There are two emergency plans every rebooter needs to know and apply succeed. The key word being apply.
They are based on the fact that willpower cannot be counted on, and taking extreme actions is always better than going back to zero.
The Red Alert Plan (RAP)
RAP is your pre-determined list of specific actions to take when an urge occurs.
If you are serious about rebooting, it won’t matter how large or small of an urge.
The mindset behind it is that when it comes to PMO, your brain is an addict’s brain. There must be minimal reliance on willpower and you will go to great lengths to minimize any chance of relapse.
Here is an example of a Red Alert Plan:
Block your internet
Whether you accomplish this via an internet blocker or unplugging the ethernet cable is up to you. You can either completely lock yourself out of the computer or just your access to the web browser.
Find a way that is difficult to undo the blocks during the period they are set for.
Block your access to the web, or preferably to your computer itself, for an hour minimum. For hard cases I would even recommend the rest of the day.
Also lock yourself out of your computer if you notice you are having multiple urges and/or intrusive fantasies and thoughts.
It’s always better to be offline than back to 0
Deal with the immediate urge
By favorite tool I mean:
- Holding your breath
- Punching your leg
- Doing pushups or squats
- Drinking cold water or splashing it on your face
- All of the above
Do what works best for you.
Leave the house
Get some head space.
Go out for a walk or hang out with a friend. Even hanging around other people by yourself in a café alleviates loneliness.
Take a book with you, listen to motivational music or go meditate in the park. Physical exercise is also a great option. It expels that excess sexual energy and acts as a willpower boost for the rest of the day.
The main idea is to keep busy and keep in a place where you are unable to relapse. What you actually spend this time doing is secondary.
Re-strengthen your focus on recovery.
If you don’t have already, jot down your dreams and vision for the future. Outline your personal motivations for taking part in rebooting and remind yourself of the negative effects of relapsing.
If you have previously put these on paper, bring them with you away from the house and read through them again.
Use any and all motivational material at your disposal; inspirational books, music and motivational speakers, though make sure your music player does not have internet connection.
This process re-focuses your mind on why and how you are going to recover from your porn addiction or ED.
The fact that you’ve had an urge gives a clue that you may have some pent up sexual energy.
Once you are out of the house, consider going for a walk or hitting the gym. This will increase your willpower for the rest of the day and tire you out so you will fall asleep faster.
By the time you’ve done a workout and a cold shower afterwards you should be well safe from your urge.
The above is just one example of a RAP. It will work best if you create a suitable one for yourself and keep tweaking it as time goes on and you learn new tools.
The most important thing is that your plan always starts with blocking your immediate access to arousing material easily and immediately.
This may be as simple as shutting down your computer, but I would suggest distancing yourself from it completely, because it’s too easy to turn it back on again.
Relapse Emergency Plan (REP)
A tool that is completely missing from our arsenal is the Relapse Emergency Plan.
Whereas the RAP is made to prevent you from relapsing, the REP acts to stop a relapse turning into a binge, causing further damage. If you are still in the streak mentality this may seem useless, but it may shave off weeks or months from your recovery time.
So how does the REP work?
The goal is to get through the rest of the day without relapsing again.
However there are a lot of forces at play. The chaser effect, the “fuck it” effect and the negative emotions that come with a relapse (no pun intended).
The assumption must be that there is only a brief window of time with any willpower control and that the REP must be executed within that window.
So here is how we use this knowledge to our advantage:
Lock yourself out of the computer or the internet whether it be disconnecting the Wi-Fi or using an internet blocker. Set at blocking time to be the rest of the day, if possible.
No blocker, and definitely not the disconnected Wi-Fi, will be infallible if you wish to relapse. This brings us to the next step:
Leave your house
Even with your computer blocked, get out of the house.
Quickly pack some things to pass the time with; a music player that doesn’t connect to the internet, a book and some money for a movie and maybe even food.
If you have a modern smartphone with internet access, leave it at home. I know it seems unthinkable, but do it none the less.
Get out of your door and preferably go somewhere with other people (although a long walk in nature isn’t a bad idea either). Go hang out in a coffee shop or a park.
The presence of other people, even strangers, can be soothing and work as a first aid to loneliness.
But do not spend time beating yourself up and berating yourself.
It does not benefit you in any way and despite your recent set back, you do not deserve the hate and punishment.
Don’t get bitter, get better.
Stay out of your house
This will be important. Even with your computer blocked, it’s a bad idea to hang around the house after a relapse.
That is especially true if you have a smart phone or other machines that can connect to the internet at home. Furthermore, with all your machines blocked you are likely to get bored. Not a good situation post-relapse at home alone.
This part is going to be important to get to sleep once you get home. Find some kind of physical activity or activities you can engage in during the rest of your day.
Even walking for extended periods is good, but it is best accompanied with a more intense type of workout like hitting the gym.
The goal is just to be really tired at the end of the day so that you’ll fall asleep quickly.
Sleep off the day to begin again
Go to sleep and get your rest.
The goal is to go from the front door straight to bed. Read a book before sleep if you want to, but don’t engage in any kinds of electronics.
Don’t worry about today’s relapse. Don’t even think about it when in bed or you will start to ruminate and prevent yourself from falling asleep.
Once you wake up the next day, analyze the previous days’ relapse. What caused it, what went wrong?
Remember that there may be more than one reason that lead to relapse. There may also be more than one thing you can do better this way round. Using that knowledge, create a better plan for the future.
And finally, pat yourself on the back that you go through a relapse day without binging!
Not many rebooters can do the same. Give yourself credit for this. It may seem meaningless, but remember to celebrate the small victories.
Go even eat some good food or some candy if you are not on a diet! Teach your brain to associate pleasure to NOT binging and to keeping in line with your recovery goals.
Everything above is just an example of an REP. You can (and should) mold it to fit your particular situation.
But don’t mold it in such a way that you allow an easier time for yourself, more freedom to binge.
As you may have noticed, the RAP and REP are quite similar.
The main idea with both is to immediately remove yourself from danger. This is vital because you should never trust your willpower to keep you in check while remaining in a relapse-able situation.
Both of these may seem quite extreme measures. While I agree, they most certainly are useful and necessary.
If in doubt ask yourself this: Do you want to suffer the annoyance of taking preventative measures for three months, or suffer the struggle of recovery for three years?
Because if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.
It pays to be a winner! – US Navy Seals
- Modify the RAP and REP to apply to your current life situation
- Write them on a piece of paper that you can keep near your computer
- Start executing both plan and improve your approach over time