I've found a way out of the struggle

Discussion in 'Porn Addiction' started by ZenAF, Apr 18, 2024.

  1. ZenAF

    ZenAF Fapstronaut

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    Intro
    First off, let me get a lot of you to stop reading right here because you're hoping to find a recipe in this post on how to quit porn. I haven't quit. But I have reached a place where porn isn't a problem in my life anymore. By that I mean my sex life is healthy, I have a great relationship with my girlfriend and porn doesn't distract or bother me at all. If you're interested on how I got here, keep reading.

    How it was
    First a short background to where I used to be a few years ago: Excessive PMO of three to four times a day, anxiety that I'm screwing my life up with it, trying to get free, lots of NoFap streaks that would end with a feeling in my stomach like I'm about to get sick, which was next level craving that I'd give in to. Depression and helplessness about being unable to quit. Incapable of having a productive day without being constantly interrupted by cravings. And not to mention countless, and I mean hundreds over the years, of hours overthinking the "porn problem". I had been in this state for around four years of my life.

    How it's now
    Now I PMO around four times a week, I don't feel cravings at all, I can easily focus on work, I don't get distracted by thoughts of porn. It's no problem for me to stop for a while to PMO and not even think about it.

    How did I get there
    The following wisdom should be your main take away from this post:

    Where focus goes energy flows.

    First thing I did was to quit this forum and I only come back to write this post because I know people here are struggling.
    However daily engagement with people talking about porn and getting rewarded for it through likes and attention does not help your brain to ease off the subject.

    Next, I stopped trying to quit. When I want to watch porn, I watch porn. There's no internal struggle, trying to resist or guilt after I've done it. At the time the porn use first went up by a lot, like a starving person trying to fill their stomach to the brim because they don't know when they'll have the next opportunity to eat. But then the porn use slowly started to decrease. It stopped being "the forbidden fruit that tastes the sweetest" and just became another fruit. The obsessive thinking, the anxiety, guilt, self-doubt went away. I can't remember how long that process took but it was at least a couple months.

    What I really want to stress is that I stopped caring about porn. I gave this subject so much time and energy and I was tired of it draining me. I had other things going on in my life and still do that are much more important, like getting the right career, making money, establishing a long-lasting relationship, dealing with my self-image etc.
    My focus shifted. I got into Forex trading and joined a community which teaches a lot about rewiring the mind, how to stay positive, focused and productive in order to trade the markets well. All my energy started to go there and porn was no longer center-stage in my life. It became a side character. It got back to where it once was back when I first started watching porn. Just another way to get off.

    I know a lot of you want to quit completely. But what I want to get across is that all the negativity around porn in my life was a self-inflating balloon that kept getting worse until I finally stopped caring. It was a big relief and improved my mental health greatly.

    The neurological background
    Many of you are wondering why you're stuck in these cycles of PMO, NoFap, Relapse. The reason is because your brain is hard-wired to get it's desires met. Unless you change your opinion about sexy bodies and turn into a permanent asexual, your brain is going to continue liking what it sees on the internet and will want to see it at times. When you resist it your brain will..
    1. Entice you to watch "Hey how about a bit of.."
    2. Bargain "How about just looking, or I don't take my pants of.."
    3. Struggle "I can't concentrate, I keep obsessing over it"
    4. Crave "...... NOW!"

    The reason it does that is to figure out which signal strength you respond to, to give it what it wants. When you go on your NoFap streak and relapse when it gets really bad, like I did, your brain learns that you need a really strong signal to meet it's desires. You programmed the strength of your cravings into yourself by consistently trying to resist them. This will still happen after 30, 40, 50 days of NoFap.
    What I essentially did unknowingly at the time when I stopped resisting, is to teach my brain that it doesn't have to obsess over porn to get porn. It's readily available when it wants it and it therefor doesn't care about it the rest of the time. And when I do want to watch, it's not a craving, it's more like an idea, like a treat I look forward to.

    What about truly quitting, 90+ days NoFap streak?

    If that's what you want, go for it, I by no means say it's wrong to quit porn. Do what you want. In my case I realized after several years being in the NoFap community that it's a huge struggle to get to those 90+ days and the issue absorbed such a big part of my mental real-estate that one day I wasn't willing to pay that price anymore. More importantly I need my focus elsewhere.

    When the positive consequences of letting go of trying to quit started to make me feel so much better, I was tempted to make this post but I stopped myself because I wasn't sure yet if it's sustainable. Now however it's been more than two years and I feel comfortable saying that this works great for me. So it's likely to help maybe not all but some of you as well.


