Your Brain is Designed to Survive
Your brain is all about survival. It releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine to reward you for activities that contribute to things that help you survive and make babies. This helps the human race to survive.
Things dopamine rewards you for:
These things are essential to the survival of the human race. That is why this process is part of your brain, passed down to you, for your benefit. And it works really well except for in cases of false pleasures.
False Pleasures are things humans have created that are unnaturally concentrated pleasure.
Examples of False Pleasures:
Our lower brain (animal brain) does not know the difference between natural pleasures and false pleasures. Instead of sex one time with one person, you can watch an hour of porn and get a huge dopamine release.
When you overload the brain with dopamine like this, it down-regulates. This decreases the amount of pleasure you receive from the same amount of porn next time. Over time, you need more and more porn to get the same level of reward (dopamine). I call this dopamine debt.
Rewards from natural pleasures are like spending dopamine with a debit card. You get the expected amount of reward for a given activity with no “catch” later on.
Rewards from false pleasures are like spending dopamine with a credit card that has immediate compounding interest. The spending limit is big, and using the money comes with a cost. The more you spend with the credit card the more costly it becomes.
False Pleasures Trick Your Brain
Your lower brain thinks, If that little bit of dopamine was important, than this huge amount of dopamine must be even more important! And it thinks your survival depends on getting more of it. Your lower brain literally thinks that you will die if you do not look at porn. So in the moment of having an urge/desire for porn, it becomes the most important thing in the world to your brain.
Porn is not important to your survival. You do not need it. The human race does not need porn to survive. Masturbation does not help the human race survive. Your body has a built-in mechanism to deal with “long” periods of time without sex: they’re called nocturnal emissions (wet dreams).
Empowering? Frightening? Both?
It is so empowering for men when they realize that they do not have to have sex every time they have an urge. To know that if you do not look at porn and masturbate, nothing bad will happen to you.
You may feel an uncomfortable urge for some time, sure. But to know that those urges pass without having to look at porn/have sex/masturbate is liberating. It is something that doesn’t even occur to many men. It might also be a bit frightening to you.
The part of you that wants to protect your continued access to porn/masturbation or sex-right-when-you-want-it will resist these ideas. That part of you will tell you that you have needs that need to be met. If they are not met by your wife then you must meet them somewhere else. It is just part of being a guy. Sooner or later something’s gotta give. Those ideas have been learned. And they are incredibly disempowering.
It is ironic that these ideas about sex actually make a man impotent in controlling their sexual behavior.
- One definition of impotence: inability to take effective action; helplessness.
One cannot count how many tv shows, movies, articles, magazines reinforce these false messages. Whether true or false, they point your brain in a direction of powerlessness, helplessness, weakness, victim-ness.
Interesting that overusing pornography/masturbation can also lead to the other kind of impotence and affect you negatively in the bedroom.
- Other definition of impotence: inability in a man to achieve an erection or orgasm.
When it comes to false pleasures, the upper brain must be kept in charge to successfully control, limit, or abstain.
Ways to Keep Upper Brain (prefrontal cortex) in Charge:
- Create a protocol for yourself and commit to it (how much porn? how often? what situations will you put yourself in? what will you say in social situations if it comes up?)
- Plan to use porn/masturbate at least 24 hrs in advance. Plan in detail.
- Decide beforehand how you will handle certain situations.
- After using porn/masturbating, ask yourself: Why did you do it? What did you gain from it? What did it cost? Did you get the desired outcome? Why or why not? Would you do anything differently next time? What do you want to do next time?
If you just wing it when it comes to false pleasures (like porn), you will be at risk of continually escalating, out of control behavior. Only you can know if you are really in control or not.
And guess what? Controlling this is possible.
When you have your false pleasures under control, you can more fully enjoy all of the amazing natural pleasures that this human life has to offer.
Need help managing the false pleasures in your life?
Check out my How to Stop Looking at Porn Program by scheduling a free mini-session with me. What are you waiting for? Click here.
For a free jumpstart on learning the skill of not looking at porn check out my guide: “How to Stop Looking at Porn.”