Picture this: You’ve been addicted for decades. You use porn as your main outlet for intimacy and a pacifying mother in times of stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, anger, and general dissatisfaction with life. Always accompanied by a tendency towards isolation. Your emotional stability has become dependent upon porn, influencing your hobbies, habits, and attitudes. Now imagine someone took that away from you, your precious dependency, you would be left a thousand feet in the air with nothing under your feet. This is what happens when we begin the process of recovery. Recovery is not just the absence of porn, it’s also the beginning of a new and healthier life, a New You. A whole new set of activities in your life, like rediscovering old hobbies, or going out with friends more. Exercise and eating right. Finding time to laugh more and spending more time off the computer.
No body wants unpleasant emotions, but we all must deal with them or they build up in us, effecting our life. It’s OK, everyone at some point gets angry or lonely or sad, It’s a part of human nature. But if we don’t find healthier outlets to foster and cultivate in replacement for our dependency on porn, we may easily relapse. The good news is that these changes become very natural once we are on the road to recovery. We rediscover where those lost energies have been for our hobbies, passions, and exercise these last decades. We become more outgoing and have a greater joy for life. Incorporating any of these healthy outlets at any point in your life can be of great benefit, but to make a sound recovery I encourage these new outlets be cultivated and fostered, especially after decades of isolation and dependency.
Once we have begun the process of transforming our triggers in a healthy manner, creating new and healthier outlets for our loneliness, stress, and anxiety are key to our overall recovery. The importance of things like hobbies, exercise, meditation, and intimacy cannot be ignored. We need them in-order to create a stable recovery and build a happy and healthy New You.
Hobbies are excellent ways of dealing with stress, and when done with others a great way to enhance our connection and intimacy. They serve as an outlets for us creatively and energetically. People starting the process of recovery report suddenly picking up old hobbies they used to enjoy but have not touched in decades, or picking up a new hobby they never thought of enjoying before.
Some hobbies you might enjoy: Drawing and painting, playing an instrument, ice skating, model building, decorating, writing, creating a blog, gardening, cooking, photography, knitting, puzzles, reading novels, building, learning a new language, or become more active in existing hobbies.
Exercise is scientifically proven to transform depression, stress, and improve your health: Exercise is also a great way to get outside more often. Find an activity partner and enjoy encouraging each other on.
Some exercises you might enjoy: Jogging, swimming, rollerblading, hula hooping, yoga, strength training, walking, canoeing, kayaking, cycling or biking, Tai Chi, hiking, cross country skiing, rock climbing, golf, dance, or cardio class.
*Always consult your doctor before engaging in any strenuous and new activities.
I believe meditation is one of the most important practices to incorporate into the ‘New You.’ It not only helps you become more mindful or triggers, aiding you in the recovery process, but also reduces stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, increasing your overall sense of wellbeing. The number of scientific papers published on meditation has been rising steadily since the 1990s and is now well accepting by mainstream western medicine for it’s abilities to increase dopamine, lower cortisol levels, and increase our pre-frontal cortex activity. All good things for recovering porn addicts.
Although not in everyone’s cards at this point in recovery, a healthy sexual practice with a committed significant other can be a great way to deal with stress and an extremely healthy outlet for intimacy. Solo sex may also be an option for those in recovery. These options are dependent upon your current situation and goals in recovery and may not be for everyone. I will discus this topic in further articles.
If you find you have a compulsive habit of over-objectifying or sexual-izing others and you would like to stop, you can utilize the Respect Meditation I’ve created.
A major reason we seek out porn is to fill in for a lack of intimacy with others or feelings of loneliness, which can cause a cycle of isolation and dependency. All people need some communication with others for a healthy and well balanced emotional life, so when we quit porn we need to seek alternative outlets for this vital feeling of connection with others. Intimacy can range from just sitting around others in a coffee shop, to a best friends that we do everything with. It’s a tricky thing to quantify, but never-the-less important for human happiness.