    I'll check in on this post for a couple days if you have questions or concerns, then I'll be gone again.

    Take care and all the best

    ZenAF
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2024
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  2. ThePerspicacious

    ThePerspicacious Fapstronaut

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    I can relate to this part, it is like an endless cycle, one of the reasons why I go watch porn is beause I need to numb my bad emotions, numb my stress, numb the feelings of being an addict and having a difficult life, those feelings that come along with the idea of wanting to quit but failin thousands of times in itself is alone able to give me a lot of stress, a lot of bad emotions and a lot of low self esteem, and I just saw a video lately by a famous doctor on youtube talking exactly about this idea, I don't know, I feel I should try to quit for a few times again, see if I can do it, if it turns out to be not achievable, I might start thinking about this alternative.
     
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  3. ThePerspicacious

    ThePerspicacious Fapstronaut

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    But to be honest, it's not just about masturbating once a while and getting the addiction under control, it's about the bad habits that comes with porn, the bad personnality that comes with it, the bad world view, the false impression it gives you on women and sex and on life in general, those will never go away if I keep PMOing
     
  4. ZenAF

    ZenAF Fapstronaut

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    I'm not sure if "numbing" is the right word. Everybody, from a monk in Nepal to a junkie in New York, has ways to release stress. Some ways are healthier of course, having less or no negative consequences, like meditation. But meditation requires a lot of practice to be effective, PMO doesn't. Either way don't beat yourself up for using porn to deal with life, you're just trying to get by like everyone else.
    Of course, if you get bad emotions and don't want to even look at them to understand but instead immediately go for a dopamine release, that's a problem.

    With that I disagree 100%. No disrespect but that sounds like you're coping, you're putting the responsibility of your negativity entirely on porn consumption here. Sure it can make you out of touch with reality if you have no other sexual experience in life but whether it does or doesn't depends on you. For everybody watching porn does not equal negative world view or view on women. I saw a ton of women online over the years being treated like objects, I've never treated any of my girlfriends that way. There's a clear distinction in my head between porn and reality.
    Same thing with personality, if you're somebody with a bad temper that won't go away just because you abstain from porn because porn wasn't the reason in the first place.

    Look all in all in understand the feeling well of there being too much porn in your life and you feeling like it's not good for you in several ways. That instinct is true at least to some degree. But don't see it as the main culprit for everything that goes wrong in your life, that's a red herring.

    What I did was to remove the guilt, remove the focus away from porn. I took it down from it's pedestal of negative importance in my life.
     
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  5. You make some valid points about the "forbidden fruit" effect and how talking about the problem constantly doesn't necessarily help the problem go away. Personally, I think this site spends too much time talking about the problem and not the solutions. With that said, I don't agree with everything. The "if you can't beat them, join them" mentality might have helped you based on your moral code, but it doesn't help me, as my moral code is against porn and masturbation. Furthermore, I view addiction as slavery, and while you might be okay with being a functioning addict, I am not.
     
  6. SuperFan

    SuperFan Fapstronaut

    I encourage you to come back and read this ^^^ sentence over and over. You watch porn to numb all these uncomfortable feelings ... but at the same time, you acknowledge that PMO is largely the reason for these uncomfortable feelings. This is the insanity of addiction: we use a behavior to avoid dealing with feelings caused BY the behavior. It's easy to see how that becomes an eternal, never-ending cycle.

    Give yourself some grace, my friend. This is a very difficult addiction to overcome because it's hijacking a very primitive, biological part of your brain that is hard-wired to your humanity. But breathe easy and rest in the truth that there IS hope, and you CAN beat this. But instead of being your own worst critic--instead of berating yourself and feeling like a hopeless failure when you slip--try being your own biggest cheerleader. Give yourself grace to slip-up. Work on developing the self-respect to recognize that slips are just part of the process of growth, and get right back on track. If you can be kind to yourself, you'll find those slips getting further and further apart from one another.

    I'm 100% with you. There is no universe where any amount of porn or masturbation is healthy for me.

    It's by the grace of God that I have the sobriety I have. I don't know how to describe it. I can't put a finger on the exact moment when my mindset shifted, or why. All I know is that, at some point, I went from being a man who really wanted to PMO, but deep-down knew he shouldn't, so I'd white-knuckle my way through a few tormented days of temptation out of duty and obligation ... into a man who genuinely didn't want to PMO. The pleasure of staying sexually sober became greater than the pleasure of jerking off to a screen for hours on end. And what's crazy is that when that shift happened, my recovery felt effortless. I wasn't having to constantly worry about triggers, or fight intrusive thoughts. I allowed feelings of arousal to come and go on their own. I totally trusted myself to act in my own best interests.

