How to Quit Watching Porn

First of all, good job getting this far.

Unfortunately, the majority of men they will never get to the point of discovering how crippling porn has been to their lives, they’ll never wake up from the stupor and they will continue to waste energy for years.

But not you – you’re well on the way to breaking the habit and addiction to watching porn, but before you get to the action steps you first need two things: A Goal and a why, they will have to come from you – no one on can write them for you.

As Viktor Frankl said in his timeless book Man’s Search for Meaning “He who has a why can bear almost any how.”

If you’re going to kick this habit for good, get your why straight.

Once you have a goal and strong enough why the process for how will be a lot easier, although it will be tough, years of stimulation has rewired your brain – if you haven’t taken the time to learn about the effect porn has on our brains I advise you first read this article.

Phases

Porn has changed you.

Depending on how long you’ve been watching it and with what frequency the changes to your behavior and neurobiology are massive. The porn has rewired your brain to associate digital stimulation with pleasure, and since those doses of dopamine are so large it actually makes life significantly less stimulating, thus encouraging the cycle of watching pornography.

This is called the rewiring, most of the difficulty of quitting porn is getting to disconnect those neurological wires.

The process of breaking these connections is called the rebooting phase. At first we want to weaken the connections, and then we want to replace them. Eventually the pleasure you once derived from pornography will me nonexistent, and you might even be repulsed by it.

The ultimate recommended goal for overcoming these associations in your brain is 90 days of no PMO. This means that you should refrain from ejaculating for about 3 months, the order of importance in order. With porn being the most destructive.

Porn: No masturbating to, or viewing porn (yes, not even peeking)

Masturbation: No masturbating.
Orgasm: No hooking up.

That’s what’s required for the rebooting phase

Set a goal

What is the goal?

Well, since you’re reading this your goal I can presume is to Quit Watching Porn.

But let’s get more specific than that, let’s be precise.

For how long?

What is defined as porn?

What about masturbating without porn? (I recommend not for the rebooting phase)

These are questions that you need to clarify in your own space.
How to find your why

Why is this goal important to you?
Why are you going to quit watching porn?
What will happen if you keep watching porn?

In Jordan Peterson’s Self Authoring program he encourages not only to have a direction where you want to go, but you should also have an anti-direction of where you’re going.

Not only should you be moving away from watching porn but you should be moving toward something else, your best self. You can simultaneously remind yourself of what benefits will come after quitting that habit and filling in that void with healthier habits. What are you moving toward?

You should be moving away from porn and toward a better you, the best you that has ever existed.

Your why should remind you of how badly your life can suck if you don’t kick this habit. You’ll remained chained to this addiction that drains your energy and doesn’t allow you to create or maintain meaningful romantic relationships.

Your why can also remind you of how incredible your potential is and of all the healthy habits you can replace watching porn with.

Have you tried lifting, or meditation?

This is a good opportunity to join a Crossfit gym or maybe start a fat heavy diet. All of these things will begin to come easier for you as your willpower stops getting drained from you.

Start the Habit

Now that you’ve looked inside yourself for the motivations and reasons, we’re going to go a little external, we’re going to start the process by looking at our habits and then changing our physical environment.
Write Down Your Triggers and Patterns

Very much like other toxic behaviors or even browsing social media the temptation to watch porn is a response to a stressor placed on your mind. Years of training your mind to watch porn in response to emotion X has hard wired you to react to certain triggers.

In order to be better prepared for when those triggers arise, you need to define what they are and create actions that you will respond to them with. Otherwise, you will have little awareness when those triggers hit you and will just go through the hard-wired motions that you are acclimated to. At first it will be tough. But if you know what to expect you’re more likely to pull through rather than just go through the impulsive motions.

Your mind likely does not feel a need to watch porn when you’re playing a video game or watching a movie. Likewise, we’re not watching porn when spending the weekend with friends or sitting in the park – because that’s perverted but also because we’re enjoying ourselves.

However, the moment your mind wants to escape from an emotion – that is when your brain goes through the motions of:

Negative feeling > Escape > Porn

We can replace this automated programming with

Negative feeling > Awareness > Not porn

Escapism is a way escaping negative emotions. At first it seems like a good idea to distract yourself from pain, but if you never allow yourself to feel pain you’re ignoring crucial signs in your life that This is bad and by distracting yourself you will never get the motivation or clarity to improve those situations. This is a large part of why people go through such massive self improvement cycles after quitting porn – they’re no longer running away from their problems.

