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The Best Willpower Hack: 4 Reasons It Keeps You Porn-Free

Last Updated: August 26, 2022

If you’re surrounded by dangerous triggers to look at porn, and your willpower to resist is a finite resource, what can you do? You need to find a way to renew your willpower. How can you build it back after it’s been depleted?

After 20 years of helping people quit porn, we’ve found the number one hack for renewing willpower is consistently the same: accountability relationships.

That’s right, relationships have the unique ability to renew willpower like nothing else. How does that work? How is it that relationships give us such a willpower boost?

(Click here for the Willpower series home).

1. Relationships connect you to renewable resources.

Comparing our willpower to water might be a helpful metaphor.

Our willpower is finite as long as we’re isolated. It’s like a small canteen of water that we’re carrying through the desert. Drink it slowly! Not only that, but isolation and loneliness are like a hot desert sun, evaporating the little willpower we have.

However, when we connect with other people, we’re no longer solely dependent on our little willpower canteen. Instead, relationships give us access to a renewable spring of willpower. Connecting with a friend or mentor who supports you is like finding an oasis. Your spirit gets a big refreshing boost, and your willpower-canteen is restored.

2. Relationships break the shame cycle.

But there’s another aspect to the restorative power of relationships. It relates to what we call “the shame cycle.”

The shame cycle goes like this. We all have wounds that make us vulnerable—physical or emotional abuse we experienced in the past, grief or loss, friends or loved ones who let us down. These wounds connect to triggers, which then lead us to act out by looking at pornography. Watching porn brings a feeling of shame, which drives us into deeper isolation and emotional vulnerability.

Shame is one of willpower’s deadliest enemies. But a relationship breaks the cycle off. Instead of moving from shame to isolation, the relationship confronts shame head-on. It pulls you out of the cycle and helps put you back on track.

See more about Understanding the Shame Cycle.

3. Relationships reaffirm your identity.

One of the incredible, willpower-boosting benefits of a relationship is identity reaffirmation. Relationships remind you who you are and what kind of person you want to be. This identity holds so much power over us that researchers have found a strong connection between our identity and our motivation.

This is closely related to the shame-cycle concept—it’s the positive corollary to the shame cycle. Shame tells you you’re worthless and unlovable. A relationship tells you the opposite—it reminds you that you are lovable and loved, it reminds you that you’re better than porn, and it reminds you that you have an important purpose and calling in your life.

4. Relationships allow you to celebrate your victories.

When an NFL team wins the Super Bowl, do they have a private parade? Nope, it’s the whole city. Even if you prefer smaller gatherings to a big bash, you need other people with you to make it a party.

For some, it seems strange to celebrate not looking at porn. But if you’ve battled against porn, you know what an incredible accomplishment this can be. The sense of accomplishment also renews your willpower, giving you even more motivation to press on.

Click here for the previous article in the Willpower series.

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