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Can Stoicism Help With NoFap by Quelling Arousal and Other Emotions?

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Philosophy is quite a contentious topic nowadays. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone has an opinion on that opinion. We take inspiration from philosophers long since passed who seemed to know their stuff, and while some ideas have died out, many still remain and are claimed by those looking for structure when defining their lives. Nihilism, Cynicism, Existentialism; the list goes on and on, and you’ll find no shortage of men and women looking to debate back and forth about them.

Stoicism Helps With NoFap

One that crops up now and again is Stoicism. Stoicism is found within Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens way back in 3 BC. Unlike most philosophies, Stoicism is considered a way of life rather than just a viewpoint on the world; it’s purely focused on discipline. It’s a philosophy whose primary feature is to help men and women overcome destructive emotions and know when to act.

Touching up on the brief mention of emotions, there are some Stoics who claim that you can quell some of those completely when the time is right, with a big one of interest being arousal. Will that help you with your nofap journey? Let’s find out.

 

What Makes Up Stoicism?

What Makes Up Stoicism

Stoicism focuses on the basic fact that life is unpredictable and we’re all going to die one day and we have to accept that. Epictetus put it best in his work Discourses:

“I have to die. If it is now, well, then I will die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived—and dying I will tend to later.”

However, this is not some “live every day like it’s your last” school of thought. No, that would be reckless. Stoicism focuses on making every day count, bringing several core functions of the brain to the forefront. Epictetus also touched up on these.

“The proper work of the mind is the exercise of choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. What then can pollute and clog the mind’s proper functioning? Nothing but its own corrupt decisions.”

So what of these stoicism functions? What can we learn from them and their connection to emotion? Well I’ll give you a rundown.

  • Choice. Even the smallest of choices build up to make you who you are today, so choose wisely.
  • Refusal of temptation. Don’t be tempted by things that keep you from your goals, and this includes giving into emotion-filled reckless behavior like binge drinking or lashing out.
  • Yearning. It’s a desire to become a better person. As long as you’re better than you were the day before, you’re good to go.
  • Repulsion. Being disgusted by blatant lies and abhorrent behavior. This includes ignoring such things and not giving them attention (unless it’s something you can actually take action on).
  • Preparation. Life is unpredictable, so you need to prepare yourself, especially mentally. You need to prepare yourself financially in case of a market crash, but also prepare yourself for a tragedy you may not see coming, which is most of them.
  • Purpose. Finding purpose within oneself, owning it, and internalizing it. You choose your purpose, whether its as a mom/dad, an entertainer, a leader, etc.
  • Assent. Acceptance that some things are just out of your control. Life sucks sometimes and there’s nothing you can do about it. Most of all, it’s about learning to move on instead of lingering.

These, while seemingly basic on their own, are all ways of evaluating how you feel and live your life. You’ll find that a lot of your life is controlled by emotion, and that they might interfere with certain aspects like refusing temptation or being certain of your purpose in life.

 

Controlling Emotions

Controlling Emotions

Stoics have a firm belief that “I can’t control the way I feel” isn’t exactly true. Emotions are a matter of cognition, and Stoics believe they have found a good model to use to arrive at good decisions despite a situation that might get one emotional. It goes: impression, then assent, then impulse.

What does that mean, though?

Well, to have an impression is when the mind registers something before one can actually make an opinion on it. Assent (while I did relate it to just acceptance earlier) is essentially a judgment; an acceptance or a refusal of what is present. An impulse is the action brought on by the assent, which came from the impression.

As an example: I have an impression that I am hungry due to obvious signs like my stomach growling, and so I should get some food. I make my assent that I should indeed get some food. My impulse is to get up and grab a sandwich.

So, what does this have to do with emotion? Well it means that we have a way to control our emotions regulated by dopamine. While, yes, impressions come to us, Epictetus was the one who posited that the assent is up to us, which then affects the impulse. By giving our judgment a second thought, we can change our actions.

For example: I have an impression tbT I am hungry due to obvious signs like my stomach growling, and so I should get some food. I make my assent that now is not the time, because I’m too busy writing an article, and so I change my impulse and decide to wait to get my food later.

It’s believed that by doing this step-by-step with everyday choices, we can mitigate responses controlled by emotion, and thus putting a tighter hold on said emotions.

 

Arousal

Arousal Stoicism and Nofap

So, what about arousal? Can you really control it? Stoics say that you can; you can turn it off and on like a light switch.

Arousal is essentially an emotion that emits strong physiological reactions. We get turned on by hearing or seeing sexual situations, but it can also happen just by thinking about it. Ergo, we can conjure this state purely in an act of will.

I can already hear doubters saying “But we can’t help it!” Can’t you? Have you never gotten aroused in your workplace or among friends? How do you deal with that? You snap out of it by exposing yourself to different stimuli; distractions or physically disengaging. Have you ever felt like you were about to lash out at someone? Well you may have resolved your anger through going for a walk. Sadness? We always have ways to cheer ourselves up, whether they be through memes or friends or anything else.

What I’m saying is this: we do not have to give into emotional impulses and stew in them. We can control them with some effort, and that includes arousal. Taking time to consider your impressions and being more comfortable with your judgment can help you with these things. And that way of thinking will definitely help you start your nafap journey with the right mindset.

You don’t have to give into destructive emotions. You don’t even have to give into inconvenient emotions. It may take some practice, but you might find it working out for you.