    Now, I'd had this experience--easy recovery--a few times in the past. But because it was so foreign and odd to me, I would inevitably sabotage it. "Wait ... this is too easy. I haven't felt a compulsion for a few days. I'm not even tempted. Is something wrong with me? Does my dick not work anymore? Have I irreparably damaged my sex drive? I'd better just watch a little porn and M, just to make sure everything still works ok ... " And just like that, I'd throw away a great, solid run. I'm not doing that anymore. Now, I just thank God for the grace of a recovery that feels easy and strong, and do my due diligence to flee temptation instead of inviting it.
     
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  7. ThePerspicacious

    ThePerspicacious Fapstronaut

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    WISDOM
     
  8. Summer Son

    Summer Son Fapstronaut

    This post is pure gold! Thanks for sharing your opinions. Personally I am trying to quit maybe since I firstly started but I had sevetal huge streaks and I found that most of them was not about just resisting the urge, but building my life and focusing elsewhere. I succeeded most of them thinking about other things in life.
     
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  9. tonyk1982

    tonyk1982 Fapstronaut

    Excellent post!
     
  10. ZenAF

    ZenAF Fapstronaut

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    First off I appreciate the neutral you do you way you express yourself with and I'm happy to go back to that. However I'll challenge what you wrote a little bit.
    I don't think there's someone to "join", the way I see it, anthropomorphing pornography is part of the issue of ascribing more power to this subject than it deserves.
    If you're against porn and masturbation as such, I think that's fine, I just can't relate to that because I was never in that camp. For me the issue was that it essentially absorbed too much of my lifetime for what it offers and I changed that balance back to where it feels right for me.
    The definition of a porn user being enslaved is a bit of a slippery slope. With the same logic you can call your desire for love slavery as well. The grand majority of people are not enlightened enough that they don't need at least some amount of affection from other people to truly feel good about themselves, even tho, technically speaking, it's not a necessity like food and water. Tho I'm fairly certain you wouldn't call a couple in love "addicts". If you do, then the term addict gets broadened to a degree where it loses it's original meaning of someone who's organizing their whole life around a single object of desire. An addict to me is someone who lost all sense of balance, not by default someone who desires and fulfills desires which aren't survival essential.
     
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  11. nomo

    nomo Fapstronaut

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    Great post, you have a lot that I would comment on and agree with, but I thought that this was your most important point, "I had other things going on in my life and still do that are much more important, like getting the right career, making money, establishing a long-lasting relationship, dealing with my self-image etc."

    I have often said that we need to replace porn with positive activities. For me, I need to resist porn 100% while I work on finding and being consistent with the positive activities that I need for a better life. My streaks are short and when I indulge with porn, I spend too much time edging and watching endless videos. In other words, I don't do very well with moderation. The other issue I have is the PMO feels like I'm taking a step backwards. PMO is wasted time that would have been better spent elsewhere.

    Maybe someday my life will be so great that the occasional look at porn will make sense, but at this point a PMO relapse is just that, a step back in the wrong direction.

    Thanks for posting a different viewpoint. I'm thinking about how this method would work with other addictions? For a drug addict and alcoholic, the occasional shot of heroin or drink would probably be a disaster. For the cigarette smoker or over eater, an occasional cigarette or piece of cake may be alright, but only if it doesn't trigger them to want more.
     
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  12. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. I used the word "them" because I view porn as an entity, mainly a nefarious business/organization, which profits off of human degradation and suffering. I don't see this as giving them power, but more calling a spade a spade.

    Right, and I figured you and I view porn differently in this respect, which is why your method doesn't work for me.

    Yes, I would agree that definition would be problematic, but we're not talking about the occasional user who can stop at any time. We're talking about the addict who has negatively impactied their willpower and feels dependent. If you use porn occasionally but still can't quit at anytime and never touch it again, then you're not free, you're enslaved.

    I've always been on the fence on whether love is a need or not. I know we need food and water, but is that all there is to human beings? Do we not also have an intellect and will, and is human survival the same as human flurishing? Personally, I think truth and love are the food and water of the soul, so I would say they're needed for human flurishing. How I understand the needing of love part though is different from what you're referring to which is the need for affection. I believe we need to be loving, not necessarily that we have to be loved by others. It's diffcult to articulate what I mean by this so I'll just leave it.

    There is such a thing as love addiction, so I would say it depends on the nature of the relationship.

    I would say I define an addict as somone who is enslaved by their desires to the point of being incapable of making a free choice.
     