Owning a pet has been known to increase the happiness and well being of owners for centuries. Pets can be intimate sources of love and affection that can bring joy and fun into anyone life. And some studies even show an increased lifespan due to lower cases of heart disease in cat owners, or lower blood pressure and cholesterol in dog owners.
A connection with people or pets is not the only way to cultivate intimacy, spending time in nature can be an amazing and subtly healing experience. New research shows that spending time with nature has extensive mental health benefits.
And of course spending time with friend and family is a great way to reduce stress, create intimacy, and enjoy life. Some activities with others: Join a club, playing base ball, cooking together, take a dance class, calling up a good friend, host a dinner, go to a park, zoo, or coffee shop, say hello to your neighbor, volunteer, drive the elderly around the city, attend a meet up group, explore new parts of the city, make a new friend, picnic, writing a love letter, receiving a love letter, go to a party, movie, ice cream, or board games with friends, spend less time on the computer, reunite with old friends, hug more and shake hands less, chat with the cashier.
I gave dancing it’s own category because of its amazing and underrated benefits on the body, mind, and soul. Some studies pointing to lowered risk of dementia and improving mental capabilities. And besides the flexibility, strength and stamina you gain from dancing, when done with others is can be a great outlet to connect with others.
Some dancing classes or events that may be in your area: Salsa, ballroom, tango, folk, square, swing, contra, freestyle, hip-hop, interpretive, contemporary, flow, contact, jam, or 5 rhythms.
“Laughter is the best medicine” they say. When laughter is shared, it connects people together and increases happiness and intimacy. It relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, releases endorphins, and protects you against heart disease. You can go out to a comedy club, put on your favorite feel good comedy, or find a ‘Laughter Yoga’ class in your area.
Putting your time and energy into a goal to work towards can be a great source of rewarding accomplishment and a sometimes needed distraction. Maybe you have a goal that you’ve been putting off, maybe for years. Never really finding the right time, motivation, or confidence to take it on. Always wanted to work on custom cars, become a physical trainer, or do something with that great idea you have? And with your passion, excitement, and enthusiasm for life slowly come back, now is your time to re-examine these life goals. What do you have to lose? We all need some kind of goal to work towards in life, why not making it something that really engages you.
Sometimes we need to heal with a healthy amount of time alone without distraction, an opportunity to not worry about anything and learn to reconnect with ourselves. Go to a secluded beach, enjoy a long walk, enjoy deep breaths, watch the sunset or sunrise, prayer or quiet contemplation, take a long drive no where, or go camping.
Addictions and Warnings
Bottom line is, get OFF the computer. If we are an internet porn abuser, chances are the computer is where we spend a majority of our time. And internet and video game addiction are closely related because of this fact. It’s important not to become sucked into these new or preexisting addictions once we have begun to wean ourselves off porn. And although any habit or hobby can become addictive in an unhealthy manner, these are two to look out for and actively avoid when in the process of recovery.
Also be aware of your limits and triggers, don’t enter into any new activity if you think it will be too triggering or uncomfortable for you. Don’t push yourself, we became dependent upon porn slowly over a long time, and it will take time to replace habits and incorporate new ones.
Sometimes we are afraid to step into something new, and when we get there, even if we are happier, something pulls us back to a place that is more familiar. This is a monkey on most addicts backs, this monkey is called “I’m am bad” or “I’m not good enough” or “No body likes me.” It cuts us where we stand, immobilizing us from making any real progress in our life. It’s important to be mindful of these thoughts, feelings, and pulls back to our familiar dependencies. We should treat them like we would our triggers, with mindfulness, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, and understanding.
How to make a new habit?
There are many proven ways to create new habits in your life, James Clear at his blog has a great description one method developed by behavioral psychology researchers. I advise reading his article to aid you in successfully incorporating healthier habits, hobbies, and outlets into your life.
I hope this article gives you a better understanding of your addiction and the importance of finding new healthier outlets in your life to replace the dependency we had upon porn. Enjoy your new life!