In case you are taking part in The Great 120 Days Without Porn Challenge, how was your first week? Was it easy for you or rather difficult? If it was difficult, did it get easier through out the week or did you even relapse?

As you might have noticed, it’s not that easy to just stop watching porn and there is one reason for it. You have most likely habitualized watching porn and masturbating over time making it rather difficult to just stop. You in fact might have to invest quite a bit of willpower to not give in to your urges. Am I right?

Well, if you habitualized watching porn, there is again bad and good news. Let’s start with the bad news. The bad new is you can’t just get rid of a habit. It’s simply not possible but what you can do, and that is the good news, is that you can replace a habit with another habit. But before we get into the science of replacing habits, in our case watching porn, we first need to understand what a habit actually is and why we do have habits in the first place.

“Habits […] are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously.” (Wikipedia) The important aspect here is tend to occur subconsciously. This means that we don’t consciously decide to do it rather our subconscious automatically starts the routine.

But why did our brain evolve to create habits? If our brain wouldn’t be able to create habits, we would have a hard time surviving, because we constantly had to learn everything we do from scratch and we would have to make hundreds of conscious decisions all the time. This would really be exhausting.

This means habits actually help us to navigate everyday life effortlessly but not all habits are healthy or productive and our subconscious can’t unfortunately distinguish between good and bad habits. It rather makes the decision going for instant gratification and instant gratification most of the time isn’t what’s good for us in the long run.

Now in order for us to change any habit, we need to understand the underlying mechanics of habits and use our cortex (higher brain functions) to override habits our limbic system (older part of our brain) created.

UNDERSTANDING THE HABIT LOOP

The habit loop consists of three elements. The Cue (seeing pornographic images or videos) can function as a trigger that starts the Routine (binging on pornography and masturbating) which leads to the Reward (release of dopamine in our brain that makes us feel good) what we actually crave after we experienced the cue.[frame_center title=”The Habit Loop” src=”http://sexgodproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/cue-routine-reward-habit1.jpeg”] [/frame_center]Now there is two options. Either we avoid the cue, in this case watching pornographic images or videos, which should prevent us from craving the reward and going after it by performing the routine.

But, there are many other cues, such as being home alone, feeling emotionally imbalanced such as feeling stressed or alone, that will cue us in the habit loop as well. We can’t get rid of these cues and it’s hard to just ignore the craving for the reward but what we can do is, we can replace the routine that will get us to the reward we crave for.

First and for most it’ important to get aware of your cues and what your reward is for watching porn. Do we watch porn when we feel stressed to relax again? Do we watch porn when we are home alone? Do we watch porn before going to bed or after waking up in the morning?

There are five key factors that you can use to analyze your porn habit.

  • [highlight type=”yellow”]LOCATION[/highlight]
    Where do you usually watch porn? In bed? At your desk?
  • [highlight type=”yellow”]TIME[/highlight]
    When do you usually watch porn? In the morning? At night?
  • [highlight type=”yellow”]EMOTIONAL STATE[/highlight]
    How are you feeling when you usually watch porn? Stressed? Bored? Alone?
  • [highlight type=”yellow”]OTHER PEOPLE[/highlight]
    This one I guess is when being alone for most people.
  • [highlight type=”yellow”]IMMEDIATELY PRECEEDING ACTION[/highlight]
    Is there an action that preceded watching porn? Eating? Finishing work you had to do?

As soon as we have identified our cues, we need to come up with a step-by-step strategy in advance with which we will replace our routine when a cue hits us. It’s important to come up with a more healthy routine that provides the same reward. So when you feel alone, you might want to call up someone or when you feel stressed out doing something that will relax you such as doing exercise. I noticed that exercise in general is a great replacement routine for watching porn. That’s why we’ll create strong exercising habits in February that will not only help us to not watch porn and masturbate but transform ourselves into a Sex God.

I have more good news for you. It takes approximately 30 days to replace a habit. After you learned to identify the cue, you will need some conscious thinking to switch from watching porn to habitualizing your new routine. The more often you do that, the more automatic it will get until you successfully replaced the habit and automatically start your routine whenever you experience your cue.

THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT

[frame_right title=”Lift for iOS” src=”http://sexgodproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/lift_iphone.jpg”][/frame_right]Like for almost anything today, there is an app that makes it easier to replace old habits with new ones. One of them is called Lift and it’s available for iOS only right now but they work on a web and an Android version.

The app allows you to track your successfully executed habits on a daily basis and visually displays how you are doing over a week and a month. Using apps like these help to put things into perspective and allow you to visually perceive your success. This is pretty simple and you just have to add one more habit to your evening routine. Before going to sleep, you just open the app and check-in to all the habits that you successfully executed on that particular day.

I will work with Lift for the Sex God Project and since it has a community functionality implemented, I invite you to join me and my habits that I will establish one after the other over the next couple of weeks and months.

  1. [highlight type=”yellow”]Download the app from the App Store[/highlight]
  2. [highlight type=”yellow”]Register an account[/highlight]
  3. [highlight type=”yellow”]Search for “no pmo” and join the habit[/highlight]
  4. [highlight type=”yellow”]Check in daily before going to to bed if you didn’t engage in PMO[/highlight]

You can back track your habits for seven weeks, so make sure to check in for every day that you already haven’t watched porn and masturbated in the last seven days.

In general, be honest and don’t check-in if you should relapse at one point. This can happen. But before you give and go on a PMO bing or give up entirely, just make sure to get back on track. 119 days are better than giving up after 50 days for example.

Within the app, we will also be able to see each others daily progress and give kudos to each other through giving “props” which should motivate everyone that joins. You can find my habit list on Lift here.

THE POWER OF HABIT

If you want to know more about The Power of Habit, I can recommend you the corresponding book by Charles Duhigg. It’s a great read with lot’s of scientific experiments and anecdotes reaching from how they marketed Febreze all the way to American football strategies. It’s available both as as a hardcover and a Kindle edition on Amazon.

Leave a comment below about how you experienced your first week and share with us what the cues and rewards are that you identified and the routines that you came up with to replace watching porn.

If you want to understand the mechanics of the mind and how we can get rid of mental cues in the shape of sexual phantasies that might attack us during the day and cue us into watching porn or masturbating, you should check out my blog post on How to Control Your Mind.