Try R.E.L.A.X. – A technique to control urges!

Caravan7

Member
Dear all,

I came up with this technique to control urges (whether internal or triggered by sight of an attractive woman).
It's working well for me. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
(Thanks and disclaimers are at the bottom)

When you have an internal urge (to watch porn) or external trigger (attractive woman who sparks a lustful fantasy), take a deep breath and think:

R. E. L. A. X.

which breaks down to

Recognize
Evaluate
Let go
Acknowledge
Xplore (Explore)

That is:
Recognize that arousal is part of nature (DNA, the human species) and nature is stronger than you, you can't fight it. Granted, with porn addiction the intensity of our arousal is excessive and obsessive, but this step is only meant to cut yourself some slack. Activation and arousal as such are built in our nature as sexual animals. Don't beat yourself up. Having recognized this, then

Evaluate whether that particular individual that triggered you (or that internal urge to engage in PMO) is all that important for your life. Chances are, it isn't. Think about it: it's completely random that you saw that particular cute lady at that particular time! Had you left home 5 minutes later, you would not have seen her, or you would have seen someone else. Although you are seeing real people, they only function as trigger images for you. This quick evaluation should make you realize that the trigger (or internal urge) may be felt as strong but it's basically random, happenstance, irrelevant, and insignificant. Having done this evaluation, then

Let go of her (or of the urge). Do you need to keep looking or keep fantasizing? Do you need to reinforce the urge inside? Not really, right? Take another deep breath and think (or even mouth silently) "let go"... and let it wash away. Now you should feel a bit more relaxed. Then

Acknowledge that you have a large problem than a man who has never been addicted. Again, no judgement or beating yourself up, but you are on a journey of recovery, it will take a LONG time! You cannot demand to be free from urges and triggers right away! After all, if you were free of them, you would have solved your problem and would not need any technique at all, right? So tell yourself "I'm working on it", give yourself some empathy, and take another deep breath. Triggers and urges are unavoidable: you are rebooting. Trust the process and relax. Finally:

[E]Xplore other thoughts, ideas, and feelings. I mean, do this right away, on the spot: direct your mind to thoughts about non-sexual things that are meaningful to you, such as a work project, a new creative idea (or a hobby), or even very lofty matters such as art, philosophy, social justice. Or think about a gathering of friends that is coming up or that you would like to organize. The key here is to get lost in thought about something deeply human, social, significant, meaningful, and/or beautiful (but NOT physical beauty ;) ). You can actually think about one of these things in details, do some planning. Perhaps you can engage in that productive activity right away or as soon as you're back home. You are basically distracting yourself, and it should be easier to do so because you went thought the 4 steps before already. Take another deep breath and relax... you are out of the urge now.

If needed, repeat the cycle!

It took me a bit to write it, but once you think about it and interiorize it, you can go through the R. E. L. A. X. cycle pretty quickly.

I hope it helps, good luck! Let me know if it works, if you have changes to suggest, etc...
I look forward to hearing from you :)

................
Thanks
I took inspiration for some parts of this process from users of this Forum.
I would like to thank the following members for their insights and suggestions:
  • JnanaYogiKarmaYogi
  • Fappy
  • Artemus
  • Jeks
  • zaraki888

Disclaimers
  • I am not a psychologist or mental health professional, just a regular guy (now porn free) who is trying to reduce the impact of triggers.
  • I have no business attached to this technique. It just came to mind the other day. I have joined this forum only recently and would like to help.
  • It's entirely possible that the technique does not work for you. While I have read sources in various disciplines, this is not a scientific or tested process. It's only an idea that I hope might benefit the community.
  • I am open to feedback.
 

Fappy

Respected Member
sounds great! its really effective to be able to take a step back and objectively view whats going on in your mind - like wathcing yourself from the outside.
for me, the recognize and acknowlege steps are the most important.
anyway, excellent advice there!
 

Caravan7

Member
Thank you. Yes, I've been using. Now, doesn't mean it isn't hard. I struggle nonetheless, but I'm hoping it gets easier with time. The hardest part ifs Let go, but of course if one could let go easily, one would be healed so to speak. But thinking "Let go" does help. The final point is when I can actually fully forget about the magnetic attractive view I just saw: I get into the rabbit hole of pursing an interesting thought (like a creative project) and after a while I am fully engrossed in that one.

There is a caveat, though, I noticed: one must not obsess about the technique itself either! In fact, the paradox is that trying too hard is actually going to keep the sexy image that triggered you in the first place! You are keeping it (her) in mind to see if you can actually let go, ah ah. So I think the best is like meditation, when you're invited to gently refocus on your breathing when you get distracted. Likewise, when seeing a cue, gently go through the RELAX technique just as it's named: to RELAX, not to obsess. Then move on.

Let's see how it goes, will post reports in the future if I improve.
I'm already no porn, but I check people out a lot in public (not too obviously, I hope). That's the fight now.

