Episode 146: Focus on YouJun 20, 2022
Overcome Pornography: Focusing on Yourself Is the Only Way
Happy Fathers’ Day yesterday! I hope it was a pleasant day with ample food and kind words.
Before I forget, this week I have a free masterclass set up for you on Wednesday at 7:30 PM MT. We are going to be learning how to drop the porn struggle. Be sure to register at zachspafford.com/freecall
How to become an expert on yourself and why it matters if you want to leave pornography behind.
When I am talking with clients and reflecting back on my own experiences there are a few common themes I see.
How much time do you spend focusing on things outside of you trying to control your results?
How might things change if you stopped focusing on things outside of yourself and instead turn your focus inward on what you do have control over?
Part of the reason that we all struggle with anxiety, whether it is pornography related or not, is that there is a near-universal sense among us that something outside of us is causing our pain.
When we struggle, especially when that struggle involves other people, we tend to label them as the problem. While it is true that, by virtue of being a human, others, especially our spouses, can be part of the problem, it is much more important to recognize our own role in our anxieties and why they exist.
We say things like, “if only my wife would have sex with me more.” Or, “I wish Sharon in accounting would dress more modestly.”
What is happening is that our anxiety around being a good person, finds a place outside of us to focus and makes that the problem. Once that occurs, we no longer own our agency, we’ve given it away, often to someone who has no idea they have it.
While this isn’t the only reason people choose pornography or struggle when their spouse does, it is one that I want to talk about today.
I also want to give you one simple exercise that you can use to begin leaving behind your external focus and refocus on yourself as the owner and agent of your own happiness.
When we are anxious, there are basically four responses that are available to us. You’re probably familiar with fight and flight, but there is also freeze and worry.
Worry is probably the one that comes up most often when we are talking about anxiety around pornography. For men and women who choose pornography, we are worrying about how we are going to keep from viewing or choosing pornography. For women and men who are supporting someone who chooses pornography, they are worrying about how they can keep their partner from choosing pornography in the future.
This endless cycle of worry and imagining new worries is keeping us from engaging directly with actual, reality based struggles that we are facing.
I think, this worry cycle also puts us in a place of victimhood. When we label the source of our struggle as some external individual or force that we don’t have any power to control, we become victims in a perpetual downward spiral of victimhood, trying to control, and failure that leads to repeating the process.
This is us, investing a lot of time and energy and not getting what we want out of it.
For pornogrpahy users, we invest in programs, plans, and giving power to others, only to find that when the urge comes and we are on the path of finding porn, we find it.
For spouses, we invest in thinking up ways to manage our partner’s internet, working to distract their eyeballs, and worrying excessively about the next time they might fail us, because we can’t control them.
For pornography users, we also spend a lot of time working to manage our spouse’s perceptions of us.
All of us understand that the behaviors of our spouse are part of the problem because they are really important to us and their behavior impacts us.
What we forget is that their behaviors are not the cause of our problems. The cause of our problems is that we aren’t very good at dealing with our own anxiety.
In other words, acting like our spouse is the cause of our problems is like acting like the policeman who pulled us over is the cause of our problems. While he may be creating a painful moment, he didn’t create the problem. Be clear, that isn’t to say that we deserve how our partner is behaving, it is just a metaphor about where our focus needs to be.
So, instead of giving away our agency to others, here’s what you can do to refocus your efforts on yourself.
Instead of asking yourself, Why am I so anxious?, instead ask, “How do I manage my anxiety, and how effective is it?
Or, rather than, “Why doesn’t my wife/husband understand me?” try, “What part am I playing in the way my relationship is functioning?”
Questions that focus on what I’m doing, thinking, or feeling are going to help you focus in on yourself.
This isn’t going to solve the problem right away. It isn’t going to fix everything overnight.
What it is going to do is to reframe the conversation for your mind and begin to place it’s amazing problem solving focus on the right thing. You. Things you can do and things you can change.
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