NoFap How To Stop Relapsing Forever
If you are doing NoFap and you want to stop relapsing you just found the one and only blog post you should be reading today.
In fact, I recommend you bookmark this page so you can come back to it and read it over and over again.
On this page you will discover tips that will be of immense value on your NoFap journey.
Steps that, if you actually implement, could potentially make you stop relapsing forever.
So, make sure to bookmark this page right now, and without further ado…
…here's how to stop relapsing on NoFap…
Delete any erotic material you may have stored
If you have files with downloaded pictures or videos on your computer, bookmarks that contain favorite porn sites, or just have any trace of your porn history (including your search and browsing history) make sure to delete all of it as soon as you've read this article.
There are two reasons for this.
- It acts as a psychological statement to your brain that you are now starting a new way of living.
- It eliminates potential triggers you would sooner or later run into while doing some otherwise innocent computer work.
Know that it's over now
You really want to make your brain understand that the old way of living is gone and there's no going back there.
It doesn't matter if you feel sad about it, feel depressed or even feel some kind of grief.
If that's the case then it's actually a good thing because then you can almost make a ceremony out of deleting your old erotic content, and thus it'll effect you more.
So go ahead and grief.
Maybe you'll even play some sad music while you're doing it and then perhaps you can go out and treat yourself to a nice dinner when it's over. Doing things like that is always beneficial as it will have a bigger impact on your brain whenever you stack things on top of each other.
Obviously you should also get rid of any old DVDs, VHS-tapes, porn magazines or any kind of erotica you may have hoarded over the years.
Write down your “why”
You should also have a rebooting journal where you write down things you discover about yourself and the rebooting process as you keep trudging forward on your journey.
I recommend you write things down using a real physical pen and paper instead of journaling on your computer.
Studies have actually shown that when you use the brain-hand connection, as you do when writing with a pen, it has a bigger impact on your brain.
Any notebook will do, but if you can make it stylish and meaningful, all the better.
The very first thing you should write down in your notebook is the exact reason for why you want to do NoFap in the first place.
To help with this, think about where you could be 3 years from now if you managed to quit your addiction.
How good could your life be?
Write it all down.
This is your “why” and as you'll see later on, it'll be very important.
Your “why not”
Do the same with your “why not”.
Your “why not” is obviously all the reasons for why you should NOT continue to fapp to porn.
Write down what your life could look like 3 years from now if your porn habit escalates and things take a sharp turn for the worse.
Really try to picture the worst case scenario in your mind's eye.
Make it vivid and scary…
…then, write it down!
This is your “why not”.
It's much easier to stop using if you educate yourself on what's going on in the brain during an addiction. Both on a biological and psychological level.
Unlike back when I started, today there are a lot of resources out there.
I definitely recommend you check out these, as they are all free…
- Your brain on porn (the first and biggest website on porn's potential negative effects on the brain)
- Project Stronger Self (my own YouTube channel where I share helpful tools and tricks on how to overcome porn addiction and how to stop relapsing on NoFap).
- My 90 Day No PMO Advice And Tool Guide (a free guide I've made, that will show you different stages of rebooting and what to be aware of during those stages).
Remember, the more you educate yourself, the better equipped you'll be in the battle against addiction. Understanding is half the power.
In fact, if you're new to the world of NoFap and feel that you are in a hurry to get started, you can start by watching this video right now…
What do you think about the the things I showed you in the video?
Pretty interesting, yet scary at the same time, wouldn't you say?
When you download my free 90 day guide, I will also teach you about the 4 fundamental brain changes that happen inside your brain if you developed an addiction to porn.
I will, of course, also show you how to reverse those changes.
Identify your triggers
Another thing you want to write down in your notebook are things that trigger you to use porn.
Write down all the triggers you can think of.
Just in case you don't know what a trigger is; a trigger is what starts the whole relapsing process. That's right, every single relapse is preceded by a trigger, whether you are aware of it or not.
Triggers can be…
- Visual triggers (like for example seeing a hot fitness model on Instagram)
- Emotional triggers (like for example feelings of loneliness, disappointment, anger or stress)
- A certain time of the day (like for example coming home from school or at night when your wife leaves the house to go to a night class)
A trigger is basically anything that reminds your brain of your porn sessions.
Triggers can produce very strong cravings or urges to act out. By writing down every single one you can think of you'll be better equipped to handle them in the heat of the moment. Because remember; by writing things down it has a bigger impact on your brain. Writing is like thinking on steroids!
