Overcoming Sexual Fantasy

Discussion in 'Rebooting - Porn Addiction Recovery' started by daemonswithin, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    Of all the triggers that lead me to PM, sexual fantasy is at the top of the list. It's a phenomenon that all of us experience, but for some, including myself, it's an overwhelming force that pushes me to the very edge of relapse before I finally succumb to its power. How does one deal with fantasy? What techniques can be used to combat it? Is it even something that should be fought?

    Yes - it absolutely should be fought and is as much a problem as porn itself. The reason is quite logical and simple. Running porn scenarios in our mind produces the exact same effects as watching an actual porn video. If there's no difference to the "drug" itself, we're just talking about different delivery mechanisms. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected. Regardless of which method is the best, heroin is still the drug that is producing the desired high. It's the same with porn and fantasy. Those are 2 different delivery mechanisms for the exact same drug: dopamine.

    Over the years, I've read a lot about dealing with fantasy and various techniques that can be employed to keep it at a manageable level. It is the goal of this thread to create a consolidated list of those techniques in the hope that it will benefit any who come across it as well as help me as I progress in my own recovery. I encourage anyone to offer ideas and suggestions on how they've overcome fantasy, and as my knowledge and experience grows, so will this list grow and adapt.

    Techniques for Addressing Fantasy:
    1. One of the first techniques I came across is "Flipping Your Gremlin". The gist is we all have gremlins inside us that are there to protect us from uncomfortable feelings. The problem is, the results of that protection are often unhealthy and can lead to fantasy. For example, we have a gremlin that's trying to protect us from the uncomfortable feeling of being horny. The obvious result is for it to give us an artificial solution to that feeling through fantasy. Gremlins aren't inherently bad because their goal is to protect us, but what we need to do is flip the gremlin so that it will protect us in a healthy way that will allow us to grow stronger and not weaker through addiction. The source of this technique does a far better job of explaining than me. Simply google "How to Stop Fantasizing by Flipping Your Gremlin" and the youtube video will come up.
    2. There is a technique called "SNAPP" which is a method for controlling anger with regards to children. However, it was given to me as a way of controlling fantasy as well, and it has worked for me in the past:
      - Stop what you’re doing when you're triggered.
      - Notice what's going on in your body and mind.
      - Allow the experience to be just as it is.
      - Penetrate body sensations with deep breath.
      - Prompt yourself toward compassionate action.
    3. Meditation. This is not for everyone, but if you haven't tried this I would strongly encourage it. Meditation is about increasing mindfulness (related to the SNAPP technique above), and when we are mindful, we are more self-aware of our thoughts and emotions. The more mindful we become, the easier it will be to recognize fantasy as it starts and to then put it in its rightful place.
    4. Identify habits that lead to fantasy, and take immediate steps to break them. We are creatures of habit, and we often subconsciously adhere to those habits. For example, I'm in the habit of driving my children to school in the morning and returning home (I work from home). Many times over the years, I've had to run an errand after dropping off the kids, but I find myself pulling in to my garage before I realize I never ran the errand. That's the power of habit and making us "forget". If I'm in the habit of fantasizing every single morning before I get out of bed, that's an easy one to identify and work diligently to change. I just need to immediately get out of bed! If fantasy happens at specific times during the day or during specific activities, take steps to break the habit. If fantasy is prevalent during your commute to work, fill your mind with podcasts or something else that will break the habit.
    5. Work on never allowing your brain to become lazy. When our brains are not active, our subconscious wants to fill that void. Fantasy is at the top of the list. Work to fill your brain with something at all times that doesn't involve simply being still and fantasizing. Engage or start an activity that requires concentration. Sometimes it's as easy as doing a puzzle. There are countless things we can do to engage our minds. It's only when we're infected with laziness does it provide the perfect conditions for fantasy to fester.
    6. Write down the fantasy and identify the lies found within. Fantasy is and will always be what it is - a fantasy. Oftentimes I've been plagued by the same fantasy over and over, and it consumes my thoughts. The only way I've been able to diffuse or eliminate some of those fantasies are to write about them. I type them out, and then after it's written down, I write about all the reasons why this fantasy is false, what negative consequences will come of it, and how it's leading me to view porn. If I'm fantasizing about an affair, I write about the consequences to my wife and family. If I'm fantasizing about prostitution, I write about the expenses and dangers of STDs. The point is, inject a heavy dose of reality into the fantasy. Reality is fantasy's kryptonite.
    There are other techniques I'm sure I've not thought of. I intend to keep this thread alive and link to it in my signature. Please provide feedback and offer additional techniques that we can employ against this. If we can win the battle over fantasy, I truly believe we'll win the battle over any of our compulsions, including PM.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  2. Spectrum

    Spectrum Fapstronaut

    How about creating a non sexual fantasy in ur own mind?
    Broken2019 likes this.
  3. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    I've come to believe all fantasy is bad, but I'm not sure if that's the case for everyone. Personally, when I fantasize about something non-sexual, it always, without fail, leads to a sexual fantasy. I can be fantasizing about being a kung-fu master, and it turns into a white knight fantasy where I just saved a beautiful woman. If I ever find myself indulging in non-sexual fantasy, I know I'm already in trouble for that very reason. I would question the need for fantasy at all. It becomes an escape from reality, and I would prefer to live my life and make changes to it that produce joy and peace rather than relying on the false comforts of fantasy to provide an illusion of joy and peace.

