Remember Your Why to quit with 4 impenetrable questions

Struggling to remember your why to quit when the going gets tough?

So did I. But my Notepad document grew too long, with too many old, suddenly-stupid motivators.

I had all sorts of logical reasons. But to remember your why, you need visceral, emotional ones. Logical ones won’t work when your brain’s emotional centers take over.

I’d heard some version of the below for years, but it never clicked until I used it myself to overcome (and eventually be disgusted by) porn addiction.

These questions are all-purpose, though. Social media, YouTube, news, sugar, caffeine, smoking… I can’t make promises, but from addiction to habit change or just self-improvement, these are impenetrable motivators for your darkest moments.

Remember Your Why Pinterest Pin

Before you remember your why

Your Why is the base of your pyramid. If you lose it, no technique will work for long, if at all. That’s the how and the why of addiction recovery.

You might stop caring when a craving strikes, think “why not?”, do the thing, and then immediately regret it. (I used to.)

So it’s not just your reasons, it’s how well you remember them.

I suggest printing out this free poster and writing your answers by hand. Hand-writing helps you remember your why better. (And there are exclusive tips not found in this article in it.)

Ready? Let’s introspect!

Remember your why with these questions

1. What are you sick and tired of? Or, what are the costs?

Are relationships with your family or friends strained because you’re irritable, depressed, or distant with them after you do the thing? Maybe you’re tired of feeling guilty or ashamed, or hating your body. How about the emptiness of life losing meaning for a few days while you pick up the pieces?

Or maybe you hate wasting time you could spend instead on hobbies you used to enjoy but which you dropped to pursue your vice. (Try personification.) Time with your family and friends, or just to relax.

Maybe you don’t like compartmentalizing and being a hypocrite, lying about your use.

2. Do you notice any destructive thinking patterns before cravings hit?

For example, “I need this to relax / sleep,” “I deserve this (after all the hard work I did),” “I’m not good enough / unlovable, but this will always be there for me,” “I need to de-stress,” “everyone does it,” or even just “why not?”

(That last one is insidious! Hence to remember your why, you need to stick that poster beside your door or near your computer.)

Common triggers for addiction include loneliness, isolation (so no one will know), stress, anxiety, a need for an ego boost / validation, simple desire for dopamine, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, looking at and questioning, and just habit.

And lastly, the Big Monster, fear of going without, of being deprived of your crutch. That’s the #1 recovery killer.

See also:
The EasyPeasy Way to Quit Porn: Review and my experience

3. What are the benefits of quitting?

These are mostly the opposites of the things from question one. For instance, more time for your relationships or hobbies, being free from guilt, shame, or depression, or your meaning in life is back.

Being more present in your relationships, clearheadedness, or feeling stronger or proud. Or it can improve your self-control in other areas of your life; how could that benefit you?

4. What does quitting make possible? Or, what could you do if this was no longer a struggle for you?

Pride at abstaining can give you more energy or fill you with more drive, confidence, and love, all of which can influence the world to give them back to you. Luck is mostly confidence giving you a second wind; could you use more luck?

Quitting may also increase performance, whether in physical, creative, or knowledge pursuits. (It helps me write better.)

General tips

No matter your addiction, it likely won’t be a straight shot to success. Sometimes you won’t remember your why when you need it. So no shame if you slip on occasion, and never use “should” or “deserve.”

Success is squiggly, not linear
  • Remember your why with emotional reasons, not logical ones. Does having more time matter because you want to use it on a hobby, or just to have free time? (You’ll fill it one way or another.)
  • Never run away from something. Always move toward something. The #1 predictor of addiction is using it to escape a negative emotion.
  • Bookmark the activity list for ideas on things to do when you need to relieve stress. Or try the Offtions activity list.

“What you crave is not the habit itself, but the change in state it delivers.”

– James Clear, Atomic Habits

And again, it’s easier if you write by hand, using the worksheet and remember your why poster I provide.

Remember your why to fight dragons with ease

Identity is at the core of your why

James Clear writes in Atomic Habits that “there are three layers of behavior change: a change in your outcomes, a change in your processes, or a change in your identity.” Like a target, outcomes are the outer ring, processes are the middle, and identity is the bulls’-eye.

Identity-based habit change is the most crucial and effective way to prevent cravings in the first place.

But that’s a massive topic. It is, in fact, the third and most expansive, science-backed, and powerful in my upcoming ebook Hero Trilogy: the Avatar.

Quests, Monstercrafting, and the Avatar: because you are the hero of your own life. Keep a lookout for them!

In the meantime, remember your why as often as you can and get stronger every day!

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