Typically, the times we feel most uncomfortable are the times we most eagerly seek out some form of stimulation/release. Due to pornography, sexual stimulation/release is available 24/7, and so many people have made a habit of medicating their emotions/pain with pornography. A porn habit can have pretty devastating psychological and relational consequences, so this is not a good solution–as you may be able to deduce from your own life, or from the testimonies of other people. In this article, I’ll address some of the ways we can achieve the stress-relieving, emotionally-cathartic effects of pornography and other bad habits/addictions, without any of the negative side effects.
As human beings, we need regular stimulation, and there is nothing wrong with that. Our species evolved in nature, where stimulation is abundant. The stimulation of present in nature helped to offset much of the stress of living that people used to experience. In modern society, people spend their days indoors, typically cooped up in a seated position, while under the constant visual strain of technology and electronic devices. A lack of strong in-person relationships between friends and family is another culprit. When we are around the right people, we feel pleasantly stimulated. When we are around the wrong people–or no people at all–we emotionally disengage and accumulate stress/tension. There is a reason why conversation is often described as “stimulating.” The same is true, in general, of hanging out with the right people.
When we are under stress, we may reason that need sexual stimulation, and sexual release, to help decompress. A healthy sexual release can, indeed, have this effect. The issue is when no viable sexual outlet is present. Young people in school or college; businessmen or soldiers away from their spouses; and people of faith, like myself, for whom sleeping around is not an option, all face this challenge. Engaging with the wrong sexual outlet can increase stress and create a host of other problems, so that is also a non-starter.
Transmuting Sexual Energy
One thing I have found–and many people I have talked to attest–is that a number of non-sexual activities can blow off some of the steam of sexual desire. Lifting weights, cardio, stretching, massage therapy, etc., are all workable alternatives to release tension carried in the body. In my case, exercise and stretching have been a huge aid to me in managing my libido. My regiment of physical activity, especially stretching, stimulates my senses. Afterwards, I feel good, and my sexual urges often diminish substantially.
Some experts recommend “habit replacement” more generally as a strategy to beat temptation (here). For example, instead of battling our urges, “we may choose to work out or wood-work or otherwise occupy our minds with something else” –be it a physical or non-physical activity. Everyone is different, and so we have to figure out what new desirable habits/activities can function as replacements for our old, undesirable ones. In The Powerful Benefits Of Semen Retention, I quote Napoleon’s Hill famous line in Think And Grow Rich about sexual transmutation–or the concept of channeling sexual energy into non-sexual pursuits.
Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires. When driven by this desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, will-power, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times. So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that men freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it. When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, this motivating force maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling, including, of course, the accumulation of riches.Napoleon Hill
Sexual transmutation flips the narrative that not having a sexual outlet is a disadvantage. Many athletes, entertainers, and clergymen throughout history (Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, Muhammad Ali) have sworn by the benefits of semen retention, either for a period of time, or as a permanent lifestyle.
The takeaway from this article is that there are many ways to achieve stimulation/release that are not sexual in nature. In fact, taking a break from sexual activity may be advisable for spiritual and secular reasons, for some people, at certain junctures of their life.
For more, see 7 Toxic Beliefs That Keep People From Quitting Pornography. For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.