How to reward (and punish?) oneself in the right way?

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by Jodokus, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. Jodokus

    Jodokus Fapstronaut

    If you can't change by pure willpower, "self-managing" tools come into play. One important tool seems to be the self-reward.
    My problem is: I can't seem to do it properly, because

    - I "reward" myself in advance (when you eat the reward cake and then manage to work some hours, do you eat a second cake?)

    - when I think my performance was poor, I don't feel like I deserve it

    - I'm too busy with new tasks

    One cause may be that I often change my guidelines. Also I see a relation between
    self-restrictions and rewards. For example, if I say "I eat no sweets, other than as a reward" that might be too strict, esp. when the reward is far away, which provokes failure.

    Sometimes I figure out rewards that are a little bit challenging themselves. For example, if my reward is "I go to the theatre" it's a thing that I would enjoy, but I have to go out of my comfort-zone to do it.

    Talking about it, I wonder if rewards work for me as motivation at all. (Visualisation seems to works for me, for example)
    But then I think, I must be stupid, rewarding the good and not the bad behaviors is crucial. And maybe I should also punish bad behaviors in some way.

    So you see, I'm totally clueless in this regard.
    Please help!
    ello_govna likes this.
  2. I've been thinking about conditioning and what I know about psychology for the pmo problem. I think that possibly setting up rewards and punishment may help.

    Possible rewards:
    -small purchases (music, books, etc.)
    - leisure time
    - food (I.e. Going to a nice restaurant not junk food)

    Possible punishments:
    - giving money to friends
    - embarrassment (telling friends about a relapse)
    ello_govna and Jodokus like this.
  3. I have issues with rewarding myself too. I can't seem to land on something that is healthy AND practical.
    Judicious 7, Jodokus and ruso like this.
  4. I don't know much from psychology but from what I know the brain seems to associate things more with what is happening in a moment, rather than what happens after something is done. Even tho that still happens but it's not as effective. So for example rather than rewarding yourself with cake AFTER the work is done reward yourself when you ARE workING. What it does it makes your brain associate CURRENT action with pleasure. If you do this you should program the brain to want to actually work. If you do reward yourself after then you are programming your brain to focus on getting faster to a point when work is done, which is where reward waits. I just think it's more beneficial to actually be motivated to do work rather than be motivated to faster reach point where work is finished. The reason is that you are not actually programming your mind to enjoy activity itself which will not make you feel great when thinking of work. Instead you are training yourself to rush through it and finish it faster by any means to get till reward. Doesn't make you love the process.

    What you say about going to theater is great example of this. Those both things happening simultaneously, hence they will get linked one to another after long enough repeated practice. Not eating sweets until goal reached, no. Eating sweets every day to celebrate great streak, yes. Seen an accidental P-sub and had enough will power to look away? Eat a snack. Same with pain. Didn't look away and M'd? No snack. Doing something what you wanna program yourself not to do. Create something painful in the moment you are doing it. If if not in a moment as fast as you can. Like within 30 sec after doing that.. Go clean a toilet or something. Make your brain associate the moment with pain. Rather than moment long after bad action is done. It might be harder for it to understand otherwise why you are punishing it 2 hours later. It's like beating a dog 2 days after it has peed on your carpet. It just won't get it. If you beat it at the moment it will eventually understand.

    P.S. Please do not use this kind of training methods with animals. use positive reinforcement. I'm just giving example. Don't beat your doggies. :(
  5. ruso

    ruso Fapstronaut

    @Shugi Shugi Hmmm... I like how you approach to punishment. How successful have you been with it though?

    I am on the same boat as the OP, hopefully we continue to share ideas!
  6. Jodokus

    Jodokus Fapstronaut

    Thanks to all of you for your response!
    I felt so helpless with this issue before. Now I can understand it better and find a new way.
    Yes, that's a very good point.
    I think we should make a general distinction between Conditioning (after Pavlov) and broader Psychology.
    Because we can be conditioned like a dog, since a part of our brain works like this, but we also have higher functions. Moreover the Conditioning means producing a merely reflex: hear whistle pipe = expect something good or bad and show a certain physical reaction.
    How much has that even to do with rewards and punishment as we understand it (in daily life)?

