disheartening. I do believe in learning from our failures, but idk, reading it in my own journal day by day wasn't really helping me.

    Anyway, great stuff. I'll continue writing in my personal journal and maybe start another one for noFap once I get stuck in, around ten days maybe so I know I'll be able to make steady, productive progress with it.
  3. This is really good. Thank you for this post. I actually just yesterday did something related to this... I went to my profile and found my post history and went through it reading from start to finish. I do not keep a public journal here, but reading through my posts was similar.

    I'm over two years in at this point, and it was very informative to read through what I've written in the past, after relapses, after the first 90 day challenge was complete, 200+ days in, etc. It is especially helpful to read posts you have made after a relapse. I think this can be very helpful if you're ever considering relapsing or otherwise. I read through them now after so long of successfully avoiding PMO and I was like damn, that sounds terrible, I'm so glad I'm not going to do that again.

    Anyway, I think even for someone with a very good memory, the emotions of the present keep a lot of things hidden that aren't compatible with it. If you're having a rough, stressful day, and you really want to PMO... your desires and the release you imagine getting from the frustration are much more powerful and in your face than the healthy thoughts you've otherwise built up. That is... until you go read one of your "success story" posts where you enthusiastically tell of your improvements.

    Technology (journal is one example) of any kind helps us take things outside our feeble and fallible mind, so it is available no matter what our current state is.
  4. TheTraveller

    TheTraveller Fapstronaut

    Thank you for your kind comment @ethan.s ... The only thing is:

    It's not about reading your journal every day, it's only about writing it.
    You only read it when you need it :)

    It's like what @Phallosopher wrote, your old scribblings can serve as a great reminder.

    I really appreciate this excellent insight from an experienced NoFapper. Thank you :)

    Also, a journal in any form is good, it does not have to be on NoFap's forum. I might edit my post to make this more clear.
  5. sparkywantsnoPMO

    sparkywantsnoPMO NoFap Moderator & Yeoman

    This is a wonderful post. I will send people to it as I feel it can be useful to them. Thanks!