So, you need to find out what your triggers are, here are a couple of examples:

Anxiety related to work or school
Difficulty sleeping
Seeing provocative photos online
Dating apps
Boredom
Low Energy
Loneliness

Take a few seconds and think about when you generally are drawn towards watching porn. What are your patterns of behavior, do you watch it in bed? At work?

Keep this in mind, quitting porn is difficult and porn users have similar neurological signals when viewing porn as cocaine addicts do when on cocaine according to a study in Cambridge University.

Your triggers are going to be hard to fight, at first you’re going to get urges so incredibly strong that you’ll want to give in immediately.

They’re going to be as strong as your compulsion to eat when hungry. Your brain has associated these triggering behaviors with the dopamine release that porn gives you. It has literally taken years and years (depending on when you began) to build these connections.

The most difficult part is the start, every time that you deny your brain these dopamine hits you’re simultaneously weakening these impulses and strengthening your resistance muscle.
Change Your Environment

Once you identify your habits and triggers you can make a few changes to your environment.

If you found that you frequently had the urge when laying in bed and can’t fall asleep without it, consider trying to do a short meditation or have a chamomile tea.

If during work your boss has given you a massive workload first thing on a Monday and until now you’ve been reacting going to the bathroom to watch porn, well you might want to try having a cup of tea (or meditation).

Basically just meditate and drink tea, just kidding.

You’re slowly going to replace your initial knee jerk reaction to the triggers with different habits. Replacing your habits is going to be a lot easier than getting rid of the feelings altogether, since getting rid of boredom or anxiety is not particularly realistic and frankly it is important to feel these emotions. It’s how our body lets us know what the hell is going on.

So instead of getting rid of, we’re replacing our impulsive reactions to them.

Block all Access

If you’re starting the Keto diet and want to minimize carbs and sugar intake, the first thing to do is to get rid of all your carbs and sugar. Of course you can keep in your kitchen for special occasions, but then you’d have to rely on willpower to not touch those Oreos in moments of weakness.

But instead when starting a new diet just clean out your house of all the junk. Instead of using willpower to say no everytime you have an Oreo craving – just don’t have the Oreos.

This is the nuclear option and frankly it’s underused, willpower is expensive.

When trying to build new habits we can benefit from as many brute force solutions as possible. That is, until we have those habits neurologically strengthened. Instead of relying on our willpower to do all the heavy lifting we can just tailor our environment to minimize chance of slipping.

So get rid off all your porn. If you’ve downloaded, bookmarked, copied links, own memberships, got a magazine, DVDs, video cassettes, film rolls. It does not matter.

Burn it all on a pyre and dedicate that pyre to your new future.

Install Internet Blockers

This is a debated topic, because we know we can get around them. Yes, even if you block your computer you can open an incognito window. Or if you block it on your phone you can get a VPN.

There will always be ways around it. However, this is merely a first line of defense against our initial impulsions. For 10 years you’ve been operating and strengthening this neurological connection and the more barriers we place in between you and the reward (dopamine) the more we weaken that connection.

Depending on your computers and smartphone brand this can get complicated, you can check out this for your phone and this for your computer.
Change your routine

We’ve already discussed triggers, and while many of them are not avoidable we’re going to change our routine where we can.

Set some ground rules for electronic use in the home. There are a few levels of rules but the most basic I recommend is disallowing laptop and phone use in bed, if you can afford to – ban it from the bedroom altogether.

In addition to simply helping your sleep by reminding you that bed = sleep. You’re going to prevent yourself from the most common slip up – laying in bed before sleep and going onto a dirty website.

Now – you read and sleep in bed.

Next, Temptational Triggers.

Dating apps have got to go. While we encourage you to interact with real life women as much as possible, in the rebooting phase of quitting porn you’re likely still objectifying women more than you realize. By stopping to use dating apps you’re no longer going to be tempted by constantly seeing photos of attractive and underclad women. You’re going to have to meet women in person and I promise that you will if you follow this guide.

As far as media: Movies, TV and YouTube can be risky, depending on the person they can act as triggers as well. Minimizing your media intake and ensuring that you don’t watch provocative tidbits will allow your mind to wander and enjoy more traditional forms of pleasure. Such as going outside or having a good workout.

I strongly recommend you clean up your watching habits. On day 6 of your first time doing hard mode just a glimpse of a woman in a bikini will be hard to resist, trust me.
Maintaining the Habit
Redirect your energy
Something incredible is going to happen in the first few days of your new habit.

You’re going to have so, much, fucking, energy.

Of course for everyone it will be different, some sooner and some later. But everyone will have more energy. The truth is this energy has always been inside of you – you’ve just been wasting it on pixels.