    I think when we reward ourselves later (after 2 days i.e.), it should work too, because we know the connection. But maybe conditioning with an immediate reward/punishment works better (idk).
    Also we are not masters of ourselves, so we can't just conditioning ourselves after a plan, it's much more complicated. Here are just some of the reasons:
    1) punishing and rewarding ourselves is something we do unconsciously all the time, not always to our best. For example we might punish ourselves after a relapse with depression and further indulging in compulsive behavior. And when we are successful we are rewarded chemically.
    2) rewards and punishments are arbitrary for us, because we can enjoy a punishment and we can reframe rewards*

    * for me cake, cookies, chocolate means pleasure. But I'm working at becoming more independent from them. Although in many occasions I'm just a tool of my concerning habits I've already reframed a little of it: I've learned to enjoy the look and smell of sweets without eating them. I can go by shops full of yummy-looking & good-smelling sweets and I enjoy it plus I enjoy that I've got that kind of will power. But on other occasions I'm still a tool of my sweet-eating habits.

    I think this gives the direction of how we can use our mind to change itself. It's not just conditioning, it's manipulating and changing our deadlocked views on things and creating something new through our creativeness.

    Today I read about the so-called Proteus-effect. It seems of great importance what we identify with and which attribute we use that change our identification... I come to think maybe the most important part of self-rewarding is appreciation. And sometimes it has to be somebody else who appreciates our effort.

    I guess that applies also to ourselves. Sure you can clean the toilet after a relapse. Maybe that makes you feel better. But doesn't it include the message "when you clean the toilet afterwards relapsing is ok"? (if cleaning 100 toilets would be the consequence after one porn-binge, I guess a full addicted brain would still choose to binge)
    I think this can work. I see it as the competitive, sporty approach. But I don't see the punishment as the crucial factor but the support, the team spirit and the competition. Could anyone become a good football player when he trains alone?
    Lucky1 and Deleted Account like this.
  7. ello_govna

    ello_govna Fapstronaut

    Wow. I knew about dogs needing instant rewards, but I never thought about doing that with myself.

    One issue I'm having is the desire to M while laying in bed, and it sometime keeps me awake. Should I get up and eat something or do something else rewarding before sleeping? How long should I stay awake avoiding the urge to M before I reward myself?
  8. Kennen

    Kennen Fapstronaut

    How to reward...

    1. Aside from abstaining PMO, abstain your favorite hobby as well.
    I love gaming..
    After, I reach my nofap goal... It's time to play
    The problem with this is you need to find an alternative pastime.

    2. Reward yourself base on your hobby...
    I love gaming...
    I'll reward myself a gaming mouse.
    The problem with this is money :D

    Possible Punishment

    1. abstaining your favorite hobby can be a punishment.
    2. abstaining your favorite food
    3. community service. :D
    ello_govna likes this.
  9. Phibz

    Phibz Fapstronaut

    You guys need to dig a little deeper than this. lol But listen... because he knows. lol
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2019
  10. ruso

    ruso Fapstronaut

    @Jodokus So have you figured out what are your rewards and punishments?
  11. Jodokus

    Jodokus Fapstronaut

    I like ISO Happiness post.
    I guess punishing oneself is just the wrong way. When you have success, try to embrace it and celebrate it. When you miss your goals find out the reason. Try to be better next time and visualize the success.
    That's my 50 cents.
  12. wanabefree

    wanabefree Fapstronaut

    That's cute how you mentioned doggies and even elaborated on positive reinforcement :)

    As a matter of fact, a zoo owner I believe in Ontario got charged for whipping a tiger. Someone was filming it while that deed was being done.
    Deleted Account likes this.
  13. I use two methods. When I look up p-subs or intentionally indulge in fantasies I have this rubber band on my wrist I pull and hurt myself with. I then focus on pain and say "stop". After doing this for a while now I notice that it is easier to stop myself from these things than it used to be before, without actually hurting myself. I also notice less thoughts coming up automatically and I am also less inclined to bring them up consciously.

    Another method I use, not only with NoFap stuff but with lots of other stuff too, is to think something "negative" at the moment I am doing something I do not want to do. For example if I am outside and I feel social anxiety wondering should I talk with that person I imagine myself "suffering" because of that anxiety. Regret of not talking, etc. So brain associates that suffering with not approaching people/going to places, hence I should feel less motivated to run away.

    Thinking about punishment is just as effective as actually punishing yourself at the moment because brain does not recognize a difference between something what is real and something you vividly imagine (hence why you are capable to get erection just from fantasies for example, your brain thinks it's real mate there, it does not know you are just fantasizing, this is true for everything).