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  13. tonyk1982

    tonyk1982 Fapstronaut

    I am a PMO addict 30+ years. Would go on days long binges. Four years ago I faced the addiction and admitted I had a problem. Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten to a place of occasional PMO behavior maybe once a month. And unlike many on this forum who seek total abstinence and monitor their streaks, I am comfortable with occasional use. I have a well rounded life including LTR now, unlike previously where PMO would be an activity to the exclusion of all else.

    I appreciate the viewpoints in this particular thread. Food for thought on evolving the management of my addiction.
     
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  14. KevinesKay

    KevinesKay Fapstronaut

    This site is called NoFap,
    Not "Some-Fap"

    This post reminds of Moderation Management

    Speaking of moderation, I'm reminded of this joke.

    A man gets pulled over for running a stop sign. When the officer approaches the man, he explains that he didn’t stop, but he at least slowed down.

    The officer gets out his nightstick and starts beating the man over the head with it.

    “Now,” the officer says, “Do you want me to stop, or do you want me to slow down?”
     
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  15. ZenAF

    ZenAF Fapstronaut

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    The point that was made by people of the medical community is that the brain probes you, the actor, the one who makes a choice, for signal strength. The signal strength you setup in your relationship with your brain is the one you have to deal with down the line.

    It essentially works like this analogy: Say you know somebody who has trouble hearing. At first you will talk in a normal voice to them because you're used to it. As they don't react you will talk louder. If they still don't react you'll shout. Then they'll react. You'll remember this, so to save energy the next time you'll shout from the start.

    Your brain remembers that you met it's desires for porn when it gave you strong urges, so it will use this signal strength on you to make you react. As I demonstrated in my life that behavior is reversible.

    I don't think the approach I've presented is a good cookie cutter way with other addictions esp. heavy drugs like Fentanyl or opioids. I'm not educated in those fields and I don't equate a porn addiction with other addictions. There are overlaps but also distinct differences.

    My approach works if your goal is to get away from cravings and bring the use back to a point where it doesn't mess up your life. Which afterwards can give you a more relaxed starting to point to remove the porn use completely if you want that because you're more emotionally calm and stable.

    To remove it completely however is a lot more complex than to simply resist craving for 90 days. The brain isn't that primitive and stupid. We operate based on beliefs, identity and purpose. If porn use is mostly in line with that and only in conflict with one or two beliefs, like in my case, it's an endless struggle to get rid of it because deep down I don't see the point aka. it doesn't contradict what I believe in. Hence what @SuperFan wrote makes sense to me:
    Porn use goes against his beliefs and once he fully comprehended that it's easy to let go as something that doesn't belong to him. To me it's clear that's a personal matter that everyone needs to figure out for themselves if they ultimately truly have a problem with porn itself or if they simply don't want to overuse.


    I see and there's some merit to that. Tho it's a bit too black and white for me to see it that way. What about all the men and women who earn their living with adult content and are decent people? I've heard two or three porn stars on podcasts, not because I looked for them but they appeared on podcasts I listen to and I had a positive impression of all them. Humble, chill, good humor, empathetic. Or what about big social media companies like Youtube and Instagram, god knows there's plenty of content there that isn't exactly promoting a healthy way of living..
    Right, I guess I have a problem with the whole "I could quit, therefor I'm free, I just won't because I don't want to". If you like something you want to do it and your brain will be confused and act weird if you suddenly stop for an undefined period of time in an effort to prove yourself that you're free, which is a standard you set yourself in the first place.
    Well how do you know if you're loved if you don't experience affection from time to time? :) I agree with you about human flurishing. But I do see that ultimate enlightenment is a completely self-sufficient human being, all the matters of heart and mind are solved from within without the help from outside. It's something I strive for in my relationship as well, which helped me greatly to get away from neediness and to view things in a way that makes it the easiest for both of us.
    Yeah goes back to wanting someone else to fix your internal world. Some help is ok, we're not walking Buddhas, but the more outside help that's required the harder life gets for everybody involved.
    In my experience I've never seen that point. I've always made a free choice. Was often the wrong one that made things worse but free it was nonetheless. Some stoves you have to touch for a long time before you're really sure it's not worth the burn.

    This site was made to help people who are suffering. You may have to accept that not everybody here has the same belief system, same goals and is in need of the same solution as you.
     
