EPISODE 14: 4 Ways to Keep From Choosing Porn Around Christmas and Other Holidays

Dec 22, 2019

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You are listening to the Self-Mastery Podcast, where we break through barriers holding you back from becoming who you wanna be, whether you're struggling with pornography, overeating, social media addiction, or just wanna get better at succeeding at life. This podcast is for you. Now, your host, Zach Spafford.

Hello everybody and welcome to another beautiful Mastery Monday on the Self Mastery Podcast. This is your host, Zach Spafford. Hey. It's Christmas time. In fact, today as you are listening to this episode, it is the day before Christmas Eve. So Christmas is in two days. So I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to talk about four ways to keep your cool and be happy at Christmas.

Christmas is a time of excitement and expectations. There are trees that you gotta put up and there are lights that you get a hang outside for. You do like to hang out Lights. We, this year, because we just moved into a new house, I did not put up the Christmas lights outside, but my father-in-law, thank heavens, was able to give me a couple of blow up decorations so I have a snowman.

In a sleigh with Santa being pulled by a single reindeer, I'm sure , that he got it. Home Depot. And then I also have another Santa. So there are two blow up Santas on my lawn. And then of course we've put up the Christmas tree, but we also expect to do presents and we expect to do food. and there's lots going on, but this is also a time of difficulty for a lot of people who struggle with depression and addiction and loneliness.

For those of you who struggle with pornography, for those of you who struggle with overeating, this is a time of year when there's a lot of difficulty for a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons. And today I wanna talk about four things that you can do, four simple things that you can put into your repertoire over the next couple of days to.

Make it so that you have the happiest Christmas you've ever had. So let's go ahead and get started. So number one is don't expect others to be different than they are normally. So today as I'm recording this is actually my son's, my oldest son's birthday. He did not get outta bed. When I called him for his 5:00 AM swim practice.

He threw a tantrum. When I tried to get him to complete his chores, he was demanding of my phone, right? He was like, Hey, let me check my Snapchat. My, my kids don't have phones. My, my oldest is 15. We still have not given our kids smartphones or really any sort of phone because we feel like that's not necessarily something they need.

To have a hundred percent access to all the time. But he was demanding my phone. He's like, I want to check my hangouts. I wanna check my Snapchat. I wanna check all these things. He was exactly the same as he always is. He was Alexander, he was my boy. He was the baby boy that was birthed 15 years ago.

He was just him. And even though it's his birthday, I realized something today more acutely than I usually think about it is. He's still just gonna be him, and he's still learning this process of growth and he's still just being the person that he is. And that's not gonna change just because today's his birthday.

And the same thing goes with Christmas. People are not going to change just because it's Christmas, so don't expect. So that's number one. So don't expect others to be different than they normally are. Number two is very similar to that one, which is don't expect yourself to be different than you normally are.

So I woke up this morning with a pile of things to get done, and I did not start doing them for various reasons until one o'clock by Christmas morning. I will get as much done as I can, but I'm not gonna be an appreciably different person that I am every other day of the week just because it's Christmas, even though I'm not yet the person that I want to be.

That doesn't mean I stop going forward, but it does mean that I don't beat myself up for not being that person yet. And that's a key component of just being happy in general. When we realize that we are doing our best and that we are being the best person that we can be, we stop beating ourselves up over the things that we aren't yet doing the way that we want to do them.

That doesn't mean we stop moving in that direction. That doesn't mean we, don't want to become a better person. What it means is we set aside the shame and the guilt, and we just focus our energy on doing the things that we think will make us the better person that we want to be. For a lot of years when I would have an episode, when I would end up using pornography, it was around those occasions.

It was around those momentous occasions. It was around vacations, it was around holidays. It was around all these big moments in life, and my wife would say in her infinite wisdom, Why do you always have to ruin everything? She was upset about it, not just because I had used pornography, but she was upset about it more than anything because in that memory of that event, she would also be inserting my behavior that we had chosen not to engage in, which would bring up all sorts of feelings.

And if this has happened to you like it happened to me, then you probably have beat yourself up over it over and over and over again, and. What I want to say to you is beating yourself up is not going to make it better. Recognizing that you are not going to be an appreciably different person than you were yesterday during these special times of the year is a way not only to set aside shame and keep shame at bay and keep that.

