WORK WITH ZACH

Episode 169: How our mind keeps us stuck

Nov 28, 2022

 Episode 169: How our mind keeps us stuck

 

Darcy: If Zach and I were to say that we believe in your ability to reach your goals around pornography and that humans often underestimate their ability to succeed, would that statement insult you, or would it cause you to feel hopeful? 

 

I am sure you are all very familiar with the placebo effect. Scientists gather a group of individuals who all struggle with say, depression and create 3 groups of people. One group gets the prescription medication, one group gets nothing, and the last group gets a sugar pill that they believe is the real deal. 

 

A miraculous thing occurs! People in the sugar pill group reported a reduction in their depression even though they received a placebo pill. 

 

This happens for all sorts of things, from pain management to weight loss. 

 

We know that the sugar pill had no ability to create change, yet change occurred! This helps us to see that the change comes from within the person. They had the power within them to create the change they wanted. 

 

Another example of this is the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When people believe in our ability to succeed, we often perform better. We see examples of this all the time. If your boss thinks you are a genius you will often perform better. Studies have been done on children in classrooms whose teacher praises them just for their effort, and the children’s schoolwork, attendance, and test scores improve.  A growing body of research suggests that the expectations a teacher sets for an individual student can significantly affect the student's performance.

 

What the placebo effect and the self-fulfilling prophecy teach us is that you can succeed and that the power is already within you!! You likely don’t yet believe in yourself, and you lack the hope you need in your ability to create the result that you want.

 

That is where coaching comes in handy. Having a coach who believes in your ability to succeed and helps you access that power from within you when you don’t yet see it or even believe it is there in the first place. 

 

We as humans are crazily capable of achieving, yet we often fall short of living up to our capacity. 

 

Almost all of my clients are crazy successful in many areas of their life, yet when it comes to their struggle with pornography they find themselves unable to create the desired outcome on their own or even through countless other programs, books and therapists.  These clients often doubt themselves and fail to take action. 

 

Here’s the deal. 

 

When trying new things, our minds often fight, protest, and reject new ideas. Our minds tend to put us in a cage and keep us stuck. I am sure you have experienced that feeling of being stuck and unable to move forwards when it comes to your struggle with pornography. 

 

Zach: here’s what the cage is like.  Fleas are powerful jumpers that can leap 13 inches.  If you put them in an eight-inch mason jar, they will just jump out.  But if you put a lid on it, they will jump into the lid a few times, but, because it’s painful and doesn’t seem to get them anywhere, they will learn to jump just high enough not to hit their heads.  You can then take the lid off the jar and the fleas will stay trapped.  

 

This is what we are experiencing in terms of our cage.  We are trapped, often by our perception of limitation more than actual limitation. 

 

Darcy: Our goal in the episode is to help you break out of the cage and create the change you want! 

 

Before we can get out of the cage we have to understand what the cage is all about. 

 

Zach: Here are some examples of what the “bars” of the cage looked like for my clients and me.

 

  • I want to stop looking at porn, but I feel out of control
  • I want to feel worthy, but often I feel worthless
  • I want to be the person I pretend I am, but behind the scenes, I fail.
  • I want to fix my marriage, but I feel like it is beyond my control
  • Once an addict, always an addict
  • I will never be able to change this
  • I want my wife to trust me, yet my behavior makes me untrustworthy sometimes.

 

No wonder the men and women who come to us feel stuck.

 

The way to get unstuck and be able to walk through the bars of the “cage” is to understand how the cage got there in the first place!

 

Our mental cages come from two different things. The first is society, and the second is the activity of our mind.

 

As members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most of us grew up with an abundance of societal messages regarding pornography this goes for both the husbands and the wives. 

 

Zach: For some of my clients, when their mom found out they were looking at porn it was suggested to them that perhaps they would become rapists or even pedophiles. 

Others received the message that they were sexually deviant, broken, and redeemable. 

 

They sat through lessons at church that were less than positive and created a feeling of hopelessness around their ability to change this behavior. 

 

They hear messages like, porn will destroy them.  Stay as far away from porn as you can because once you start you will become an addict. (talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy right there)

 

Porn will destroy your marriage. I would say that message was loud and clear to both the young men and women. 