    Also it's good and even very important to really bring an emotion to this too. Like painful emotion. Not just imagine scenario, but imagine pain it will crate to you, feel the pain. Pain of loneliness that social anxiety will crate, pain of disgust or disappointment in yourself what PMO will crate, etc. From this I have definitely noticed that I am less inclined to run from uncomfortable situations indeed. And less inclined to do things I know are not beneficial to me cos I start to associate them with pain. It works!
    Have same problem here. Just before sleep or right in the morning when I'm in bed. If it's in the morning get up as fast as possible and do something, anything to distract yourself. Like brushing teeth. If it's in the evening, well, then it's harder. Like I mentioned above in this post, thoughts work too. Imagine how you will feel after you MO, how disappointed in yourself, how ashamed, how weak, etc. Keep thinking of MO, just also think of how bad it will feel afterwards, not how good it will feel at moment. That should make you associate MO with those negative feelings instead of pleasure. Also rubber band around wrist to distract yourself from thoughts. Pull, focus on pain and say "stop".

    It's one thing to do some though love and conditioning on ourselves, to better ourselves as a result. But it's completely different thing to abuse somebody else who never signed up for it to begin with. If my dog (which I don't have, never had and probably never will, cos I "hate" dogs, which would probably make this even borderline enjoyable haha) would magically start talking and ask me to beat him so he would get conditioned for something, I would. But otherwise it's just not fair.

    It's not supposed to make you fell better afterwards. Or give you permission as long as you clean toilet. It's supposed to work on deeper, unconscious level by making you associate relapsing with disgust (of smelly toilet) deeper in the gut. But I guess it can work like it is not supposed to. You're right. Increasing intensity, if that's the case, might help. Like maybe cleaning toilet with only a toothbrush and no gloves, if you messed up?

    This is not that good method, I agree. This is why I think that punishment in moment, rather then after, is better for unconscious conditioning.
    It certainly works. It just works in different way. One is more conscious and other skips mind and goes straight to the back brain. One will make you WANT a reward and not WANT to mess up, other will make you FEEL bad about messing up (without you even thinking about it), hence be motivated not to mess up / less motivated to mess up. Different brain pathways. I think doing both for best results would be great.
    Yea, I guess. How about just calling it "programming"? Conditioning unconscious and programming conscious?

    But, also, I would argue that what you think consciously is highly dependent from your unconscious mind. Everything we do and say either comes from unconscious or goes to unconscious to be stored, processed and then later effect our conscious. It's two way street and one can not fully function without other. At least until we get beyond human brain and dive into more deeper, mystic aspects of consciousness.
    Unfortunately we are not masters of ourselves. Our mind is. And very often we don't have control of what orders our master gives us. But we should at least resolve to become disciples, so one day we can be masters.

    One likes sweets, one likes not. One is working how to not be dependent from sweets, other knows he is dependent from them but uses that for his advantage. Different minds, different approaches.

    I agree though, it's certainly not all about just conditioning.
    Jodokus likes this.
  14. Buzz Lightyear

    Buzz Lightyear Fapstronaut

    Yes, I third ISO's post. No need to 'reward' yourself for good behaviour. You only reward children, or rats in laboratories. If you do the right thing, it will have its own reward because it is an end in itself... not a means to an end.
    LtGen James likes this.
  15. Definitely. I deserve to be flogged for the shit I have done. And I readily would take lashes from a whip or belt if there were anyone giving them out. But alas people are soft skinned nowadays, no one is going to whip me and that just sounds crazy talking about being punished by being flogged or whipped.

    So I will go 'punish' myself with outdoor cardio. Over an hour of it, absolute punishment. Nature provides a reward in the form of neurotransmitters. Should I bake myself a pretty cake or buy a present for myself for having a successful reboot? Fuck no. However I do believe in celebrating accomplishments with friends. Get the hell out of your own skin and make your progress become a part of the lives of others.

    For someone to even create a thread like this means they are self centered (no offense many of us here are absorbed with ourself to an extent such is the nature of fapping). Let your friends or partner decide if you are going to get a reward, that should be the last thing on your mind. You have gratified yourself long enough. Time to form habits that inherently provide a deeper reward than any amount of pampering or flattering yourself with gifts can provide.
    Jodokus likes this.
  16. Jodokus

    Jodokus Fapstronaut

    This is kind of provocating. Well I must agree that I'm a self-centered person to a certain point. And you have a good point, James: let others decide about rewarding you! -that means: let others in your life, be there for them, be a part of something bigger...
    My personal conclusion: I need to socialize more.

    However, if we are self-centered or just managing our own life, that doesn't mean that self-gratification is bad. The idea of self-gratification is meant to improve motivation.
    So I disagree partly with you, James. But I also disagree with my last post, where I presumed "punishing oneself is just the wrong way". The truth is I just don't have the answers. But I'm glad that you guys have so much to say about it. There are many methods and strategies out there. At the end of the day one has to choose and then try out.

    I 'punished' myself in that way too, just recently! It's training for body and mind.