Create barriers to relapse
This one is more important than you think.
One of the key drivers of both addictions and bad habits is ease of use.
By putting some form of barrier between you and the relapse you often save yourself from going down the rabbit hole of porn.
Barriers are obviously neither fail-safe or a permanent solution. But oftentimes they provide you with just enough time to get you out of that relapsing mode and get the logical part of your brain back in gear.
There are literally hundreds of ways you can make it harder for you to act on your impulses.
Be creative and smart about it.
Some examples of barriers could be…
- Only use your laptop at the kitchen table and never in your bedroom – while removing the kitchen curtains so that people that walk by can see you.
- Turn off the internet 2-4 hours before going to bed every night.
(I call this “operation blackout” and it is especially helpful in the beginning of a reboot)
- By a time-lock safe for your phone / sim card / router (this is a small container that works with a time-lock).
- Install a good adult site blocker.
I highly recommend Covenant Eyes, as that is the absolute best one out there – using the feature of an accountability partner as well – which is extremely powerful.
- Take your phone / internet cable and put it in your garage every night after 6pm
- Make your phone black and white (gray-scale) and then lock that mode by using a “lock me out” app.
(This is surprisingly effective as porn looks very boring without colors)
Remember, the more time you spend in front of your laptop or on your phone, the bigger the risks of a relapse. Especially at the end of the day when you're tired and your willpower is weaker.
In the beginning of your reboot, you really need to limit your internet use and have some barriers in place.
If reducing the amount of internet use sounds daunting, keep in mind that it's not for life. After about a month or two you're already going to be stronger and rebooting becomes easier. Then you can start experimenting with introducing more internet time again, if you feel like it.
Come up with replacement activities
(Acute and long term)
Related to the last point are replacement activities, as they are also a form of a barrier between you and your favorite porn site.
You need to have both long term replacement activities as well as short term (acute) replacement activities.
Long-term replacement activities…
Look, you can't just give up a big part of your life (fapping to porn) while still spending the same amount of time in front of your laptop or on your phone.
Well, some people can, but they are few and far between and from all the 1 on 1 coaching I have done I would estimate that at least 95% of people can not.
So, if you have spent 6 hours a week on porn, then you need to find something else to fill that 6 hour void with.
Preferably something meaningful, but anything away from the screen is good enough in the beginning.
Keep working on finding your purpose though, because again, you can't just rip your beloved porn away without filling the void with something else.
Short-term replacement activities…
Short term replacement activities are also important. Especially in the beginning of a reboot.
The difference between short-term and long-term replacement activities is that the short-term is “acute” i.e. something you resort to in the “heat of the moment”, when you feel that you are in danger of relapsing.
Some examples of good “acute” replacement activities are…
- Going for a walk
- Taking a cold shower
- Going to a cafe (without taking your phone with you)
- Visiting a friend
- Taking a walk in the nature
- Going for a drive
- Going to a movie
- Doing push-ups
- Doing the Wim How breathing method
Warning: a common mistake guys are doing is to make their replacement activity way too demanding. Like for example…
“whenever I have urges I will go for a 20k run followed by a 5 minute cold shower and then meditate for 30 minutes”…
Yeah, well, good luck with that. That's not going to work. The gap between the allure of the porn and the effort of your replacement plan is just way too big. Your replacement activity needs to be something that can be executed quickly and fairly effortlessly!
You need to decide in advance something that you'll do away from the scene of the crime (phone / laptop) when you feel that you are in danger of a reboot.
Your replacement activity needs to be decided on in advance and ready to execute.
So, decide on one activity as your primary replacement activity!
This is very important and can not be overstated, because in the heat of the moment you are not that rational and if you try to decide which one to use while you are ridden by urges, you have already lost the game.
The importance of surfing the urges
Urge surfing is the most important thing you can learn during your reboot.
I really mean that because surfing is what's eventually going to take you out of the addiction for good.
Why is it so important?
Well, because at the end of the day, what has to happen if you want to overcome an addiction, is that you need to master the art of noticing a carving without giving in to it.
And that is precisely what surfing means.
Come up with a personal urge surfing phrase…
Before I teach you exactly how to surf, you should come up with a personal “urge surfing phrase”.
This should a be a short and powerful phrase that is a summary of your “why” and your “why not” that we talked about in step #3.