 

Darcy: To the young women, we taught messages like run the other way if you are dating a boy who struggles with porn.  As well as, if you don’t meet your spouse's “needs,” they will look at porn or worse. This frameworkis both blaming them for choosing a partner that might struggle with pornography and blaming them for that partner’s choices.  

 

Porn is the worst thing ever, which turned into, “if I am looking at porn, then I must be the worst thing ever.”  

 

Psychologists call this a stigmatizing environment because the messages we receive from adults are that we are somehow broken and defective. 

 

Zach: This is in no way us trying to blame the church for all of the porn problems in the world, but this is us trying to shine a light on the society we were brought up in and how some strong beliefs around pornography and people who struggle with porn can turn out. 

 

In recent years the church has made huge strides in the right direction in addressing pornography. 

 

Society can only keep us stuck in the cage with the help of our minds. 

 

Darcy: So let's discuss the second part of the cage in our mind.

 

Our mind is a problem-solving machine. It is constantly operating to find problems and solve them. That is how humans have evolved to the point we have today! Our minds are not our best friends when it comes to helping us feel good. What our minds are good at is detecting threats and keeping us alive!

 

Three principles can help us understand our problem-solving machine.

 

  1. Without our minds, we would be unable to survive and detect threats.
  2. Our minds can not be turned off. Even if we could turn off our minds it would be hazardous. For example, if we turned off our minds and we went to cross the street we would not be aware if a car was coming to hit us. Our mind wouldn't be able to alert us to the threat and cause us to react so we didn’t get hit by the car. 
  3. Our minds are negative. If we think about our mind as our survival mechanism we don’t want our mind to alert us too late or too infrequently because then we will not be alerted about the real danger in front of us, and we might get killed. Our minds have helped us survive, but what if that same great mind is now getting in the way of our success when it comes to leaving pornography behind forever?

 

Zach: Our mind is fantastic at solving problems in the outside world. That is why we are all still alive today. However, our minds like to take their problem-solving abilities to our inner world, where the problem-solving machine is no longer very effective.

 

If you start to become aware of your inner world, which consists of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges, and memories you might see how your mind starts to judge things as good or bad. It tries to solve all your inner problems. 

 

An example of this might look like, I am feeling lonely right now, and your mind says, “I can help you solve that; go look at some porn!”

 

Darcy: An example of this for the wife might look like; I am feeling scared about what my husband might be doing while I’m away at dinner with my friends, “hey, you should just call and text him to make sure he is ok and behaving.” that will temporally help us feel like we are solving the problem, but in the long run that is no way to live and will keep you stuck in a vicious cycle.

 

Now that we know this about our minds consider this.

 

Have you ever had a loving or not-so-loving relative give you advice that was the most absurd piece of advice you have ever received, yet the person giving you the advice was dead set on that they had the right answer to offer you?

 

Imagine your mind is that relative. Your mind is that relative who is constantly following you around offering you absurd advice. Just like that relative who gives you advice that you pass over, you too can learn to do this with your mind. 

 

Imagine you are coming home from your mission, and all your relatives are standing at the airport with signs welcoming you home from your mission. They say things like Welcome home Elder Jones, Return with honor, Sister Smith. Job well done! 

 

Imagine that same scenario in the airport, but now the signs your relatives are holding up are. You are a failure. You’re unworthy.  What is wrong with you? You’re an addict. Your marriage is doomed.  You’ll never make it to the Celestial kingdom.  Just give up already. That is what your brain is often doing. It is holding up big mean nasty signs, and the closer you get to your relatives, the more the signs block out your ability to see anything else around you. 

 

We often allow the signs our minds hold up to hook us, bring us down, and guide us back into the cage.

 

In our coaching program, we teach you the skills you need to no longer allow those signs to get in the way and keep you trapped in the cage. Our goal in our program is to help you escape the cage by standing up and walking through the bars that keep you stuck. 

 

We believe in you! You can do this!! If you don’t yet believe you can walk out of the cage, then set up a consult with us. You can do so at zachspafford.com/workwithme We would love to help you see what is possible for you and your spouse.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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