Breaking the mental masturbation habit

In my last article, we introduced the concept of mental masturbation. You now know that is just another way of procrastinating. This article will talk about ADHD and mental masturbation and how to break this habit. 

Mental masturbation and ADHD

Since my content primarily focuses on people with ADHD, you may be wondering where the connection is. People with ADHD can be easily distracted but there are times when we hyperfocus on something otherwise known as hyper fixation. When a topic captures our attention, we may get hyper-fixated on it and want to learn everything we can. This can look like mental masturbation.

Of course, you do not have to have ADHD to engage in mental masturbation. The solutions offered in this article are universal and will help everyone who wishes to break this habit.

A word on breaking habits in general.

When it comes to any habit, I believe there are two factors that can make or break the habit creation/breaking process. The first is that you have to have to be the person that has decided to either stop or start the habit. No one can choose for you, and if they have, there is a high chance the decision will not stick. The second is that you have to have a reason why it’s vital to make or break the habit.

Assuming that you are reading this article by your own free will, lets look at some reasons why you could consider stopping the habit.

Why should you break the mental masturbation habit?

Let’s elaborate on some of these reasons:

Mental masturbation is just another form of resistance/procrastination. 

According to Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art, resistance is the universal force that acts against human creativity. I know i should start that diet. You know you should write that book, or make that call or do that thing you are avoiding. Resistance is the reason you are avoiding taking that action. His prescription? Just start! At the end of the day, the only way that action will get done is by acting. 

Mental masturbation wastes time

As Lori Gottlieb put in her book ‘Maybe you should talk to someone, and in this article, when talking about her patient Julie, life has a 100% mortality rate. Time is life’s equalizer said another author whose name I can’t remember??. When referring to time, there is no difference between you and Bill Gates. You both get 24 hours in your day. Spending your day looking at the same things from different lenses is a waste of time if you are not taking any action. 

Mental masturbation does not help you improve.

We talked about experiential learning in the previous article and how experiencing things is a great way to learn anything. 

Lets imagine three people. They all want to learn how to draw. 

Person A spends 1 hour every day watching other artists drawing on YouTube. 

Person B watches 30 minutes of artist drawing and spends an additional 30 minutes drawing every day. 

Person C spends 1 hour drawing every day without watching any guides.

At the end of a month of these three people doing the same thing every day, you can expect that Person B and Person C will have made significant improvements in their drawing skills. I’d like to hazard a guess that person B may not be too far off from Person’s C progress simply because they are pairing their practice with a bit of learning. This example would have been fine with Person A and Person C, but I do not want to demonize learning. Learning is important, but so is practicing what you learn. 

There may be many more reasons to break the mental masturbation habit but these three are a great place to start.

How do I break the mental masturbation habit?

Hopefully, by now, you understand that you may have this habit and have a reason why you should break it. So how do you go about it?

There may be different ways of approaching this goal, but the underlying fact is that you have to start taking action. You have to develop a bias for action. Here are a few simple ways you can do this. 

Set a limit for conducting research

You can set two types of limits. You can set a content limit, i.e., how many articles, videos, or books you can read before you start taking action. Or, you can set a time limit. For example, you can say that you are only allowed to spend X minutes researching before you start. This is a great way to inject awareness into your research process and prevent you from getting into an information rabbit hole. 

Set up systems that encourage action

I first learned about systems vs. goals from James Clear. He talks more about it in this article. He talks about how winners and losers have the same goals. The difference is that winners implemented habits that made the goal possible. Let’s go back to the three people that wanted to learn drawing. They have similar goals. But Person B and Person C have systems in place that help bring them closer to fulfilling their goals. Person A only seems like he is moving closer, but like a person in a rocking chair, he is going nowhere. 

How Implementation Intentions can help you

There is a goal-setting method known as WOOP. It stands for Wish, Outcome Obstacle, and Plan. The planning part of this method uses an intervention method called implementation Intention or if…then. The idea is that if you want to make or break a habit, then you set the parameters for doing the habit beforehand, 

If, for example, you want to start exercising more, you can decide the time or the place when you will exercise. Your implementation intention can be; if it is 5 pm, then I will put on my gym clothes and go to the gym. In the case of stopping mental masturbation, you can have an intention like ‘if I want to learn/browsing about something in Chrome, then I will set a 20-minute timer beforehand’. Like with every plan, it only works when you do. But having decided ahead of time can be very helpful. 

To sum it all up

In the two articles on mental masturbation, we have gone over what it is, why people with ADHD may tend to do it, and how anyone who wants to break the habit can go about it. It all boils down to taking action. What is that habit you have been procrastinating on in the guise of research? What is one action step you can take today to move you forward? Tell me in the comment section below. 

Thank you for reading, 

Wishing you love and light, 


P/S. I am open to any suggestions on any future topics you may want me to talk about. Leave them in the comment section below. 

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