A few things to note about your urge surfing phrase…
- It should be 1-4 sentences long – a short summary of your “why” and your “why not”.
- Don't make the phrase too long – you'll have to memorize it!!!
- The urge surfing phrase is to be repeated over and over to yourself – whenever you are surfing your urges.
(If you're alone, you should even say your phrase out loud).
- Make it personal and powerful – it should resonate with you and your reasons for why you want to quit.
(You can, obviously, change and modify the phrase over time as there is no doubt that you will discover more about yourself and your rebooting as trudge forward on your journey).
Example of an urge surfing phrase…
Here's an example of what my personal urge surfing phrase looked like at one point during my own rebooting…
“Ahaa, urges! Not one peek. Who do I want to be? A mentally broken man with ED and social anxiety or a strong, grounded, healthy man?”
The first word “ahaa” is there because I felt it snapped my brain back into awareness, instead of falling into “autopilot mode”.
You know, like a cry of “Aha! I notice you!”.
The “not one peek” was there because I wanted to remind myself that most of my relapses happen after I stepped into the all familiar trap of…
…”I shall just check this one thing for a few seconds”
Behaviors like that would inevitably lead to a relapse.
After that I made it about my identity, which is a very powerful thing to do, so I asked myself what kind of man I want to be; a mentally broken man with social anxiety and erectile dysfunction (because fapping to porn gave me very weak boners) or a strong, grounded, healthy man?
Now, this was just an example of what an urge surfing phrase can look like.
Again, you should come up with something that really resonates with YOU and YOUR reasons for wanting to quit.
Be flexible and creative.
You phrase does not have to follow the structure of the phrase I was using.
HOW to surf the urges
Now it's time for you to learn more about exactly what urge surfing is and how to master the art of doing it.
When you are hit by a craving or an urge you immediately start to surf.
This is how you do it…
- Notice the urges (instantly when they arise) WITHOUT feeding them and without following them.
- Allow yourself to feel them – do NOT resist them and do NOT feed them.
- Sit with them and be ok with feeling them, all while calmly saying your personal surfing phrase to yourself.
- Just notice your urges – what physical sensations do they give you?
- Surf on top of those sensations like you ride on top of a wave when surfing in the sea. Let that wave of cravings wash over you until it's gone. Don't fight it. As the saying that goes, “fight the ocean and you'll drown”
- Calmly do the above, all while knowing that it is in this very moment they key to your freedom lies.
The key is to be okay with feeling your urges.
There's nothing wrong with you for feeling them.
You should not resist them, not follow them and not feed them.
This is an important step where most go wrong.
You see, there is this psychological phenomenon called “the ironic rebound effect”, which basically means that whenever you resist or push away a thought or a strong emotion, it will always return after a while.
But not only that, it will actually return with more power than before you pushed away. That is why we have to master the art of just noticing the urge, without trying to push it away!
In other words, when you get hit by a powerful craving you should never go…
…”oh no! no no no! go away – go away!!!”
Because then you are resisting.
On the other hand, you shouldn't try to dive down in the urge and draw lust from it either, because then you are feeding it.
Just sit there, calmly notice the urge, all while repeating your urge surfing phrase to yourself, over and over.
And, finally, you should obviously not follow your urges either because, well, if you act on them you'll just go ahead and relapse right then and there.
Just notice the urge, all while knowing that it is in that exact moment the key to your freedom lies. Because not reacting to those urges = no longer being a slave to the addiction.
The urge surfing phrase is a tool and an alternative response…
It's not like the urge surfing phrase is a magic tool in and of itself. Although it is very powerful, what's even more important is that using it will become an alternative response instead of relapsing.
Take a look at the relapse cycle below…
This is what your relapsing routine looks like…
- First you are presented with a trigger (remember, triggers can be visual, emotional, situational etc.)
- After which you start feeling a craving (your brain is predicting how good it would feel to act out – this is a super memory – the sensitized pathways firing up).
- You then act on the trigger and do the routine (this is obviously you relapsing to porn).
- Then follows the reward (in a PMO addiction this is the orgasm).
- And lastly, regret and guilt sets in (all too familiar, huh?).
By mastering the art of urge surfing, you break the relapsing cycle between the craving and the acting out.
As a new reward you then get to feel proud and strong when it's over instead of regret and shame, like you used to.
Instead of running the relapse cycle (top of the picture) you now have a new behavior – an anti relapse cycle (bottom part of the picture).
