You're doing your best. You've known for a while that pornography has become a problem in your life. You're seeing how often you get triggered, and how integral porn has become as a way to escape or numb your emotions.
You may not completely understand why this hurts your wife or girlfriend.
You may have some embarrassment, or resentment towards people you think are making a bigger deal out of this than you think it is.
All this aside, you want to get away from pornography because you know it's harming things you care about. You want to be a good role model for your kids and spend healthy time with the family. You want to enjoy real sex again.
You want to stop isolating yourself to stare at your computer screen rather than hanging out with your friends. It's just so hard to back away from it. Pornography plus masturbation rewires the brain, making you feel, over time, like you need it.
But it's possible to break free, unwire the wiring, rewire things to your specifications, and stop watching porn. It takes some concentrated effort in the beginning, but in time, you may start seeing huge rewards in your day-to-day life. It will become easier and easier.
Together with accountability, a solid support system, even professional counseling, we at Ever Accountable think you can do it.
As part of your positive arsenal, I've created for you... The Awesomeness List!
Once you notice that you're triggered, decide that you're not going to give in this time, and distract yourself. This will give you time for the temptation fade, and for you to notice how much better off you are if you do literally anything else.
There are so many things you can do instead of looking at porn, and I can bet any one of them is going to be more rewarding, giving you what you really want rather than a short-lived escape.
So what are you waiting for?
Shut down your device...
- Make a list of things you're grateful for.
- Read your favorite prayer, mantra, bible verse or saying. It might be a good idea to keep this on hand.
- Watch a good movie--with someone!
- Write a letter to God, to your "higher self," to the universe, to the earth.
- Play an instrument. As my buddy Squidward says, "I've got a hot date with a little lady, and her name is Clarinet." If you don't know how to play one, maybe it's time to learn.
- Write a letter or card of compassion for yourself. When you're triggered, read it to yourself.
- Learn to become present with your emotions. I know. Super fun. But seriously. If you're using porn to avoid or numb your emotions, they're probably not going to go away unless you address them head-on.
- Take your nieces and nephews to a local pumpkin patch or orchard.
- Sit outside and watch the clouds go by.
- Go out dancing.
- Help your grandma with something.
- Make the cashier's day at the grocery store.
- Go to a rock climbing gym and start lookin' dumb while getting a great workout.
- Go to a sports event.
- Look up concerts playing tonight and find someone to go with you.
- Play a sport you can't do alone, like catch or miniature golf.
- Kick around a soccer ball or play catch with your kids or with a friend.
- Go to the plant nursery and buy a tree. Take it home. Dig a hole. Plant the tree. In 10 years, bask in its shade.
- Listen to an episode of a podcast while walking, working in the yard or eating lunch. There are a lot of free, entertaining podcasts full of loads of information out there. It can be enriching and spark whole areas of interest for you.
- Get a haircut.
- Start designing your dream house.
- Pray or meditate.
- Visit a tourist attraction in your own town. Pretend like you're in a new town and you're looking at your town with new eyes. Take pictures, write a poem, let it captivate you somehow. Whatever your version of tourism looks like.
- Make a list of your top 10 values and post it in your room. When you're triggered, ask yourself if looking at pornography is in line with your values. Decide to do something that is.
- Spend 30 minutes practicing another language. If you don't know one, start learning one.
- Sing or whistle.
- Write a story about you or someone else.
- Make a list of people you admire, listing qualities about them that you respect, and then list qualities you already share with them. Choose 1 you don't share with them that you'd like to. Come up with one action you can take right now to be more in line with that quality.
- Make a list of 10 things you would like to do before you die, or 10 things you would like to do with your kids before you die. Start planning to do one.
- Write a letter to someone who has positively influenced you. Thank them. Mail it.
- Blast music in the living room or in your room and dance around. If someone sees you, pull them in to join.
- Lounge in a hammock and read or sketch.
- Memorize some jokes to have up your sleeve.
- Make a short film with someone else.
- Think of a fear you wish you could overcome, know that the best way to overcome fears is to face them, come up with a plan for facing it, and take the first step right now.
- Go to the mall and people-watch.
- Take your kids to the park or out for ice cream.
- Eat ice cream outside.
- Go to the movie theater and see whatever's on next.
- Play with your pet, take your dog to a dog park, or borrow someone else's dog to take there.
- Join a local theater group and start acting. When the trigger hits, become another character who doesn't have a problem with porn.
- Take a bath, but leave all electronics (except music) out of the bathroom.
- Go to a local college and sign up for a class.
- Make someone smile.
- Read a favorite, always inspirational poem or book.
- Do a puzzle. Dorky, maybe, but it can be fully engaging and perplexing.
- Go to a museum.
- Start a blog about your journey to life without porn. So many people could benefit from reading this.
- Get a pedicure.
- Clip your nails. If you're a nail painter, paint them.
- Do something thoughtful for someone else.
