Becoming a Judo Master in the art of self-control is practically a superpower--it’s as close as we mere mortals can get. It will improve your relationships, your success at school and in your career, and your health. Plus, self-disciplined people are simply happier--happier with themselves, with the live they're living, and with other people and the world around them. I'll show you some of the research in a later post.
But self-control is not easy, and unfortunately most people approach it the way the Karate master approaches a fight. If they confront a temptation that threatens their self-discipline goals, they brace themselves and gear up for the fight. They try to block every blow that comes. They try to resist the energy of the temptation with all their mental might.
Mighty as their willpower may be and successful as this strategy may seem in the short run, you can't keep exerting your will forever. And they've pitted it against a bad habit which the survival-oriented part of the brain has misperceived as crucial to survival. So you have the battle of immense strength vs. immovable object. Not a recipe for success. Or contentment for that matter.
Self-control that works over the long run is more like Judo. You make little moves to maintain your balance amidst the force of the temptation that pounds at you. You make moves to absorb energy, step aside, and let it pass.
Self-Control Judo Lesson 1: Do Serious Damage to Your Craving State over the Next Seven Days
Your craving state is a recurring state of mind which often precedes sexual acting out. There's an advantage to the fact that it's recurring: any damage you do to the state of mind when you're in it will accrue over time and pay off when you find yourself craving again later. Like the matador who stabs one sword in the bull each time it passes, you can poke one hole in the craving state each time you're there. If you persist in poking holes, eventually the craving state will be so compromised that it won't be able to hold you captive.
See how this is like Judo? You're not merely hoping cravings don't come, straining against them when they do, and then breathing a sigh of relief if you happen to make it through this time without giving in. Instead you'll be planning for the next craving, responding intentionally during it, and reviewing how it went afterward.
The craving state is a driven state but you compromise its power to drive you by working your driving muscles in the midst of the craving. As you tap into your innate capacity for mastery, the tendency toward compulsion lessens.
So here's the action step to take each day for the next week. At least once during the day, at a point when you catch your mind moving in the direction of sexual compulsion, perhaps in even the slightest of ways, exercise these five muscles that help keep you in the driver's seat of your life: pause, choose, observe, describe, interact.
That may sound like a lot, but stay with me, it won't take long at all.
Don't act on the craving, but don't just brush it off and move on with your day, either. Instead, choose to pause and do a little work with yourself. Observe a thing or two about what's going on. You might note what was happening before you started craving, how your mind is trying to talk you into indulging, or what you feel in your body at that very moment. Then type a brief description of what you just observed into your phone and post it below as a comment to this post. (Alternatively, you could text it to a sponsor or post it on a forum like the nofap reddit.)
Bam, quick as that, you've just leveraged five key faculties of human self-determination: intention, forbearance, perceptiveness, language function, and interpersonal engagement. These contrast with the way we operate when we're functioning at the reptilian level that's characteristic of addiction: then we tend to be reflexive, impulsive, entranced, unthinking, and solitary.
Do this homework and you'll strengthen your sense of mastery amidst cravings. You might not notice a difference after one day, but I'm confident you will within seven.
Leave a comment below about the difference it makes and you'll help motivate others to try it for themselves.
I don't know when your bull will charge next, but it will. Get ready to stab away.