The beauty of the urge surfing phrase: The “fire drill”
The real beauty of using an urge surfing phrase is that you can now start practicing your “anti relapses cycle” (the bottom of the picture) even when you're not having urges.
Kind of like those fire drills you use to have at your workplace where you practice how to respond if there ever is a real fire.
Pretend that you are about to relapse…
Pretend that you are in a typical scenario where you often relapse and then actually practice the anti relapse cycle while repeating your urge surfing phrase, over and over.
During this moment, while you're surfing, you can also vividly picture your “why” and your “why not” in your mind's eye to make it even more effective.
The more often you practice this “fire drill”, the easier it will be to actually do it when the urges come for real.
The urge surfing phrase builds a strong prefrontal cortex (PFC)
Every single time you successfully do the urge surfing and manage to avoid a relapse (as seen in the picture below with the blue arrows) you build the strength of the prefrontal cortex in your brain.
The PFC is the part of your brain that is responsible for self control, and yes, it can literally be built up like a muscle in the gym.
Hence, you should look at your urge surfing phrase as a tool for your PFC, just like a dumbbell is to your biceps. And each time you are practicing your “fire drill”, you are doing one more rep for your PFC.
Obviously you are strengthening your PFC in the heat of the moment, when urges hit for real as well, and you do your surfing routine. It's not just during your fire drills that your PFC becomes stronger.
More about the fire drills…
It's up to you how much and how far you want to take the fire drills.
The more realistic you can make them feel, the more effective they are.
After a few days, when you start feeling stronger and more secure in your surfing, you can even start experimenting with deliberately exposing yourself to a real trigger, for a few seconds.
Like for example: typing in the name of your favorite adult star into google. Then, instead of opening any of the web pages google suggests, you calmly just notice the urge to do so, while you do your surfing, after which you close google and go on with your day.
That's one heck of a successful practice rep logged in for your PFC right there.
If you decide to deliberately expose yourself to triggers like this, don't go so far that you actually look at the pictures, because remember, the erotic content is not a trigger, but is the actual drug itself.
The suggested blue text that comes up in google search, and that leads to a porn site if you click on it, is a trigger and that one can be used to look at or expose yourself to.
You have to know the difference between the actual drug and the trigger. For a PMO addict the erotic content is the very drug.
Also, if you play around with the fire drill like this, do be careful as it can easily lead to a relapse if you're not on top of your game.
Only do it if you feel particularly strong that day and then go into it with a firm determination that you will practice your “anti relapse cycle” for just a few seconds, before moving on and leaving it be.
If you practice your fire drill when tired or emotionally upset, then only do it by pretending to get hit by a trigger. Do not expose yourself to a real trigger that day, as the risk of a relapse is just too big if you're emotionally upset.
In fact, you don't even have to practice the fire drill with real triggers at any time if you don't want to. The fire drills are still effective, even if you're just pretending that you're in a potential relapse situation.
Be creative when practicing your fire drill…
Be creative with the fire drill and the triggers, because as you remember, you most likely have many different triggers and it would be to your advantage to “pretend practice” all variations that can arise in a real life scenario.
The more often you practice, and the more variations you come up with, the easier and more automatic your anti relapse cycle will run when it happens for real, later on.
When to use the replacement activity
Now some of you may be wondering…
“If urge surfing is what's going to take me out of the addiction for good, then where does the replacement activity enter the picture? Should I surf or should I resort to a replacement activity?”
Good question – here's the deal…
You should do both!
You need to start practicing how to surf the urges from the very first day of rebooting, but since you're still a novice, you need to have replacement activity in place to resort to, when you feel that you are about to lose the battle against those stubborn urges.
Look at your surfing skills like a muscle (remember your prefrontal cortex). Your surfing muscle is weak in the beginning, but each day you use it, it grows stronger and stronger.
The idea then becomes…
- Surf the urges for a short while (example: 20-30 seconds of surfing the first 1-3 days)
- If the urges don't go away after those seconds -STOP- and resort to your replacement activity.
- After a few days, you can increase your surfing time (example: 40-60 seconds of surfing before resorting to replacement activity)
- As you become a more skillful surfer, keep building up the surfing time. Perhaps you can already do 2-3 minutes of surfing when you reach day 10 (just an example – you have to experiment with yourself here).
- Eventually, you will be so good at surfing that you will no longer need a replacement activity (this is where I'm personally at today. I no longer need a replacement activity if I get hit with urges).
