One year! My journey through the year has been rooted by a desire to make myself a better human being, to become a person that isn't driven by impulse. At a certain point I realized that this is the only way that I will be able to move beyond the small pleasure of PMOing. That drive finally came through one moment when I was sitting in my kitchen next to my wife as we sat talking to each other about our lives with respect to the recovery. This willingness to become a better person has lead to a myriad of epiphanies, some of which I'd like to share here in hopes that I can invigorate some lives of fellow addicts. I will not talk about what I was into, why I was into that stuff, why I fell into PMOing, etc. It is generally very similar to what I have read in these forums. Our phrases become the kernels of our lives These are the phrases that have allowed me to break through the shell of addiction. I am not entitled to video entertainment The mind catches onto anything that can be a gateway to the pixel drug. The brain will work overtime to justify getting lost in entertainment, that is how it works especially given how many years our brains recorded us getting overly stimulated by sexualized material. In many ways video entertainment nowadays is synonymous with sexualized entertainment. The image of a women is severely skewed in video entertainment nowadays. Any encounter with triggering material will shift your brain back in time, this is what it wants because the brain is comfortable there. That past brings "easy dopamine", one of the failings of the modern hyperactive society. So, when I tell myself this I cut off any attempt of the brain to create excuses to get back to the pixel drug. This doesn't happen immediately, it slowly gets etched into my brain, neuroplasticity. Over time my brain starts rewiring itself because I have "installed" a mental block. My entitlement extended far beyond watching TV. It went into feeling entitled to gawk women, feeling entitled to eat anything I want, feeling entitled to lay around and do nothing, etc. The worst of it is feeling entitled to gawk at women. There is absolutely no reason that I should feel these entitlements. The only thing I am entitled to in my life is breathing, everything else is a gift. So there are many levels in this phrase that I saw flower as I made my way through each day, which is very similar to the other phrases that I will talk about, however briefly. I am the only source of my emotions, and actions I give credit to Sadhguru for this particular phrase. No matter how I am feeling, no matter my situations, no matter what happens to me, to people close to me, no matter how many assholes I come across, it is me that decides how I am going to react. This is a particularly difficult one to stay with. Many times it seems impossible to live in such a way, and it is something that I am still working on right now. However, I get more and more empowered every day that I tell myself this. This comes in handy with recovery because being emotionally driven by external situations puts me in a place such that I am incapable of self reflection and self governance. This is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to the P addict, and addictions in general. If you believe that you are helpless in your situations you are essentially bound to "escape" them, ironically. After telling myself this for quite some time I realized that I have become more aware of my actions. Even the little actions of logging into a device. I take pause, and I reflect a little. This is also me training my brain. Every little action that I take is mine, and it can either propel me forward or backwards. There have been plenty of times that I took the wrong step, too many to count, but that is counter-balanced by better actions. The further I progressed the better my choices have become. ...that is a lie Whenever fantasies start to enter my consciousness I tell myself, that is a lie. I am especially indebted to "Meshuga" for this little line. Once I read this I felt a big relief coupled with an "Aha!" moment. When any fantasy comes about this is my go-to, it works every time. When I put this little saying together with the practice of slowing my breath down significantly I have been able to move past fantasy much quicker nowadays. Fantasies ARE a lie, they are not based in reality, they have no real substance, and they are not existential. One can live AND flourish without fantasies. Sure there are "fantasies" that are not like this, but for the P addict that world of fantasy rarely leads to anything substantial and uplifting, and not just for the individual. It is okay if I crave this, but that doesn't actually mean that I must indulge in it. This is a tricky one, but if you repeat it to yourself you will find yourself in a different head space. If I feel like I want to look at some women, it is "okay", that is, the desire to do so is okay; the act, on the other hand, is a different story. It is "okay" because that is the tendency of the brain as I have "programmed" it. It is similar to wanting to punch someone in the face because he did something that didn't agree with you. It is "okay" to feel that way, but you don't (most of the time) actually do it. Just wait a second and your reason will come back to you, it always does. This telling myself that it is "okay" also works for when I am craving something to eat, especially during times when I am doing a fast. Giving way to the urges and cravings does not lead to something better. Then there is the