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  16. It might surprise you, as it did me, but NoFap is neither anti-porn or anti-masturbation

    “We are not an “anti-porn” nor “anti-masturbation” website (we’re a recovery website), as we do not advocate against people engaging in the moderate use of either. We’re here for people whose porn use and masturbation have become excessive, out-of-control, and detrimental to their lives. We’ve existed since 2011, and the World Health Organization formally began recognizing compulsive sexual behavior disorder in 2019.”

    https://nofap.com/about/

    According to this site and the founders beliefs, @ZenAF is not considered addicted since he has found a way to make porn and masturbation manageable.


    @ZenAF I will try to reply to you later. I’m sure you’re not worried about it but wanted to give a heads up. I appreciate the discussion.
     
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  17. onceaking

    onceaking Fapstronaut

    I was about to point that out. It makes me think this site should change its name.

    I think masturbation done in moderation is fine. For me, porn is the real problem. Feminist porn is great, but it's hard to find. You go looking for it, you will always come across misogynistic porn. Whenever I set out to only watch porn that doesn't degrade women, I always find myself looking at it, so that's why I decided to give it up.
     
  18. onceaking

    onceaking Fapstronaut

    Up until a point, I agree about the distinction, but I found myself thinking misogynistic thoughts due to the amount of porn I watched. Now, have I acted in a misogynistic way to a woman? I think not, but out of nowhere the thoughts would pop into my head, and that's when I knew I needed to give it up. Really, when I first started watching porn, I was shocked by the way women were treated. I thought porn was a way to celebrate rather than degrade them. Trouble is I found myself being drawn in by it. I think a part of me wanted to see how far they were willing to take it.
     
  19. I get it seems too black and white for you, but I personally view porn as being inherently morally wrong, so the personal gain of someone from participating in that wrong doesn't nullify its wrongness. Keep in mind I'm not saying the pornstar is therefor a bad person, as circumstances, knowledge, etc would be what determine the individual's moral culpability/character. Another example would be theft. I view theft as being inherently morally wrong, but I don't necessarily see the person who steals as being a morally bad person as there could be circumstances which mitigate their culpability.

    With that said, I don't think porn attracts healthy individuals who choose freely to be pornstars. I think it scoops-up people who are broken, abused, and lost and uses them until they have nothing left --some are even trafficked. It's just not a profession you go into if all is well in your life. Granted, there will be exceptions to every rule, and I think a well adjusted pornstar is one of those exceptions. Sadly, the majority of them are not and tragically end up committing suicide.

    Social media is an interesting middle ground because I don't view it as being inherently evil, like I view porn. Social media, to me, is a cross between a tool and junk food. It can be a medium used for good or evil, but it's designers created it to play on our human weakness. I'm still on the fence on whether or not it can be healthy. I think it could, but I think some boundaries would need to be in place in order for that to happen. Given the fact that suicides have increased in youth since the advent of social media, I think society and humanity as a whole would be wise to step back and rethink it's need, purpose, and design.

    I get what you are saying. Personally, I think one of the hallmarks of addiction is your compulsion to think you need to do something you don't want to do. When I was a drug addict, I would curse the drug as I was using it. It's the same with porn, I don't like it, but I feel compelled to use it. A lot of that obviously has to do with the pathways I've formed from habitual use as well as other psychological factors. I don't view this standard of freedom as one I have set for myself, but rather an observed reality. If I can't make the choice to freely stop this unnecessary thing at anytime and never use it again, then I'm not truly free.

    That is a great question and I have realized it comes down to belief/faith. My feelings and the affections or lack thereof of others doesn't dictate whether I'm actually being loved. I have felt affection from those who've used me and I have felt nothing from those who've truly cared for me.

    Oddly enough, I agree to a point. I think the big difference between your belief and mine is I believe it is God, who is both within and outside of us, who solves these matters.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Buddhism teaches that it is within everyone's ability to be a Buddha, an enlightened one. Isn't that the goal/purpose of Buddhism? Personally, I don't believe anyone is or can be self-sustaining as I don't believe we were created to be this way. I think only God is self-sustaining, pure existence and perfection.

    I don't doubt your choice to view porn in the beginning was a free choice, but are you still making a free choice to view porn? If you are then I'm happy you have that freedom. If you are not, then I consider you addicted and hope you achieve the ability to make the choice freely some day. You don't have to answer me, but ask yourself, are you completely detached from porn? If not, does your attachment to something go against your core beliefs as a Buddhist?
     
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  20. When I read the About NoFap section, I kind of chuckled because I think there are a lot of users on here who would be surprised to know that according to the founders beliefs, they're considered recovered.

    I also chuckled because I imagined people's reaction to this news to be that similar to Chris Farley's in the SNL Coffee Crystals skit.