    I actually had an internal debate about the thread title. I originally called it "Overcoming Fantasy" but decided on making it specifically about sexual fantasy because that's the real danger for me, and I don't know enough of others to make the generalization that all fantasy is a trigger or just sexual fantasies. Curious what you and others think on that issue.
  4. leo da king

    leo da king Fapstronaut

    I don't fantasize anymore thankfully:emoji_grinning:
  5. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    That's awesome! Did you employ any techniques to help you stop fantasizing, or were you able to just quit cold turkey and never turn back?
  6. leo da king

    leo da king Fapstronaut

    Cold turkey and never turn back. :)
    Broken2019 likes this.
  7. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    Well - congratulations. You are in the extreme minority and a very lucky one at that! I, unfortunately, have never been able to just stop fantasy or PM. Guess that's why I'm an addict.
    Broken2019 and leo da king like this.
  8. leo da king

    leo da king Fapstronaut

    I'm sure you'll get there someday:emoji_left_facing_fist:
    Broken2019 likes this.
  9. thedarkbird

    thedarkbird Fapstronaut

    Fantasize about real life sexual encounters and avoid porn fantasies? There's a big difference (for me that is): I can only masturbate to real life fantasies when I'm already horny but porn (fantasies) would get me out of ice age any time.

    It's probably not possible for the majority of people to totally ban fantasies from their life. If you can, sure, by all means. But honestly, that's not how I want to go through life. I want to enjoy sexuality the fullest way possible, just without the porn (fantasies).

    Again, addiction may differ from person to person, so everyone needs to make his/her own call on what to do or not to do. Just don't make it unnecessarily hard on yourself.
    MadsrMore, TColes098 and Broken2019 like this.
  10. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    As an addict for over 20 years, I can personally testify that any kind of sexual fantasy is a gateway trigger to porn use. I don't see a distinction between fantasizing about "real life sexual encounters" vs. "porn fantasies". I also never suggested that a majority of people totally ban fantasies from their life, just like I would never suggest a majority of people should ban alcohol from their lives. I would, however, strongly suggest that if you're an alcoholic, you can no longer drink alcohol socially or at all. That's the distinction. As porn addicts, fantasy is almost as bad as viewing porn with the exception that MO is probably not nearly as associated with fantasy, but when indulging in sexual fantasy, you're still reinforcing the exact same neural pathways as one who is viewing porn.

    You say it's not possible for the majority of people to totally ban fantasies from their life. Sure, just like it would be literally impossible for me to avoid having an attractive woman in revealing clothes cross my line of site for the rest of my life (unless I live as a hermit). However, it is possible for me to develop techniques for responding to instances when I encounter an attractive woman. My addictive self will leer and go out of my way to continue oogling her for as long as possible. My recovery self will engage the techniques I've practiced and honed over the years to respond to that trigger.

    It's the same with fantasy. I can't fantasize as a normal, non porn/sex addict person can. Therefore, I must have techniques to respond to fantasy whenever it enters my mind. Otherwise, I will never recover. This post is aimed at those who need to overcome sexual fantasy due to it being a trigger to PM.
  11. leo da king

    leo da king Fapstronaut

    20 years!!!! I'm only 14 :D
    P-KO likes this.
  12. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    And I think it's incredibly fortunate that you've recognized the dangers of PMO at your age. I commend you for your success, and I wish you a lifetime of healthy, sexual relationships without the shackles and chains of a sex addiction.
  13. thedarkbird

    thedarkbird Fapstronaut

    I understand. In that case avoiding fantasy is indeed your predicament.
    daemonswithin likes this.
  14. Spectrum

    Spectrum Fapstronaut

    How about turning ur fantasies into something like,
    For example,if u r having a fantasy about doing this and that to some girl,then fantasise a person whom u respect most could see these and u get caught.
    Or turn ur fantasies into some jokes
    daemonswithin likes this.
  15. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    Excellent idea, Spectrum. Thanks! I think this would fall under the category of deflating or reducing the power of the fantasy. Related almost to writing the fantasy out and identifying the lies within it as a method of defusing it. This would be a more mindful technique to address the appearance of fantasy right away. I'll figure out a way to add this to the list as a more immediate solution similar to that of SNAPP.
  16. Kick

    Kick Fapstronaut

    I also came to know that being fantasy about something often leads to porn use .Maybe I can now itself control my thoughts to be a better by flipping my gremlin.
    daemonswithin likes this.
  17. MrVaughn

    MrVaughn Fapstronaut

    Really good post. Fantasising is my problem.