Additional negative feeling that compounding negative feeling at bay. But it's also a way to recognize that you are still growing and you're still learning. And so you can focus your energy on the things that matter in the moment. And for that day, rather than focus on what you're not, cuz focusing on what you're not, it's not gonna make you a better person focusing on what you can do.

That's what's actually gonna make you a better person. And when you don't expect yourself to be different than you are on a every other day. Then you can focus on what you want to be. Number three, and this is one of my favorites, this is number three, is one of those ones that you can put into life every day, and that is, be prepared to be disappointed.

In fact, if you're a human, which I think all of us listening are, I don't know if I have any ape or I don't know if any giraffes are listening, but I do know that most of my listeners are human. If you are human, you are going to be disappointed. On a regular basis. And so if you simply choose to understand that you're going to see disappointment in your daily life and not be upset about it, then you're gonna be better off.

You know, as a kid growing up, I was almost invariably disappointed at Christmas. I remember one Christmas out of all the Christmases. That I got the thing that I wanted, I had wanted a hiking backpack. Strangely, I don't think I ever actually used that hiking backpack. It was an external frame, red backpack with a black frame, black plastic frame.

I loved that backpack. I do not remember actually ever using it. Maybe I did, but that was the one gift that I remember getting ever in my life as a child. That I was so grateful for that I loved every other Christmas. I'm pretty sure I was disappointed. And by the way, your kids are gonna be disappointed this Christmas.

Just count on it, because no matter what you get them, they are going to say, well, where's this? Or they're gonna wonder, where's that? I have yet to come across a kid who was very good. At being very grateful for everything that they got. I have . I have a seven year old boy who quite literally every day asks me for something for Christmas.

If it's, if Christmas is coming up or for his birthday, I'm not kidding you, his birthday's in July. Him and his twin sister, their birthdays are in July. Every day he will come to me and say, Hey, I want this for my birthday. If it's, between Christmas and July, and if it's between July and Christmas, he's like, Hey, I want this for my for Christmas.

I don't know what it is, but I can't imagine that he's not disappointed. Like every day when not everything that he ever asks for gets , gets sent to him your kids might not take the picture that you want with the smiles and the looking at the camera that. , I remember one Christmas we had just moved into our house in St.

George and we had all the kids piled up in front of the Christmas tree, and we were trying to coerce them into taking a great Christmas picture so we could send it out to all our family. And Darcy was . Pissed because none of the kids were looking at the right moment. One of our sons, who's kind of a jokester, was doing the thing that he does where he's not really doing the thing that everybody else is doing, and so he wasn't looking at the camera or he was trying to get somebody else's attention and.

She got so mad. This was Christmas Eve and it pretty much ended the night. It was like, okay, go ahead. Go to bed. We're done with you. I'm very upset with you. That was all in her thoughts. Those kids were just being kids, right? We could have been more interesting. We could have. Coax them more. We, there's lots we could have done, but kids are just gonna do be kids.

They're gonna continue to be kids, they're always gonna be kids. Your parents or your in-laws, they're probably gonna be the same person on Christmas morning that they were on Christmas Eve or last July. So be prepared for someone to say something rude. , be prepared for someone to say something that doesn't jive with the way that you feel the world should be.

Recognize that you won't be able to change anyone this holiday season despite what you might want. Be prepared to just sit back and appreciate the feeling of disappointment in a way that you've never appreciated it before. And I'm not saying that disappointment is exactly what you should be looking forward to in life.

What I am saying is there's a great deal of research out there that says, that shows that when you simply accept disappointment and don't make it mean more than it has to, you're better off and you're much happier for it. And finally, number four, the fourth thing that you can do to keep your cool and be happy this Christmas season is remember that your thoughts are what?

Create your feelings. In fact, thoughts are the cause of all our emotions, what we think. is the thing that makes our feelings happen. So for me, this has always showed up in terms of what people say. So I've often observed that someone can say something and depending on who you are, the interpretation of what they say can either be a negative or a positive.

I've literally watched people say the same thing to two different individuals, and those individuals reacted so differently as to make me question whether they were on the same planet. An exciting example of this might be someone saying to you, Happy holidays, and you really think they should say Merry Christmas.

Well, feel free to question your thought as to why you think that that person should say whatever it is that you think that they should say. A pretty important and very interesting component of this is that you can take the thoughts that come and you can use them the way that you have been using them to feel bad about whatever situation is going on, or you can create deliberate thoughts that serve you better.

now you have to take some time and you have to program those thoughts into your brain and into your life with repetition to build a new neural pathway that's stronger than your old thought. But it's possible to simply change what you're thinking, to a new thought that serves you better and provides you with greater happiness.