    I like that! It gives an immediate response... much faster and easier then the famous cold shower.

    Here's another method: have a pot of hot pepper in reach. As soon as you find yourself in the danger zone rub in on your hands. You can't touch your Heini anymore without pain. (But be careful not to scratch your eyes!)
  17. ruso

    ruso Fapstronaut

    @Shugi Shugi Thanks for providing more insight into your punishment approach. I'm going to see if I visualize the pain of procrastination as punishment. Or even more severe consequences like...losing the job all together. I do need to think of the other side of the coin though, reward for at first catching up, then staying on time, then being ahead.
  18. Punishment is only effective when it happens immediately at the moment of the act you're trying to punish - this goes for whether you're punishing yourself, punishing a pet or child, etc. If you make a mistake, and then punish yourself 10 minutes later, nothing good will come of it. The trick is to punish yourself right at the moment of the negative act, so that your brain builds up a negative association with the act.

    It doesn't have to be something horribly negative. One common way of doing this is keeping an elastic band around your wrist all day, then pulling it back and pinging it against your arm as a way of punishing yourself. With something like NoFap the idea would be to do this the moment you entertain any thoughts regarding PMO. If you forget to do it immediately, then don't do it - punishing yourself too late will only cause more problems and not do yourself any good, it has to be done right at the moment of the thing you want to punish.

    Rewards on the other hand can work in two ways. Either like punishments, immediately at the moment of the act you want to reward, to reinforce that behaviour - or as a carrot on the stick that you dangle ahead of yourself to encourage yourself to move forwards.

    Immediate rewards need to be handed out for positive behaviour RATHER than for a lack of negative behaviour - if you reward yourself simply for not following through with bad behaviour, your brain will start to associate thinking bad thoughts and then stopping itself with reward, and so you'll actually be more likely to go down the route of the bad behaviour, just to try "stop yourself" and get the reward. Plus, there needs to be a specific activity that you are rewarding for the neurons to start firing together and build association. So instead reward your new healthy hobbies. Just finished a work out? Enjoy some dark chocolate, or put on a movie, etc.

    Delayed rewards come in the form of things like - say you're aiming to go for 90 days of NoFap? Well you can give yourself a reward each week, that way if you say make it 5 days and feel like PMO, you remember that in only two days you'd be getting a reward, so it's easier to tough it out those next two days. Then after that reward, you know there's another one coming a week later. What I suggest with these rewards, is making them into rewards that genuinely require your success to be most effective. With NoFap this is easy, since we all know about NoFap's positive effects on our social skills - plan social events each week or two. Since you know you'll be getting more attention from the ladies, feeling more confident and outgoing etc - you'll know it'll turn out great IF you stick to NoFap etc.

    The trick here to make delayed rewards effective is to tie them in to the behaviour you're rewarding. If you're rewarding yourself for working out hard all month, do it by buying yourself some workout equipment etc. If you're rewarding yourself for doing a month of cold approach, take a trip into a big city and go to an amazing club and do it there. If you're rewarding yourself for healthy eating, spend an entire day preparing an amazingly tasty meal that's still healthy that makes you actually feel good about that healthy eating. If you're rewarding yourself for success in your business, make a new investment in something that'll help your business grow even further.

    Delayed rewards shouldn't be "cheat days", but instead should be boosters to your progress - but ones that excite you and break the monotony of all the hard work you've been doing. :)

    Some examples of rewards I've used recently:
    • As a reward for reaching 1 month of NoFap, I bought myself some new testosterone boosting supplements to help speed up recovery from PMO & the NoFap benefits.
    • As a reward for reaching 500 subscribers on my YouTube channel, I've started work on a new product that I'm having fun making that I can market through the channel to my viewers.
    • As a reward for working out hard lately I'm buying myself weights & a pullup bar.
    Jodokus likes this.
  19. Jodokus

    Jodokus Fapstronaut

    I enjoyed to read your amazing ideas folks!
    Here's an update of my approach:

    I know what I want and I my task is to go there. My goals are motivating me and when I reach one I will be rewarded. To climb that metaphorical mountain I need training and I need to remember me over and over to try hard. Sometimes I go easy on myself, thereupon I go extra hard. This is not punishment, it's training.
    Besides I'm still thinking this to be true:
    In my words: instead of thinking about how to reward yourself for certain actions just do it and believe in rewards - they will come on their own.

    Many times when I thought I rewarded myself it was just a pleasure that I couldn't resist. Sometimes it's ok to go easy on ourselves. We can't be superheros all the time ;)
    But true rewards: just earn them and let them surprise you.

    *Sacrifice never comes without reward*

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