One of the most iconic movies of the 80s (being a child of the 80s myself) was, without a doubt, Karate Kid.
For those of you that didn't have the privilege of growing up on this movie and watching it thousands of times, Daniel, the main character, moves from New Jersey to California with his mom. Shortly after his arrival, he starts getting bullied by Johnny and his gang. Luckily, the elderly maintenance man in Daniel's apartment complex, Mr. Miyagi, comes to Daniel's rescue and begins to mentor him and teach him karate. But Daniel gets a bit perturbed when his training begins with Mr. Miyagi making him wash all of his vintage automobiles. He instructs Daniel to wash them very specifically: "Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand," in a circular motion. Wax on, wax off. Daniel does this all day long, not wanting to question his sensei. The next "training session" involves Daniel painting Mr. Miyagi's backyard fence, which is extensive, and takes Daniel all day. Again the instruction is very specific: bend your legs. Paint the fence in an up-down motion, bending the wrist. Up. Down. Up. Down. Thousands of times. This continues the next day with Daniel sanding Mr. Miyagi's backyard wood flooring, and painting his house the following day. Each time with specific instructions on how to do it. Finally, Daniel gets fed up with all this. He thinks Mr. Miyagi is just turning him into his work slave. Things come to a head, Daniel is about to quit and Mr. Miyagi stops him. "Show me wax on, wax off," Mr. Miyagi calmly says. He then attempts to punch Daniel, and Daniel uses the same wax-on-wax-off motion to block Mr. Miyagi's punch. He uses up-down-up-down to block Mr. Miyagi's kick. You get the idea. In dramatic fashion, Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel that all the work that he was doing, the cars, the fence, the floors, the house, were actually creating muscle memory for very specific defensive karate moves. A very powerful and emotionally moving scene :-) This whole time Daniel was doing work on one thing, (washing a car, painting a fence, etc.) he was also building a skill that was transferable to another area. The work Daniel was doing was serving him in more ways than one. Why am I telling you all this? Other than simply looking for an excuse to talk about a classic '80s movie, this principle applies for our purposes. The P.A.T.H. Plan is your step-by-step guide for how to handle and effectively process the urge to watch porn whenever it hits you. As you do this more and more, you are building a skill: You are learning the skill of effectively noticing and processing a feeling. When I first implemented this strategy, I began to notice something: This skill is also helpful with other feelings that I experience. Let me give you a specific example. The other morning, I noticed that I was feeling anxious. I've experienced this many times, so I took a few deep breaths and thought, "I'm going to try and breathe and relax to make it go away." But then I remembered from experience that trying to make anxious feelings go away tends to do the opposite. If I focus my efforts on NOT feeling anxious, on making the feeling go away, it actually fuels the feeling. Then, if it doesn't go away, I feel even more anxious. I started to go down this futile cycle, but I caught myself. And, I did what I've learned is far more helpful. I paused, I turned towards the feeling and acknowledged it. I named it ("Hm, I'm noticing that I am having anxious feelings..."). I also had an attitude of compassion. Sometimes I'll have the thought, "Ugh! Seriously, again?! I should be past this by now!" But instead I thought, "Yeah, it makes sense that I am feeling this right now." I labeled and named it without judgment or condemnation. Just making an observation. And I had compassion on myself. Notice anything familiar about this approach? These are the first two steps of the P.A.T.H. Plan: Pause and Acknowledge. The more you practice and implement the P.A.T.H. Plan, the more these steps will become natural and easy to put into action. And you'll find yourself starting to use this skill with other feelings you experience. Why is this a game-changer for you? We act, or don't act, based on our feelings. Imagine having the ability, the practice, the skill, to be able to handle any feeling, any emotion, in an effective and healthy way. Fear, anger, sadness, impatience, jealousy, anxiety. What possibilities would open up for you if those feelings were no longer a hindrance to you and the vision of the man you desire to become? If you haven't yet, start implementing the P.A.T.H. Plan today. Practice it in advance. Yes, it will absolutely help you finally experience true, lasting freedom from porn (it was my missing piece after a 20+ year struggle). And, it will help you build a life-changing skill that will help you in more ways than you can imagine. Let's go! Dan