Reliance on willpower is the most detrimental and widespread problem currently in the rebooting community.
It has caused more harm and relapses than any other approach put together.
Run the numbers
I’ll start off by disabusing you the notion of willpower’s reliability.
Shhh… it will be quick.
How reliable would you state your own willpower? How many percent of the time you can power through an urge?
20%? 80%? 99%?
Let’s be extremely optimistic and say that your willpower can handle 99% of your urges. Inversely, that means 1% of the time you succumb to the temptation.
The common reboot is three months long.
With three urges per day on average (which is a conservative estimate for most if we’re being honest) you are looking at 270 urges.
At 99% willpower success rate, you will relapse almost three times.
Which effectively means, you will NEVER achieve the full reboot.
And let’s be honest here, nobody’s willpower beats 99 urges out of 100.
Willpower works like a muscle
I thoroughly recommend every rebooter read a book called the Willpower Instict by Kelly McGonigal.
One of the biggest revelations I took away from that book is that willpower works just like a muscle.
Which means it fatigues from use.
When you use willpower to beat an urge, it becomes less likely you will be able to do so with the next urge. Just like doing a set at the gym makes the muscle weaker for the next one.
And eventually it fails.
The same is true for willpower. The more you use it, the more likely it is to fail the next time you really need it.
Let’s extend our gym analogy to recovering from porn addiction.
If using willpower counts as lifting, then rebooters are hitting that gym multiple times a day. Lifting heavy every time as well, squatting and deadlifting.
Do not forget that regular life already taxes our willpower daily.
- Don’t feel like getting up early? Willpower gets used.
- Resistant to taking that cold shower? Willpower gets used.
- Choosing a healthy meal over that delicious cake? Willpower gets used.
Between a questionable amount of willpower to begin with, and working it towards failure throughout the day, relying on willpower for your recovery is like playing russian roulette.
Even though I paint a dreary picture of your chances for success, the situation is not hopeless.
All we need to do is approach the problem with a clear and steady mind.
The two main problems that we have with willpower in regards to rebooting is:
- We face so many urges that it becomes statistically unlikely to beat them all.
- Our willpower gets fatigued with use and becomes increasingly unreliable as the day goes on.
Two problems means two solutions. Let’s start with the first one.
Improving the odds
Because the issue is the sheer amount of urges we face during our reboot, the logical solution is to lower that number.
At first glance, this may seem like an impossibility. We obviously cannot control our cravings!
Not directly, no. We cannot order our brain not to crave porn anymore.
Most likely any focus on craving it less would actually lead to the opposite effect taking place. But we can misdirect our mind.
The engaged brain seeketh not porn.
In your mind, go back to a time when you were doing something really engaging. Something that you could lose yourself in.
Most likely it was something fun and positively challenging.
It might have been a video game, a movie, a good book, a sport or a physical activity you were taking part in.
Could also have been time spent travelling, hanging out with friends, or even schoolwork that you had to get done.
Right now the activity is less important than the effect: did you experience urges while doing it?
I can almost certainly say your answer is an immediate no.
Because you were doing an immersive activity, your mind engaged with it completely. Your narrowed focus and attention didn’t leave room to crave porn.
The logical result here is this: every rebooter should aim to maximize their leisure time spent doing engaging activities.
Not only is that time “safe” due to reduced urges, but it is also one of the most entertaining ways of spending your free time.
Time flies when having fun, which makes your reboot seem to progress faster and makes it infinitely more enjoyable.
Further reducing urges
But we cannot be immersed and engaged all the time.
Life is full of less enjoyable but necessary tasks and responsibilities we must take part in, school and work to mention two most common ones.
Which means that we must find another way to reduce urges besides immersion.
The solution comes from the problem itself.
While it is true that we experience vastly reduced urges when we are deeply immersed in an enjoyable activity, we also experience the same effect when we are otherwise occupied.
Do you experience urges when you are with your friend, at a public place or at work?
The answer may be yes for some. For most however, during times we are unable to act on our cravings, they rarely occur.
The Unholy Trinity: Access, Privacy and Boredom
Which makes the second urge reducing action: always keep away from temptation.
What this means in practice depends on your life situation.
It could mean being around other people as much as possible, going offline, or anything else you can think of.
Just stay busy, in places and situations where you can’t relapse and away from any electrical devices you can relapse with.
For the duration of your reboot, always put as many obstacles between you and relapsing as you possibly can.
Addressing fatigued willpower
Our second problem was that through repeated use, our willpower becomes increasingly unreliable as the day goes on.
The logical solution for this is to minimize all the other uses for willpower.
I don’t know about you, but I want my willpower all fresh and energetic for what really matters: beating those urges.
This primarily means identifying useless willpower sinks in your daily life.
Do you have unhealthy foods in your home that you struggle not to eat? Are you pushing yourself to take cold showers?
Maximizing your willpower potential also means rebooting as smartly as possible.
If you are browsing the internet all day, it is quite likely continuously seeping away your mental fortitude to keep yourself from relapsing. After all, everything is just a couple of clicks away at all times.
Help your willpower out by preparing for emergencies
Be prepared for those unwanted situations.
It takes little effort to instantly switch over to pre-planned steps of removing yourself from a bad situation.
However, it takes a humongous effort to stop and then start to figure out what to do instead.
When an urge is about to get a strangle hold and a relapse is staring you in the face, you need to fucking know how to get out of that situation.
So if you haven’t created emergency plans to prevent relapses and binges, do so right fucking now.
I have done skydiving in my life and if someone slapped me awake at three in the morning and told me to demonstrate emergency procedures, I could do it instantly. It’s been years since my last jump, but this still holds true.
That’s the level of preparation I want you to have for your reboot. Feel an urge coming? You should know immediately what to do, and frankly, already be doing it.
Have you ever heard of the three second rule?
I first learned it from the seduction community. It states that you have three seconds to approach that woman, before your brain will talk you out of it.
Three seconds before paralysis and failure.
I have later learned the rule to be commonly used with weight loss as well. Three seconds of time to choose that healthier option at the store.
The principle applies to recovery as well.
When that urge hits, you have three seconds to start taking preventative action and removing yourself from the situation before your brain talks you into relapsing.
Which is why you need those emergency plans before being knee deep in shit.
Re-energizing your willpower
According to the Willpower Instinct, there are ways to “recharge” your willpower.
Because it works just like a muscle, proper rest and recovery efforts go a long way.
The way to go abour recharging your willpower is not rocket science. Quite the contrary, your best actions are very common sense ones.
1. A good nights sleep
Sleeping enough high quality sleep is vital to keeping your willpower in peak shape.
This makes instant sense, being tired always leads to bad moods, inattention and all kinds of poor decisions.
2. Healthy and nutritious meals
Remember to eat healthy throughout your reboot.
Giving your brain the nutritients and energy it needs helps it make the right decisions when it counts.
Hitting the gym does more than release that pent up energy you got coursing through your veins.
It has also been shown to recharge your willpower. Even if you have to push yourself to go to the gym, the result is a net positive in the end.
The long story short of all this is to rely on willpower as little as possible and use the remainder as effectively you can.
Put into one commandment, it would look like this:
Plan your reboot as if you had no willpower at all at your disposal.
Heed that and you can’t go wrong.
If this topic interests and resonates with you, I can whole heartedly recommend the Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.
- Reflect on your current process of rebooting. How are you currently relying on willpower?
- Reflect on your current daily life, and remove any unnecessary willpower sinks you may have
- Reflect on your day to day life. In what ways can you reduce urges by being busier, more engaged and reducing your access to porn?