Without a doubt, one of the most iconic movies of all time is The Goonies.
In the movie, a group of friends (the "Goonies"), led by Mikey, is on a dangerous quest to find the long lost treasure of pirate One-Eyed Willy so they can save their homes from being foreclosed on. At one point in the movie the Goonies have already faced several dangers and close calls. They find themselves at the bottom of a wishing well underground, and they have a chance to get out and head back to safety, abandoning their search for the treasure. As the friends are preparing to go up the well, Mikey stops them with a realization. "Chester Copperpot, Chester Copperpot!" he yells. Chester Copperpot was an expert and professional who, years back, had tried to find One-Eyed Willy's treasure. The Goonies had found his dead body along their journey. That means that this group of friends had made it farther than the expert Copperpot did. Mikey realized this. "Don't you guys see, don't you realize? He was a pro, he never made it this far! Look how far we've come. We've got a chance." Mikey stopped to reflect on the amazing progress they had made on their journey. "Look how far we've come." This thought, along with a few more inspiring words, convinces the Goonies to not retreat to safety, but to continue on with their journey. And they ultimately find One-Eyed Willy's lost treasure and are able to save their homes. How often do you take a minute to stop and say, "Look how far I've come"? Life can be hard. It can be discouraging. It can even feel hopeless at times. We need encouragement. We need bursts of fuel to continue on. We need reminders that things are not hopeless, that we CAN achieve and experience the positive change we are seeking. This is why it's essential to celebrate the small wins. It's been said that progress equals happiness. It feels good when we are making progress towards a meaningful goal. It produces positive emotions of happiness, satisfaction, excitement, hope, optimism. These positive feelings are fuel for your journey. To not take a minute and celebrate your wins and your progress would be missing a massive opportunity, and doing yourself a huge disservice. This is exactly what the fourth step of the P.A.T.H. Plan accomplishes. In the last step of the P.A.T.H. Plan, the "H," you are high-fiving yourself and celebrating the win you just had. So at this point you've paused to notice the urge you are feeling, you've acknowledged and named the urge, you've set the timer for ten minutes and embraced and allowed that feeling to be there. The timer has gone off, you've allowed the urge to be there for ten minutes and now you're ready to celebrate the win. You've completed a "rep." This is huge! Think about what you've just done. You've used this urge to watch porn to learn a pivotal skill, to build an all-important muscle: the skill and muscle of learning how to effectively handle a difficult feeling in a healthy way. You've harnessed the craving to watch porn for your benefit and growth. You've literally taken a step towards the fresh air of freedom. And, don't miss this, you took what once you may have considered an enemy, the urge, and turned it into an ally. You've turned that urge into a stepping stone towards your freedom! If this isn't a win worth celebrating, I don't know what is. So that's why you absolutely do not want to skip this fourth step. Imagine the positive boost that you would be missing out on. It's free, it costs you nothing. Why not take this burst of fuel, of encouragement, of hope? You need to celebrate this win. You need to high-five yourself. And you need to do it in a way that you can go back and see over and over again. So here's how to high-five yourself: note your win somewhere. Create a marker of some kind that you can see. When I started using this technique to finally experience freedom from porn, I tracked my wins in my phone, and on a spreadsheet. I was able to look at my wins often and get that positive jolt and reminder to help me continue progressing. If you want to maximize the power of this strategy and of this fourth step, track your wins with something physical. Get a clear jar and each time you complete all four steps of the P.A.T.H. Plan, put a small rock or a bead in the jar. And put the jar in a place that you will be able to see on a regular basis. Each of those rocks or beads are a real, physical representation of the victory that you accomplished. When you can see your wins each day, think of it as refueling yourself. It's a boost of energy, of hope, of motivation. Remember, that positive feeling is premium, high octane fuel for your journey. Who wouldn't want that? You and I need those regular jolts of encouragement and hope in this journey to be free. You want to stir those feelings up daily, or even multiple times each day. So look at your wins often. Replay your most recent win in your mind. Experience that positive feeling again. And remember, you're not celebrating perfection, you're celebrating progress. When you are learning a new skill (meditation, tennis, a musical instrument), it's never a perfect linear progression. It's clunky. It's messy. Sometimes it's truly two steps forward, one step backwards. But here's the thing: all you have to do is not give up. If you keep going, keep practicing, keep adding reps, and persevere, it's actually inevitable that you WILL build this skill. And it will be yours to serve you for the rest of your life. So let's go! Don't wait another day! Don't spend any more precious time weighed down by guilt, shame, and fear. You have the plan. We've looked at all four steps in detail. You know exactly what to do the next time you experience the urge to watch porn. You know how to harness that urge and turn it into a stepping stone towards the fresh air of freedom. And you can always reply to my email with any questions that you have. Freedom is possible for you. Freedom is waiting for you. Take a step towards it today! Journeying with you, Dan