other aspect of acknowledging that it is "okay". That is where you aren't vilifying yourself. When I vilify myself, it leads to all sorts of other emotions and puts me in a bad state. Living an emotionally driven life will only lead you back to an addiction. You look at your actions, become conscious of it. Think about whenever you became an emotional wreck, you might realize that it lead you into some sort of addiction. So it is okay. Wait for a few moments, it will pass. The you that is waiting on the other side will be stronger and better suited for life's trials and tribulations. I am a full life Another one courtesy of Sadhguru. Something I struggle with often, especially when I find myself in dire situations. I. Am. A. Full. Life. The creator (whatever image you have here) "designed" a body with everything that it needs to survive, but somewhere down the line we were pushed into the idea that we are a being of struggle. That struggle becomes our everyday lives. This is ripe terrain for addictions. This "we are struggling" mentality is perfect fertilizer for excuses. Excuses will pop up all around like weeds in the field. But, when I say that I am a full life, I can see intricacies of what is happening within me. The millions of things that my body is doing everyday becomes conscious. This "thing" that I am is pretty frickin amazing! I can create worlds, I can change my environment, I can flourish, I can learn anything that I want to learn! I don't need anything "out there" to complete me. I don't need the pixel drug to feel good, I can just feel good every time I take a breath. I don't need some woman to "give" me sex because my urges are there (I am not advocating to be a monk and/or celibate, but to just be aware of how much of a life you are just by breathing). You are a tremendous possibility, don't let it "go to waste". Sex is not important It is not "important". There is nothing "important" about it. Importance is a human construct, it only resides in the firings of a few neurons. Sex is, however, a function of mammals, which we just happen to be a part of. It is not even important that you have offspring (I know this is a very touchy thing to say, but try to lessen the blow within). I am not saying you don't deserve kids, nor am I attacking anyone. I am just saying we have put some emphasis on these things with our minds. It isn't a terrible thing, but it doesn't serve to put us in a better place, in a place of evolution. Eventually we will all be some other species no matter what we do. Enough of that little tangent. Take away the importance and realize that you are a full life you and will find a sense of peace within. It might take awhile, it might happen suddenly, but it will happen. Eventually, whenever you do find that you are going to be having intercourse it will be of a different nature. Last, but not least. PMO is not an option This is the "original" phrase of my current no-relapse bout. Many will not understand this, but that's okay. It is tough. The phrase "cold turkey" comes to mind, and it might even bring a sense of dread with it. When I first come across this phrase I was met with that same dread! But, I knew there was something to it. I mean it was from someone who has been 7+ years free of the P drug. This IS certainly a kernel of tremendous possibility AND growth! I told myself this all the time, especially when I last relapsed. I wrote it on my chalkboard, I made it a background on my phone, and I reminded myself of this every time I felt that urge to go and watch something. Just like much of the phrases that I have shared above, this provided a sense of intelligence. Now, I have to find something to put me in a better mental state. I have to find something to do that makes me a better person. The struggles came and they were truly hard many times, but I always found a way to move beyond. I knew that I needed to retrain my brain, literally. I have to literally create new connections forcefully, and that is what I did by talking to myself and being available to greater possibilities. The acts that I have been and have become My demeanor Prior to truly accepting that I want to recover for me I was just kid. I saw how my actions resembled that of my kids, almost to a tee! Lashing out at my wife (that isn't "manly", that is utterly childish). Lashing out at my kids. Arguing with my kids. Staying locked into some kind of video entertainment and leaving my household responsibilities to the last minute and accomplishing them while utterly angry and frustrated. In short, I was a man-child, by definition. This is what happens to people who are addicted to something. They deprive themselves of maturation, with respect to the development of the brain. This has been shown in studies of addicted individuals. There is, in particular, the result of a lower functioning prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that governs impulse inhibition. After I had realized that, I became more conscientious of my actions. There were times of serious inner struggle and self loathing, but there was also moments of deep and necessary reflection. With respect to the addiction, there is significant correlation between one's ability to act in a mature manner and the level of their addiction to something. Addictions stunt your life, and the brain makes all kinds of excuses to justify this stunting effect. Slowly, and still, I have become a more grounded person. Not everything is an attack on "my time". Not everything is happening to stop me from doing what it is that "I" want (that sense of entitlement). Now, I am willing to HAPPILY do what I need to do for my family and my wife. My moments of life are becoming better every week. I still have rough days, of course. A rough-less life is impractical. The mathematician I want to be In short, the higher level mathematics, though thoroughly interesting for me, was unavailable to me. I was not able to retain whatever it is that I was learning at a higher level. For years and years I struggled with this. I knew that I wanted to be a mathematician but it never came to me, truly. I read and read and read. I did a plethora of exercises. I watched MIT videos, I tried to pry into the world of math, but nothing came to fruition. On some level I knew that I could achieve this goal of becoming a mathematician, but why was it not happening? My brain had been swallowed by my addiction(s). The longer I stayed away from the P and the more I meditated I started to unlock that which was already present, but cast into the darkness. I was "making room" in my brain for my life's goals, however small they may be. There was a math class that I took that was utterly difficult for me. The professor was very kind and allowed me a pass. But, I loved the theory that was involved in this class, but I could not understand nor put any of it to use. I still have the book. I opened it up a few weeks ago and I started reading through it... It was magic to me! Every word started reaching me on a different level. I could understand the material! I could finish the exercises quickly and without nearly the same amount of struggle that I had when I took the course a couple of years ago. Before, while in the class, I read this book over and over and over again. I went to the professor for help and I still could not understand the material. I truly believe that this is because of my willingness to shed my addiction. This ability to understand was not limited mathematics. It appears in many aspects of my life. The routines that I have taken I posted every single day in my journal. I reflected deeply on everything and I always tried to make sure to include all the "good things" that happened in the respective days. I didn't hold anything back. I needed to express everything because it took such a load off. You can find my journal in the 30s section. There are deeply personal things there that I know are not "accessible" to everyone and will not make sense to many, but, like I said, I needed to "let go" of things. This, I feel, I a necessary part to recovery. I do yoga and meditations everyday. Sometimes I miss a day, but never multiple days in a row. This really put me into a better state, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I also talked to myself and reassured myself as often as I could remember. I went spans of days, sometimes weeks, and other times months without looking at video entertainment (this is where one of the phrases I mentioned above comes in handy). With each bout of video-less days I found a new equilibrium internally. The need to sit down in front of a screen lessened. I spend a lot of time learning various disciplines. Mathematics, computer programming, physics, different languages, among other things. This is important because I believe it helps to feed your brain something. It must be something that interests you, something that requires you invest some energy in, for a good span of time. The people that helped me There is no other person that helped me as much as my wife @DefendMyHeart. She has taken the time to understand the addiction, and she has allowed me the opportunity to grow on my own. She has been so very patient with me, despite all the things that I have done and all the pain I caused her. In this respect I am very fortunate! If there was a time that I was feeling down she always tried to bring me back up. But, that effort on her part would mean nothing if I did not accept that I am needed and also a work in progress. Much love to my wife! My daughter also has been instrumental in my recovery, she is lower functioning autistic and she has needed me to attend to my situations on a level that I probably would have had trouble with for quite some time had it been otherwise. My daughter allows me the opportunity to grow and live selflessly. I am still annoyed sometimes, but I am learning. Again, I am a work in progress. There are those many friends that took the time to reach out to me in these forums. These are all wonderful people! Time is very valuable, and them setting aside some time to push me in a better direction is just amazing! Much love to all you! Lastly, I have found a sense of life from Sadhguru. His many teachings have put my mind in a much better place as I briefly explained above. I took the "spiritual route" in my journey. I have found some good lessons and good yogic practices in Sadhguru's practices. They have propelled me to another level. I can't really explain it, but it houses more than dealing with an addiction, but understanding the essence of life. Final words Hang in there. There is a much bigger possibility beyond addiction. Addiction doesn't give you anything. It takes and takes and takes endlessly. If you are struggling, remember that struggling isn't going to last forever, it is literally impossible that the struggle is going to last forever. Take the reins of your life. Put your life in your hands, stop living in impulsive response to the situations around you. You have the power to structure your brain any way that you want, do it. All the best to everyone!