Many of us want to eliminate porn from our lives. We can try to use strategies and willpower to do so. But in order to successfully rid ourselves of it, we need to address underlying causes and also improve our conditions in the real world. This is needed not just for getting rid of pornography, but also for getting rid of drugs from one’s life generally.
Drugs tend to encourage more and more use because of what they do the mind. But other things make us want to use drugs more. When we forcibly rid our lives of drugs but fail to improve our real world environment and other underlying issues, we find ourselves addressing symptoms rather than causes of drug abuse. Then without addressing the underlying causes, when we eliminate a drug from our lives we immediately seek others.
For most young adults, one drug is pornography: the limitless access to sexual novelty that it affords. If we forcibly eliminate it from our lives, without finding new sources of psychological gratification and addressing sources of psychological pain turning us to pornography to wash away that pain, we then turn heavily to digital media: constant music listening, constant TV and movie watching, constant YouTube watching, constant use of dating apps, constant texting and emailing, constant clickbait articles.
Doing so taxes our minds and fragments our attention span. It makes it harder to do what’s important. While there’s short term pleasure with digital abuse it’s not satisfying. We are hurting our mental abilities. We are only deriving pleasure from the temporary escape from reality.
So what’s the solution?
We must try to improve our real world environment. We should address root causes of psychic pain like early adverse experiences through therapy (if needed).
If you withdraw from pornography without improving your real world environment and addressing other underlying issues you’ll see the importance of this. We can only get so far on sheer willpower.
Rethink where you are, what you’re spending your time doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with. While the willpower is important, we also need to reshape our environment and get more pleasure in the real world (and possibly address underlying psychological issues). Then we’ll be less vulnerable to porn or whatever else we go to after we take out porn.
It’s worth getting rid of porn (in an effective way). For me, getting rid of porn has improved my mental state. I’m much happier, with much greater attention and mental energy. I don’t know of any other change I made in my life at the time I got rid of porn that would otherwise explain the benefit I experienced.
What explains this benefit? The reason may be this. Pornography streamlines access to novel sexual stimulation, artificially allowing us to masturbate and ejaculate more often. We release sexual energy abnormally frequently, which we wouldn’t without the access to such novelty. But now without porn, and less masturbation and ejaculation and visual overstimulation, I have much greater 1. energy and 2. receptivity to stimulation, allowing me to be much more enthused with life, and in turn better resist other digital opiates.
To eliminate it, I improved my environment. I moved in with my parents over a summer in between college years. I spent more time pursuing my interests. I spent more time in nature. I spent more time reflecting with myself, developing an inner self that could provide company to prevent feelings of loneliness leading to porn. I avoided doing other things that made me less happy and made me more vulnerable to porn, like using social media.
I realized that social media was fueling attachment to porn. This is because of the sexually stimulating content and the algorithms that can curate it very well for us (particularly on instagram). So I explored ways to reduce my use of social media in a low effort way. I eliminated notifications. I let them pile up to 99 and then reset to 0. While I miss certain things, I control my use much better now and the benefit is worth the cost. This is the most important thing you can do to detach from social media.
The truth behind eliminating pornography addiction is that willpower only does so much. It helps to improve your environment and, as you can see, address some of the other issues underlying use of pornography.