It's not easy, but it is possible and it does take a little bit of practice. . So here's some thoughts that you may want to try on this holiday season, and if they help you, if they serve you, great, and if they don't, you don't have to choose them. But these are some thoughts that have helped me in the past.

These are some thoughts that have helped me become a little bit better over the holidays and really in general, so that I can be the person that I want to be at the moment. I'm trying to be that person. One of the first thoughts that comes to mind when I think about Christmas is, Everything is as it should be.

Now, this is an interesting one because I think a lot of times we, like I said at the beginning, we have expectations and we want this or we want that, and the food may be cold or the food may be the wrong food. At my in-laws, there's a very specific Christmas dinner and if something's missing, then that's caused for a discussion.

But if we simply say everything is as it should be, Then we don't have to worry about it. We don't have to get upset if your favorite dish is not on the table. You can simply choose to be happy that there's so much wonderful bounty here and all your families around, right? It was meant to happen the way it did.

That's another variation on everything is as it should be. . You can also say something to the effect of, you are exactly as you should be. Or he is exactly as he should be, or she is exactly as she should be. They're doing exactly what they should be doing because that's who they are. And then here's another one that's different than the should bes, but can give you an a, a perspective that will allow you to simply choose who you want to be, right?

It's love is always an option. You can always choose to love people. . And the nice thing about that is you don't have to expect anything from them in return. Love is something that you choose to feel in your mind and in your body that you don't get from someone else. You can't go out and say, give me the love that you have in you and put it inside me.

That's not how it works. When you choose love. You get to feel something that serves you. You get to feel something that makes you feel good rather than choosing to be upset about something that someone did or some something that somebody said. Another variation on this is I'm responsible for everything that I think and feel, which is true.

You get to choose your thoughts, you get to choose your feelings, and no one is making you feel. one way or another. There was a great talk about this in general conference about taking offense, right? It's an interesting phrase that we use in English here to taking offense to mean that you are choosing to be offended by something that someone did or said.

They are not giving offense. That's not really a phrase. They're not making you feel offended. You are choosing. to take on the feelings of offended because of how you think that they should or shouldn't be doing something. How you think they. Should or shouldn't be acting right now. Being responsible for everything that I think and feel is, is difficult for some of us because we're like, no, my wife should take care of this, or That person should be responsible for that.

Or, when I wake up in the morning and I'm grumpy, that's not my fault. And it really is an empowering feeling to say, I get to choose who I want to be and how I want to feel. and when I choose to feel and act in a way that is most aligned with who I want to be and how I want to portray myself, that's when I feel my best.

So being empowered is an essential component of understanding your own responsibility and your thoughts and your feelings. Along with that, here's another thought that you can put in, is no one can cause an emotion inside me. . Now, that is an empowering feeling, right? That's an idea that no matter what your mother-in-law says about whether your kids are well behaved, or your ch or your wife's cooking is not good enough, whatever that looks like, your decorations aren't manly enough according to your father-in-law or simply,

I can't believe you wore that ugly Christmas sweater again, right? No one can cause any emotion inside you. You can choose to be offended. You can choose to be happy about what they say. You can choose to say, oh, that's funny. You said that last year. Just like you say it every year, it's always nice to know that you are gonna be consistent, right?

You can. You can choose whatever emotion you want, but you may have to think about those things beforehand so that you. Know how you wanna react in given situations and practice ahead of time so you can feel disappointed if that's what you want to choose to feel. Or you can choose to feel something else.

Here's another one that I love, especially around the holidays, because people are just gonna do what people do because people are gonna just do what people do. People are allowed to behave the way they want. , let me say that again. People are allowed to behave the way they want. This is one of my favorites because it hearkens back to the eternal principle of agency, which is simply that you have the ability to choose your own behavior.

And when you have the ability to choose your own behavior, what does that mean? That means that sometimes you're gonna do things and say things that are not. e Exactly. Nice. That are not exactly the way that we, as a society might think you should behave. You're gonna say and do things that are not the kind of person that you wanna be.

Like, we have all done it, we've all criticized, someone's driving and then done the exact same thing. People are always gonna behave that the way that they want. They are not going to necessarily conform to your idea of what they should be. And that's okay. Another thought that I would, that I love to incorporate around the holidays is nothing has gone wrong here.