Cheers.
C7
 

Caravan7

Member
Update on RELAX and behavior change:
A minimal change is sufficient to begin: I notice that not looking at any woman on the streets was too difficult. So I made this pact with myself:
1) Happily enjoy the sight of a pretty girl
BUT
2) Once seen, do not look back. After registering the sight, I look ahead at my steps and count them, until the person has vanished both from sight and from my mind. I also use R.E.L.A.X., which helps.

This is a minuscule change but already empowering because I feel successful, and it motivates me to go further. After mastering this step, I'll give my self a further challenge (like I can only look at two people while walking to the grocery store) and so on.

I don't care if it sounds silly. The addiction is the obsession with the visual cues, so any change in my behavior in response to those cues is a small progress.

The final goal is to not even feel the need to look at all. I hope to get there in a year or so.

Cheers
 

Fappy

Respected Member
This is a minuscule change but already empowering because I feel successful, and it motivates me to go further.
theres no such thing as a miniscule change buddy! if it works for you, use it! there will always be visual cues, and its impossible to ignore them all. coming up with ways and strategies to accept the visual cues and deal with them is the key
 

Caravan7

Member
Agreed. It's been a couple weeks and I must say the technique helps a lot, but it depends on other factors too. If am too tired or frustrated, I risk to cave (to MO and fantasy I mean, no porn in any case, that is over, for good I hope). It also depends where I am: a night out with friends (bars and such) is difficult if I am not motivated enough: 100 cues by the hour, especially in the hot season! So I go through cycles of more hopefulness and more discouragement.

Staying strong for the long haul is the biggest challenge. At this very second I am pervaded by the strongest urge of the last few days: I will distract myself with music instead, but damn it, the impulse is so strong.

RELAX! .....
 

Caravan7

Member
An update.

I experienced an amazing sense of release one day when I was pervaded by an enormous urge to MO, went for a walk, came back still with the urge, then thinking about Acknowledge (the A of R.E.L.A.X.) I started typing frenetically in my personal journal about the feelings underlying my urges and recognized ANGER as the primary one (rather than a sexual feeling per se). I started writing about that and realize I was angry with my father and grandfather (again, nothing related to sex), vented in writing until I broke down in tears and .... wonderful ..... the urge vanished completely! I don't want to overstate the case or exaggerate, but it's just the plain truth: the release of venting and crying dissipated the masturbatory need completely, I did not need to resist anything or get distracted: it was just gone.

If I needed proof that this addictions is the mask for something else, there I have it.
That episode gives me hope.

We still need to heal the brain from the addictive cycle, yes, but I think journaling can be extremely powerful: it's like self therapy.

Cheers, and peace.
 

Caravan7

Member
Focus on E of "Evaluate" today: yes, I have the urge, but I Evaluate its significance: is it meaningful for me, or for anybody really?

The intensity of something is not necessarily related to its value. Heroin must give very intense sensations, or for a more pedestrian example, cheese cake does too. But it's not good for you.

I have had some good success ignoring a MO urge by engaging in something meaningful, such as music making, or journaling about my past.

The journey continues ....
 

Caravan7

Member
I wrote in another post that excitement is useless. I felt good when I came up with this technique.

All right, but now it's the long distance runner.
It's not going to work right away: I have months ahead of me, maybe years, maybe the rest of my life.

So, every morning, I tell myself: today I'll see women at the store, on my commute, on television. It's guaranteed that many of them will activate my interest and fantasies, because of years of porn conditioning.

Commitment: For every attractive sight, I'll use the technique to diffuse. Period. Then repeat.

Until it becomes an automatic habit.

There's no other way.
 

Caravan7

Member
Was tough recently: A friend of my girlfriend is on screen talking to us and I find her (the friend) super hot. "Damn it" I think. On a deeper level, I got to wonder why I need to lust after other women given that I have a beloved partner near me, and I am working on that.

But in the moment, I must get hold of that overwhelming feeling of attraction. To moralize about it does, and did, nothing.

But I'm happy to report that RELAX helped with self control. I had to run the cycle constantly for a good half hour to keep my internal "activation" at bay. I also diverted the gaze to another person in the video call, or simply focused on the view outside the window.

But what a struggle! This brain conditioning is really a big beast. One can get discouraged. I always get discouraged when the urge hits me: I'm dismayed that the problem is still there. But then I refocus, apply the technique, and keep moving forward.

It's a looooong haul guys. Day in an day out. We gotta be like the olympic athletes, it's like training: Consistency, commitment, determination, humility, patience, resilience.
 

Caravan7

Member
Damn relapse! shit

My fault is that I want this to be over too quickly. Not possible. Gotta be strong to run the long marathon.

How do you refocus after relapse? I have methods to diffuse urges, but when I was both tense and depressed, I couldn't make it. I needed the MO sooo badly. Stronger than me, than my will.

I'm grateful for this community, knowing I'm not alone...
 
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