EPISODE 58: Abdication vs delegation

Oct 18, 2020

Artwork for podcast Overcome Pornography: The Self Mastery Podcast


Abdication v delegation

I’m releasing this while I’m walking down a slot canyon somewhere in southern Ut so if you want to get together with me while I’m here, feel free to message me on Instagram zachspafford.theselfmasterycoach I love angelicas, the peruvian chicken place or even the Indian place. 


On Friday two weeks ago I was in my weekly meeting with my friend Jody Moore, talking about interrupting mirroring and anthropomorphizing and all the fun stuff that we coaches talk about behind closed doors and as the discussion progressed a really interesting topic came up.


We were talking about abdication vs delegation.


This is something that I work on with my clients all the time.  Although I wouldn’t have called it this until we discussed it the other day. 


All of us do some form of either of these at various times. 


So, what is the difference between abdication and delegation. 


When it comes to how we interact with our agency this distinction can really make or break your path back from an unwanted habit. 


Our oldest has been learning to drive and as a result I have been learning to relax.  


As I have been learning to relax I have been thinking about this relationship between abdication and delegation as it relates to my son and as it relates to our habits. 


A couple of Sundays ago the oldest half of my kids and I went to church and left the younger ones at home with mom. 


My oldest got in the driver’s seat and we headed off on the 8 minute drive.  Along the way he made a wrong turn and I gave him direction on how to get back on track.  


As he drives, I pay attention to what he is doing with his hands, his eyes, his feet.  I help him with proper technique and sometimes I even yell stop when I think he’s going to hit something because he is driving too close to it. 


All along the way I am still taking responsibility for the path we take and even how he drives.  


Let me tell you about a different driving experience.  On the way to Utah Darcy and I took turns driving.  


While she drove I would try and get some sleep because I knew that it would be my turn soon enough because we were going from Milwaukee to st George a 24 hr trip that we wanted to do in one shot.  


As she drove I rarely paid attention.  Obviously, I would sleep at certain points so it was entirely her responsibility to get us from point a to point b. 


I took no responsibility for how she changed lanes, where her hands were posisitioned or whether she was watching the road.  


Abdication is giving up the responsibility for the decision making. 


Delegation is retaining responsibility for the decision making. 


Each has it’s place in our lives. But what I find when it comes to certain habits is that we are often abdicating when delegating would yield better results and more closely yield the outcomes we are striving toward. 


When I talk to clients, often they have abdicated their agency on certain topics.  Pornography is one of them.  


We think, I can’t ever look at pornography because it is unacceptable. Or with weight loss, we think, I can’t eat certain foods because they will make me gain weight. 


What we are doing when we do that is relinquishing our capacity to choose and allowing our lower brain to drive decisions based on the motivational triangle rather than what will be fulfilling for our long-term happiness. 


Listen to the following phrases, “I’m powerless against my addiction” or “I can’t stop using pornography” or “I shouldn’t look at pornography”.


Each one of these phrases places the responsibility for pornography viewing outside of our immediate control. And therefore outside our responsibility to choose.  


I’m powerless against my addiction talks as if pornography can walk into your living room tell you it’s there and that you’re going to watch 


I can’t stop is an interesting one, I always ask, what would you do if your wife walked in. 


I shouldn’t look refers to some rulebook that you have to follow and negates the power of agency and your part in choosing who you are and what you want.  Coffee is a great example of this for members. 


This place of abdication is a hard place to live from because the language of it tells us that we are out of control, incapable and weak. 


Whereas the place of Delegation sounds very different.  


When I view pornography, it is because I have made the decision to do so.


I can look at pornography, but I choose not to. 


Pornography is something that I have chosen to keep out of my life because I want it that way.  


In each of those phrases I hear someone who is taking full responsibility for the behavior they are dealing with.  


Interestingly, I also hear that perfection isn’t required.  So many of us believe that if we make the mistake that we should beat ourselves up over it.  


But taking responsibility for the behavior doesn’t mean you have to go medieval on yourself when a mistake is made or you stray from the path you’ve chosen.


It means that you are ready to get back in and correct the course, pay greater attention to the path you are traveling and understand the best way to teach yourself and learn from your mistakes.  


Abdication lets you act as though this isn’t something you can manage.  Delegation allows you to try new ways to let your brain run the habits that you have without giving up full responsibility for the outcome. 


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