- Go to the library or a bookstore, get a tea, and sit and read. This is still the best.
- Clean something out! Energy you would be using starting at a tablet could be redirected into something useful. Clean out your medicine cabinet or bathroom sink and throw out bottles you're not using anymore.
- Go outside and look at the birds.
- Put together a box of things you don't need or want, and donate them.
- Go shopping.
- Go on a motorcycle ride.
- Wash your or someone else's car by hand, or take it to a car wash and listen to some good music while you're getting it washed.
- Invite someone over, bake a dessert and watch The Great British Baking Show.
- Make popcorn and watch a game with your family.
- Go to your local homeless shelter, Habitat for Humanity or food bank and ask about volunteering. Sign up.
- Work on your or someone else's car. Change the oil by hand this time instead of taking it in.
- Do you have an art you used to love before you had a laptop and a job? Whatever creative thing your 14-year-old self used to think about, pick it up again. Don't worry about getting good at it. In fact, you should aim at just playing at it, possibly for the rest of forever. We learn that creative ventures need to make money in order to be worthwhile. Wrongo! Artistic expression is good for anxiety, depression and improves your mood. Messing around with a painting or a sketch, or fiddling with your guitar, or throwing a pot on the wheel, for fun, with no hope of improving, could be just what the doctor ordered. Note: You may coincidentally improve.
- Go stargazing! There are some incredible apps that let you learn about the constellations.
- Go on a walk through a cemetery. I find this peaceful, but you might not. If you don't, then don't do it.
- Rearrange your furniture. If you are living with someone, maybe they won't like this when they get home. If they hate it, great! Put it all back.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Go for a jog. While you're running, imagine that your problem, whatever it is, is getting solved little by little as your feet hit the ground.
- Watch a sunrise or sunset. Seriously! It's cliche, but how many times have you actually sat and watched the colors change? Do it with a cup of hot chocolate, preferably while cuddling. It's way more awesome in real life than you think.
- Pick up a crazy new adventure sport, like paragliding, surfing, canyoneering or whitewater rafting. If you always wanted to, you'll always want to. There's no better time to start than now!
- Work on one of your projects. You know the ones I mean. It might be good to keep a list of projects to jump into when the trigger hits.
- Look for new music to listen to, and build a playlist. You might need to do this in a crowded area to avoid temptation.
- Create a playlist to help you when you re-triggered. Listen to it while jogging, driving, walking, or riding a bike.
- Make a playlist for someone else, and share it with them. This is very personal and feels wonderful to receive.
- Go on a hike. If you grew up with "hike" sounding like a chore where your parents make you hike hard in the name of "fun," because they're granola tree-huggers and they want you to "build character," then tell yourself it's a "nature walk" instead.
- Take pictures.
- Tend to all the plants in the house, and maybe go get a new one.
- Mow the lawn, trim hedges, plant flowers.
- Find a book on origami. Every time you're triggered, make an origami bird or flower. String them together, and soon you'll have a lovely (and meaningful) decoration.
- Pick up a new hobby. Ever wondered about woodworking, whittling, or model train-building? Go to a hobby store and start asking questions. Start small and see if you like it. When you're triggered to look at pornography, put in 30 minutes towards your new hobby instead.
- Pay the bills or fill out that one form and sent it in. If there's a monkey on your back, shake it off.
- Plan a weekend adventure, like camping, kayaking or a short road trip to a small town you haven't been to before. Try to go with someone. Go!
- Play a board game. They're not just for kids, and they're not just bored games. There are tons of board and card games that are serious fun if you give them a chance.
- Learn a new form of exercise, like yoga (not just for women!), weight lifting or a form of martial arts.
- Join a gym and work out right now.
- Go to a park, lie in the sun and take a nap.
- Go to a new restaurant and try a new dish.
- Treat someone to a nice meal out.
- Organize something, like your closet.
- Go fishing. Don't know how? Teach yourself.
- Drive until you see wildflowers. Pick a bouquet and leave them on the doorstep of someone you love.
- Go outside. Just go outside. Right now. Do it.
- Make your own list of things to do instead of look at porn and post it in your bedroom.
- Go for a brisk walk. Is there anything a walk can't help, even slightly?
- Go out for a cup of tea or coffee with a friend.
- Text or call a friend.
- Ask someone to hang out with you who you think you'd like to get to know better.
- Cook a good meal, for just you or for others. Maybe try out a new recipe!
- Write in a journal. Don't have one? Get one. I purposefully avoid fancy journals because they intimidate me. Get a college-ruled notebook for $1, a pen, and you're squared away. Try writing down what you're thinking, feeling. Maybe write about what triggered you to look at pornography this time.
- Seek out your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, and be with them in this moment, whatever they' re doing. If they're not around, make a list of reasons you're thankful for them. If you're single, make a list of reasons you're thankful for yourself.
Finally, have compassion for yourself.
Whatever you're going through is difficult, and the fact that you're reading this means you care. That matters. So let's get moving.