We've all heard those stories of the time when somebody messed up dinner. In fact, , one particular story in our, in my childhood was that my mother was making corn chowder. One of my favorite, one of my favorite dishes. We lived in Germany at the time and mom was making corn chowder and she kept. adding what she thought was corn starch, which is a thickener, which helps, make your soup a little bit thicker.

And my mom could not figure out for the life of her what in the world was making this soup so sweet until she looked at the box again and figured out that she was not putting in corn starch, but she was putting in powdered sugar. And she realized, oh my gosh, I , I'm gonna have to order pizza that night right now.

That's a funny story. But at the time, everybody was upset. Mom was upset, dad was upset, she was like, ah, I mean, you know, she did not have a backup plan, so we had to order pizza. What made this particularly difficult night is that when we ordered the pizza, which was being delivered from about two and a half kilometers away from the Air Force base that we lived near, we were off base.

That pizza did not come for like an hour and a half. So by the time the pizza had arrived, not only had we not had our soup, but we were all so starving so as to be upset with everything and anything that went on. And I know for a fact that poor pizza delivery person did not get a tip that night.

My mom was that mad. And what I realized in thinking back at that story is that story. is funny in hindsight because I choose to see it that way. I could also think about that story in a way that would make me upset. I can't believe that, and the thoughts along those lines would be, I.

I can't believe my mom screwed up the dinner . I can't believe my mom screwed up putting corn starch in the soup. I mean, how could you make such a silly mistake? And I can't believe that we waited so long for our pizza, but if I choose to think, well, nothing really went wrong, we nobody died. Nobody starved to death.

It really becomes a different kind of story. And that's kind of the attitude that you can bring to whatever is going on in the situation that you're dealing with. Nothing has gone wrong here. Gives you the ability to choose how you want to feel about what's happening in front of you, rather than turning it into a spectacle where you're upset or where someone else walks out of the room in tears because of what you say.

and that's not the kind of person that I think we want to be. The kind of person that we, that I wanted to be, and the kind of person that I think we all want to be is someone who encourages and uplifts others around them. And that's much easier to do when we think nothing has gone wrong here. In fact, this is perfect.

This is an opportunity to show love to one another. And finally, the last thought that I want to give you, and again, try these thoughts on if they serve you, great. If they don't, feel free to find different thoughts. But the last thought I want to give you, and then this is particularly important for those of us who have struggled with addictive behaviors and struggled with feeling good enough.

And so turning to addictive behaviors is one of the ways that we cope with stressful situations or stress with feeling feelings of inadequacy and feelings of loneliness and sadness is that I am enough. I want that to sink in for a minute. I am. Enough is an extraordinarily powerful and important thought to think, especially when it comes to getting to the place that you want to be as a person, becoming the person that you want to be.

I am enough, puts you on a level playing field. It doesn't put you down the hill from who you. Want to be. It puts you on a level playing field, and what that means is that you can get to where you want to go without fighting the uphill battle of first achieving something and then feeling how you want to feel because we achieve best and most extraordinarily.

When we feel the way that we want to feel and feeling like I am enough, knowing, thinking that I am enough, and knowing that that is true, that heavenly Father has put you on this earth and he loves you, and he has atoned for all of your sins through Jesus Christ and has put you in a position to now become somebody great, somebody that can thrive, somebody that can become the person that they want to become.

That's that's all you need. you are enough means that you can become whatever you want. You are enough means that you don't have to fight to show that you're better than you are. You just have to be who you are, be the person you want to be, and move in the direction you wanna move in. . All right guys.

Thank you so much for listening. I love Mastery Monday. I love taking the time each week to set myself up for a great week. This is a particularly fun week for me because I love Christmas time. I love having my kids open up their presents on Christmas Day, and I love seeing their smiling faces, the joy that that brings to them.

I do not necessarily like staying up super late and building things, but. The morning after is well worth it. Have another amazing week, and I will talk to you next week. Hey, thanks for listening to the Self-Mastery Podcast. Every day I get requests from people who are looking to change something in their life.

If that is you, if you need help overcoming your addictive behavior like pornography use, sign up for a free mini session at That's I'll put a link in show notes for you to follow. Also, it would mean the world to me if you were to leave a review for us.

Wherever you get your podcast, it'll go a long way to helping others find us. Thanks again.

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