    I've actively tried methods 3, 4 and 5 - meditation, changing habits and keeping the brain active - and all have given me success so far, but the idea that I will NEVER fantasise again is a difficult one for me to accept on an emotional level. I can imagine not looking at porn, but temptation to fantasise is always there in my brain. Like being in a waiting room, with my favourite fantasies behind the door, and knowing that if I open the door I'm going to be delighted, but also that I'll be back in the whole mess again. I sometimes wonder if I have to say "no" to opening the door as many times as I said "yes" to opening it in the past.

    So I try not to think about it being forever. I just do my best to stop the fantasy before it starts, occasion by occasion. That is becoming slightly easier. I just think about something else, or do something else. I've unearthed my Rubik's cube for this. But the most difficult time is when I am in bed with the light off about to go to sleep. I have to actively put something else in my mind. Like list in order the tracks on a favourite album, or list alphabetically my favourite football players or many other things. Sometimes now I get one of these ideas and I know it's "safe" to go to sleep.
    daemonswithin likes this.
  18. daemonswithin

    daemonswithin Fapstronaut

    I think #5 is the most important one for me at the moment. I've allowed my mind to become lazy, and there's nothing else for it to do but fantasize. I too struggled mightily with going to sleep and also with insomnia. I'm taking a sedative every night which has done wonders for that, but my wife and Dr. both inform me that I can't stay on them forever. At some point I need to wean myself off of them, but then fantasy will come roaring back.

    I think part of the issue is also self-discipline and training our minds to not only avoid going there, but to address the moments when our minds do end up fantasizing. It's a severe habit to just indulge whenever my mind if free. I'm glad it's getting easier for you. I doubt I will ever be able to completely eliminate fantasy from my life, but I can at least continue training myself to get better at it.

    Headspace had a great animation I saw where the analogy of us with our thoughts was like a man trying to walk through speeding traffic. The idea was to instead sit by the side of the road and let the traffic speed by. It's almost like with every sexual thought or fantasy, I just want to latch onto it and walk through it or dodge it, but what I should be doing is stepping aside and just letting those thoughts come and go.
    MrVaughn likes this.
  19. MrVaughn

    MrVaughn Fapstronaut

    Yes, I remember that video. And yes, you're right, it's also important to work on training the mind.

    I hope some of this stays with me. When I say "getting easier", I'm speaking relatively. The increments are tiny.
    daemonswithin likes this.
  20. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    On Tuesday I had my therapy session. I told my therapist that I was not finding nipping fantasies in the bud at all easy. Unlike watching porn or ogling passing women there's no obvious start: I only realise that I am fantasising when I am well into it. Her response: write it down!

    Her reasoning was not quite the same as @daemonwithin's, though when I told her about his point that shining a light on fantasies weakened them she wholeheartedly agreed. My notes are sketchy but she urged me to write each fantasy down to "see where the emotion is". She talked about a fault line and about seeing fantasy as an attempt at "triumph over trauma" (c.f. @daemonwithin's later statement that he uses fantasy "as an escape from dealing with my emotions in much the same way I used porn".) It's as if I have not been understood and the fantasy allows me to be understood, to triumph over the feelings. And so the brain keeps going and I'm locked into a story that allows me to escape. (My notes here paraphrase her, she was more cogent, but I couldn't get it all down quick enough.)

    The technique she suggested was to start with a title for the fantasy and then expand that out into an abstract which concentrates on the emotional narrative behind the fantasy. She took me by surprise and asked me to try one there and then. That was very difficult. It was hard to say it out loud, I chose one about someone undressing for me and letting me see their underwear as that's a common 'story' in my fantasies. The abstract was close to hand because the sense of acceptance is something I've written about in this journal. Then we reflected on my mum, her apprehensions around masculinity and how that's transferred to me. It was emotionally draining!

    My notes end with this:
    I'm going to have to work out how to take more understandable notes during therapy! But I think what she meant was that fantasies provide an immediate fix, in that they hide a deeper 'trauma' (I wouldn't use that word, it's too strong) but that you come out of them still feeling bad and so they do not provide the option of a long term fix.

    I can see now how writing my fantasies down might help me get underneath them to find out what they are really about. It's odd that my resistance around policing my fantasies was that they teach us about ourselves and now it is that policing technique that offers the real chance of learning about myself.

    I'm not sure I'll have the guts to actually write them down. As @daemonwithin says
    But I am already seeing a shift. In the days straight after my therapy session my fantasies disappeared completely and now that they are coming back I am puncing on them and mentally giving them a title and trying to think through the emotional narrative for the abstract. Perhaps I will find the courage to write them down. People reading this may not get why it'll take courage, but my apprehension is real and I was wiped out by the work we did in therapy. Valuable work.

    (N.B. this post is cribbed froma longer journal post here.)

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