Did that make sense?
I hope so.
It's a bit messy to explain in text form, without making it too long of a read and making a full book of it.
If you feel confused you should know that this is the exact thing I help my clients with during a 1 on 1 coaching session. A session typically lasts about 90 minutes where I make absolutely sure that my client knows exactly what to do.
So, if you feel you need my help to explain this further, and you want me to structure and tailor a specific plan for you, then feel free to reach out to me through my contact page right here…
…I'll get you up and running.
Work on putting your life in order
There is a reason for why I made this the last step, but that doesn't mean it's to be neglected.
It's because this is something that you don't fix in just a couple of weeks. It's something that takes time.
I don't know if you have developed addiction related brain changes from all the years of fapping to porn or not, but most guys who find it difficult to stop relapsing have at least some form of addiction related brain changes. I.e. they fill the criteria of being classified as an addict. (If you're unsure, you can take the porn addiction test right here).
If you are addicted, you need to be aware of the fact that it is almost impossible to overcome an addiction if you keep being a “party animal” and otherwise have bad lifestyle habits.
A messy lifestyle = bad success rate…
If you spend most of your days playing video games, watching Netflix and surfing on social media, while eating a crappy diet and doing little to no physical exercise, it's going to be very difficult for you to overcome your addiction.
If you on top of that also like to get hammered and smoke weed on weekends or even worse, almost daily, then overcoming a porn addiction will be almost an impossible task.
During my 10 years in the porn addiction community, I have seen almost no one successfully quit who keeps living like that.
I'm not telling you this to scare you, but rather to encourage you to make some good lifestyle changes.
Look, it's not like you can't ever party again or indulge in junk food or any hedonic pleasures, but in general you need to be taking good care of yourself. You definitely have to have more “good days” than “bad days”.
And just in case you're not entirely sure what I mean by taking good care of yourself then, here you go…
- Make sure your sleep is okay.
- Do some physical exercise a few times a week.
- You can't be eating junk food every single day of the week.
- Eliminate or drastically reduce alcohol or any other recreational drug use.
- Have a purpose outside of NoFap. I.e. you need to have meaningful goals that you keep working on.
All of those are going to help you both on a biological level as well as on a psychological level.
Let's not get into the biology behind it here, other than to just say that with a healthy brain and a healthy dopamine system everything becomes easier.
But let me just say a few words about the psychological part…
Your identity and the psychology of taking good care of yourself…
John Dryden said: “First we make our habits, then our habits make us”.
That is 100% correct.
You see, whenever you do healthy things you are forming your identity in line with that of a person who takes good care of himself.
Then, after that identity is formed, it will be much easier to do healthy things automatically.
This is because…
The strongest force in the human personality is the need to stay consistent with how we define ourselves!
Meaning, if you view yourself as a person who takes good care of himself (identity) you would rather go to the gym and work on your goals than spend the whole day playing video games.
Now, sure it would still take a bit of effort to go lift, but you'd feel an intrinsic motivation to do so. So much so that it becomes a pull and an almost automatic behavior….
…your identity becomes your core driver!
In other words, if you view yourself as a person who takes good care of himself, you will always have an intrinsic motivation to do things that are good for you, which also includes staying away from porn relapses.
The opposite is also true…
If you have an identity of that of a person who does NOT take that good care of himself, it will be much easier for you to relapse.
Even though you know porn is not good for you, you would still relapse from time to time because, hey, that's just in line with what a person who does not take that good care of himself would do.
And remember, you form your identity by first creating habits…
…either good or bad ones.
You become your habits…
Like James Clear puts it in his book Atomic Habits: “every action you take is a vote for the person you wish to become”.
If you take a short walk, well that's not going to change your body much, but it is still a vote for being a person who takes good care of himself.
If you skip working on your project one day and you just lie on the couch eating candy, well that's probably not going to destroy your future, but it is still one more vote for being a lazy person.
Once you have enough votes pointing towards a certain kind of identity, you start to embody it and -after that- you”ll have an intrinsic drive to act it out.
So decide who you want to become and then start proving it to yourself with repeated small wins, by stacking up those votes.
Votes that make you view yourself as a healthy, grounded man.
A man who takes such good care of himself the last thing he'd want would be to mess up his dopamine system, erectile health and self esteem by watching porn.
Let's hope this post on how to stop NoFap relapses forever will actually help you do that.
You can do this. I believe in you!