EPISODE 63: Your Brain is a Liar

Nov 22, 2020

Artwork for podcast Overcome Pornography: The Self Mastery Podcast


Your brain is probably lying to you

One of the things that happens when we start down the path of buffering is that our brains will tell us things that are not true. 


It will try subtle phrases that it knows have worked in the past and that have taken you down the path of your buffer before.  


It does this because a little lie is ok most of the time and especially if it is said to make someone feel ok. 


You know what I mean if you’ve ever told your spouse that you loved her in that dress when you really hated it.  


Little white lies are actually pretty normal, simple stories that we all use to grease the wheels of social interaction. 


You wouldn’t tell your boss that you absolutely can’t stand being in meetins with him because he never shuts up.  So when he asks, “do you think we got the message across?” rather than saying, ‘yeah, you repeated yourself about 8 times” you say, “I’m certain the team knows what you were trying to convey.”


We also do this with our kids, we indulge them with stories that, while not strictly true, help us and help them navigate the world around us.  


The easter bunny and santa claus are examples of this, but also when we are encouraging our children to accomplish something they’ve never done before we tell them, “I know you can do it” when you know no such thing, but you simply think it will help them try. 


what we say to others, while not about being deceitful, can often be construed as not quite truthful when put under strict scrutiny. 


Our brains use this same capacity to keep our external interactions running smoothly on our internal dialogue as well. 


The phrase my brain used to tell me “This is the last time”


I remember distinctly being upstairs in our Chugiak Alaska home as a kid, tucked away in the cubby under my parents water bed.  


It was always warm in there and since we lived in Alaska, it was a great place to hang out, read a book and be alone. 


By that point in my life I had been taught that masturbation was to be avoided so there I was, warm and cozy and wrestling with the hormones of a pubescent boy. 


I told myself, “this will be the last time and then I’ll never do it again.”


It made my decision to masturbate easier.  It was a final farewell.


It made it so that immediately afterward I felt good about myself.  I felt like I was going to follow through with that promise I made to myself. 


We do this with food too. “I’ll start my diet on Monday.”


You’ve already not followed your diet today, it’s ok if you don’t follow it the rest of the day. 


These are some of the things it says to help us feel better when we are not doing the things that we said we would.


These are the little white lies that grease the wheels of feeling uncomfortable.  


The simple thoughts that, when you examine them closely, often turn out to be only partially or completely untrue. 



Our brain lies because it wants us to feel good. 


It wants us to know that we are going to be ok, that we are safe, that we will survive. 


When we choose to believe these stories our brain tells us we get immediate relief from the discomfort that we are feeling by saying yes to a buffer that we may not really want in our lives. 


For instance, it’s the holidays, I have a bag of white chocolate mint pretzels in the house.


I also have been working on not eating mindlessly and eating healthily. 


When I see those pretzels my brain will tell me, “it’s not that bad, you’ll just have one.” 


I grab one and chomp it down. 


Then, to keep me from feeling the discomfort of having to stop eating them and the discomfort that will come because I now have eaten something that wasn’t really going to help me reach my goals my brain will offer me a new thought.  “It’s not that bad.”


“You’re already here you might as well keep going” 


My brain isn’t outright trying to lie to me, it is just trying to make me feel better when it knows there is discomfort on my horizon. 


So how do we deal with our brain lying to us when we really want to stick to our goals and become the masters of self?


And if you have questions about this topic or anything we discuss on the podcast, register for our free webinar Sunday night December 6 at 8 Mountain time. There will be a link in the show notes or you can go to



The first thing you are going to want to master so you can work with your brain and not fight against it is going to be, recognizing the urge. 


Urges are thoughts and feelings that intensely drive us to actions that feel better than our current state. 


To get to a place where you can manage these urges you first have to start to recognize them.  


You’ll have to pay attention to when you are uncomfortable and be willing to question those thoughts and feelings and delay action.


Delaying action here or withholding action is one of the hardest things we do.  People are set up to act, there is a well known principle called action bias that says we would rather act than wait.


Once you notice the thoughts and urges The next thing you’ll need to do is question them. 


Why am I feeling this way?  can I just feel this instead of doing anything about it? What is bringing this up for me? 


This process of having a discussion with your brain is key to getting to the root of the issue. 


For me when I was eating those delicious chocolate covered pretzels, I was bored, and tired.  


It would be more in line with the purposeful and intentional person I want to be to put the bag down and go to bed. 


Having the conversation, without judgement helps us determine what we really want and gives us a better understanding of how this request for action from our brain will play out in our long term lives. 


The last thing you need to do with those thoughts and urges is feel them to their fullest.  


This is a little difficult at times because sometimes we feel like our feelings go on and on.  But if we just stick to one feeling at a time, it takes only about 90 seconds to go from beginning to end. 


That’s because our feelings are chemicals in our bodies that run a course.  Just like when you feel happy, it doesn’t last forever, when we feel hungry or lonely it won’t last forever, as long as we don’t keep repeating the story in new ways, question the thoughts that brought up the feelings and feel what we are feeling to the fullest. 


So, the next time your brain tries to pull one over on you and talk you into buffering with food or pornography or anything that you have chosen to quit but don’t quite seem to have it kicked, take a moment and ask, is my brain telling me the truth about what it’s asking me to do?


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