Now, find ways to sublimate this energy into more productive things. If you don’t find an outlet for this newfound potency – it will find its way back to porn.

Chapter 12 of the classic book Think and Grow Rich focuses on historic titans that used their sex drive to build empires. You too can use this energy, it’s the most powerful human desire in the world.

The options are literally endless, however I recommend you focus on the 4 basic pillars of life.

Health
Wealth
Love
Happiness

What can you do in your life to improve those pillars?

I recommend you pick up one new habit in each of these.

Are you taking care of your health? Do you eat junk food, drink soda, go to the gym on a weekly basis?

If you don’t start now and you’ll never look back.

Are you doing your best to financially support yourself or your family?
Are you happy in the work you do, can you learn a new skill?

As far as love goes, you may think that it means romantic love and that you need to find a girlfriend. This is wrong.

You need to become the best version of yourself. The girlfriend will come, I promise. When you have a healthy relationship with yourself people will take notice and be drawn to you.

Happiness can never be found, it’s elusive, but if you stop giving into your root desires and take control of your sexuality instead of it controlling you, when you wake up on time to go to the gym, when you eat cleanly and when you’re supporting yourself happiness will be a byproduct.

Fill your life with better habits.
Find Accountability Partners
An overlooked an extremely valuable step.

If I had to choose the absolute king of self development I would choose accountability.

Men thrive in environments of people that want the best for them. If you want to become a better person, surround yourself with people who are (a) Better than you at things you struggle with (b) Want the best for you (Jordan Peterson’s Rule 3: Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You).

The structure should be simple but strict. A simple way to start is to schedule talks on a weekly basis and walk through all your challenges, plans and failures.

You will fail during this challenge, I hate to say it but I know zero people who have never relapsed into the old habit.

Instead of trying to avoid failures altogether, embrace them, learn from them, and take those lessons for the next round. Use your accountability partners to discuss these failures, and if they want the best for you they will help you overcome them.

Keep Track of Progress

You know what your goal is, now break that goal down into smaller steps or milestones.

A common goal is to go 90 days “Hard Mode” that is no Porn, Masturbation, or Orgasm (PMO). A simple way of tracking progress is to pull up a calendar and write down 90 days from now. A friend of mine put 90 Post-its up on his wall.

Every morning, get out of bed and take another Post It off the wall or mark another day in the calendar. It will give you the vision for a future and remind you what your goal is.

Remind yourself how far you’ve come. Encourage yourself and you’ll only become stronger.
Relapsing
It’s strange writing a section called relapsing, as if I don’t believe you will be successful in overcoming the addiction. But the truth is everyone will be successful, whether it’s for a day, a week or a month.

I am 100% confident that if you give this a shot you will succeed at fighting the addiction. However, everyone folds at some point in time. You will fold either next week, or next year and so that is why we are going to talk a little bit about how you should handle these events that feel like the end of the world.
Treat Yourself Like Your Best Friend

If your friend is trying to quit his addiction to porn and every time he relapses he comes to you and tells him how difficult this challenge is for him would you yell at him “Yeah you stupid sonofabitch why can’t you just stop fucking around”?!

This is rhetorical of course. When our friends come to us for advice, we empathize and give them support and a hug. We want the best for our friends and we know that that yelling at them won’t help them.

As Mark Manson writes in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck we create feedback loops, and whatever goes in there will create a loop of feedback into itself. By yelling at ourselves in a way that we would never yell at our friend, we create feedback loops of “I am a piece of shit” and eventually we’re going to believe it.

When you mess up, and this does not only apply to quitting pornography – we need to be firm yet gentle with ourselves. We need to treat ourselves like a child and give ourselves a hug every time we trip trying to walk our first steps.

I’ve tried the other way, self criticism simply doesn’t work.

Self acceptance is the only way.

When you fuck up and I hope you don’t, be understanding with yourself and treat yourself like you treat your best friends.
Back to the Basics

When you relapse, go back to the basics. Remind yourself why you’re doing this, read your why read your goals. Find out where you were triggered and what that event was like, how can you avoid it for the next time.

Relapse is not final, it’s not even close to final. You can relapse for the next 6 months but if every time you recover and come out of this stronger and wiser, you’ll overcome this.

What’s Next?

Realizing there are negative side effects is a first step in healing.  Please take a few minutes to take our Porn Addiction Test to discover how we can help break the patterns and begin living a healed life of fulfillment. 

You are meant to live a life of purpose not one consumed by porn. There is freedom available to you today.