EPISODE 50: Own your life - 3 keysAug 24, 2020
Mastering pornography means dealing with discomfort
A lot of my clients come to me with this one question, why do I behave one way, when I believe I should behave another.
A lot of you are listening to this podcast because of pornography use, but this work and all the principles apply to any unwanted behavior that you might be engaging in.
But I’m going to use the example of pornography. We ask, “why do I turn to pornography, when I know that it is against my values, I want to stop using it, and I am causing myself so much shame because I use it?”
They never ask it like that, but essentially that is what they are all asking, in one way or another.
They ask that because they feel stuck in one way or another. They often feel like there is no way to quit this habit because they go back to it time and again.
At its core pornography use is an escape from discomfort. that goes against our values, damages our sense of self confidence and leaves us with a sense that we lack control over our own behavior
Why do we use pornography when it goes against our values? Because it helps us escape discomfort in a moment.
Why do we use pornography when we want to eliminate its use from our behaviors? Because it feels good when we are feeling bad.
Why does our pornography use go contrary to our sense of control of how we want to behave? Because we tell ourselves that we should behave differently than we are.
So, if we are using pornography to escape discomfort and feel good, while simultaneously telling ourselves that we should behave differently, it’s no wonder that we might feel stuck and trapped by this behavior.
We believe one thing, we do another.
So, in order to reconcile that disconnection we have to rationalize what is happening. Sometimes that means that we call ourselves addicts. Sometimes that means that we say we are powerless. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we deserve this indulgence because someone or something outside us made it our only recourse to feel good.
No matter the exact way we do it, in some way or another, in order to maintain our sense that we are a good person we tell ourselves a story that makes what we are doing somehow ok, at least for a moment.
Then we beat ourselves up. We tell ourselves that we are stuck in this decision because we aren’t making a different decision
I had a client this morning, talking about his career said, “I know I’m not gonna quit, so that puts me in this box of not having a choice.”
His statement there is really telling. He says, “I know I’m not gonna quit.” Which is a statement that shows that he is making this decision. If he had stopped there and been ok with that statement, then he would be in a position of power over his choices and fully realizing his ownership of where he is. But the second part of his statement, “that puts me in this box of not having a choice” which he believes, makes him a victim of his own choice. He is his own captor.
Partly because he is telling himself a story that the decision he made is now not his. He externalizes the cause of why he feels trapped. It’s subtle, but if you listen closely, he says, that now he’s in a “box of not having a choice.”
We do this with pornography, we do this with food, we do this with anything in our lives that makes us feel trapped or stuck because we see it as detrimental to our long-term happiness.
For example, “I can’t believe I ate that entire thing, but it’s just so good I couldn’t stop.”
This story tells us that the thing we ate made us a victim because it was so good.
Take out the can’t and the couldn’t and the story becomes more true. “I believe I ate that entire thing, It’s just so good.”
That is a position of fully accepting why we ate it and who is responsible.
The thing was eaten regardless of the story we tell ourselves.
The decision was made by you whether you accept responsibility and ownership or not.
The problem with abdicating our responsibility is that now we are blaming something outside of us for the results in our life, which feels disempowering and leads us to do things that relinquish our power to achieve what we want.
For my client this morning, after pointing out that he was the victim of his own story and that was holding him back from being the best he could be in his career, his next question was, “how do you practice and believe that thought, ‘I have a choice’? How do I stay in that mindset?”
Let me give you 3 key things that you can do to get to a place where you not only believe that you have a choice, but that the choices you make and the life you lead is 100% your responsibility and you own every aspect of it.
1. Stop playing pretend with what your life is supposed to be.
a. Take the phrases, “I should, I shouldn’t and I can’t” out of your vocabulary, they aren’t true
b. Taking those phrases out of your vocabulary will begin to place the ownership of all your choices back where it belongs – in your court
c. Quit looking into your past and telling yourself a story about how you would have done it differently
i. House story
ii. We say things like, had I known about this, I never would have married you. This isn’t something I ever would have chosen
iii. When we break that down – that’s not usually true
iv. Many of the women we talk to knew
v. What trial would we choose
vi. This is really just a story that leaves us powerless and the victim
2. Be compassionate with yourself
a. I’m here because I chose this, and that’s ok
i. Good phrase to integrate into your beliefs
ii. You made the best decision you could make at the time.
iii. I had to start by deciding that I am still a child of God and not irredeemable because of my pornography use.
iv. I was in the process of learning how to deal with my feelings
b. Only go as fast as you can go,
i. Baby’s learn to walk
ii. We allow them be comfortable to the point that they can take the necessary risks that will allow them to first learn to crawl, then walk, then, finally, run
iii. The sooner you realise that the sooner you’ll have compassion enough to stop beating up on yourself and start focusing on the skills and techniques like the ones we teach our clients that help you stop using unwanted behaviors
3. Stop asking why you aren’t there yet
a. don’t beat yourself up for not being there yet
i. that creates shame and frustration
b. Be fully present with the here and now and you will be able to build the future you want
i. Pornography use, playing pretend with our past and our future, other buffers keep us from being in the here and now.
c. be willing to be uncomfortable now
i. commitment, empowerment, discipline are not really comfortable feelings
ii. generals in war feel those things – not happy about the lives they will lose
iii. they are working toward a greater good and long term peace
iv. you are working toward greater happiness and long-term joy
v. Avoiding discomfort now usually leads to long-term discomfort
vi. Embracing discomfort now usually leads to long-term comfort
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