EPISODE 22: Overcoming Porn Means Addressing Pain Now

Feb 17, 2020

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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.

Hi everybody, and welcome to the President's Day edition of Mastery Monday. This is Zach Spafford here on the Self-Mastery Podcast. Today we are gonna talk about pain, how to process it so that it doesn't turn into buffering. So we've talked a little bit about life being 50 50. We did that in episode 12.

So you can go back and you can listen to that one if you're not familiar with this concept. But essentially it's the idea, it's the concept that there's opposition in all things. And so your life is gonna usually be about 50% negative and 50% positive. So if we take that concept and we look at it we need to recognize then that it's important to be able to feel your pain.

So I'm gonna talk about pain and really, I'm just gonna talk about it as a group. But what I'm talking about here are lots of negative emotions like loneliness or sadness, or even tired and upset, whatever you might think of as a negative emotion. That's basically what we're talking about.

So, People who are pornography users, or overeaters or Overspenders, or people who use video games excessively. A lot of times what we're doing is we're buffering away negative feelings. We're taking the feelings that we have and we're saying, I don't want to feel that right now. I'm gonna buffer that away with this dopamine hit version of a good thing.

What our lower brain doesn't understand is that momentary dopamine hit, that's what leads to increased pain in the long run. So let's talk about what's happening when we feel pain. Usually this is a basically the process that we go through when pain comes into our lives, right? So something happens to trigger that pain.

Your wife might be going out for a girl's night, and so you're home and then you feel lonely. You might be on a business trip, say you might feel like you have nothing to do, which might translate into being bored. Something might have happened at work, and so now you feel like you are a failure. Or moms, this is a big one for you.

Your kids' behavior is bad, so you feel like a bad mom. It's actually a big one for me, is a, as a father too, because sometimes when my kids do things that I'm like, why are you doing that? Then you feel bad and you're like, I'm not a, I'm not a good parent. So you don't know why you're feeling this, not because you don't know what happened usually, but because your mind is really fast.

It's really good at getting, okay, I feel pain now let's just move on. And we usually have some sort of habit that we use to buffer away that moment. So we find ourselves removed from the situation before we really can reflect on what went on and that pain that goes into your body and you feel it somewhere and then you resist.

So this is the part that I was talking about where you have that habit you take and you use pornography or you put food in your mouth or you might go and you might buy something, some excessive spending, or you might go on social media and you might scroll and see, how many likes did I get?

Or was this whatever, amazing. And let yourself get distracted and you're resisting that emotion and in, in doing so, you're taking on a behavior that in and of itself, In tiny little doses, like sex is not bad, but pornography distilled down and put into your life on a regular basis that's going to cause pain.

Food is not bad, but if you eat too much of it, that's going to cause some long-term pain, right? Excessive spending. That may not be a big deal. It may not be a big deal to go on and just buy you know that cat tower. Today, but maybe buying a cat tower every day or buying something every day in the long run is going to create a long-term negative effect.

So using these little things to avoid feelings creates some additional negative emotions. Pornography, that the feelings and the emotions that I most readily associate with pornography use in the long run are guilt, shame, self-loathing, disconnection from your partner. Food. This is a good one, right?

So again, guilt, shame, and self-loathing, but maybe overweight maybe disconnection from others around you because you feel like you can't have a conversation with them. Overspending again, guilt and shame, but here we add financial worry. We a, we might add out of control, the feeling of being out of control to the point where, maybe I can't pay my bills or whatever.

Social media scrolling. This is an interesting one. So I think this one has a lot more to do with disconnected. I don't think there's a lot of guilt and shame there unless you like drag it out for a really long time, but disconnection from people around you and then add in envy and maybe a lack of self-confidence or unct feelings and then maybe depressed.

There's actually a lot of research out there now that shows that people who spend an excessive amount of time on social media tend to have. Higher levels of depression. So there's a lot that goes on when you resist emotion by using a buffer and these tactics, they create this long-term increase in pain, even though in the moment they're helping you get rid of it in the long-term you won't be able to avoid it.

In fact, it's interesting because in the moment you might avoid feeling. So for me, when I would go on business trips, That was a time when I would use pornography pretty pretty much almost every time. And you'd go on a business trip and you're sitting there in your hotel room and the days events are all over.

And now what do I do with myself? And you're lonely. And you pick up the phone and you start to scroll and all of a sudden you, you're into using pornography and you stop feeling lonely for a moment because you're feeling arousal or you're feeling whatever. And then at the end of that moment, You still feel lonely and now you have added on top of that, you have this feeling of guilt and shame and self-loathing and this disconnect from your partner.

Cuz it's well how can I tell them this thing that I just did? And that's really hard to get past because now you have doubled down. We call it doubling down on that negative feeling and created a negative feeling. That's, if it's not worse, it's. , it's just in addition to the negativity that you are already feeling.

So if your life's 50 50, then taking a negative moment like loneliness and adding to it, guilt and shame and all the other negative emotions that we've already talked about, you are now expanding the negative side of that 50 50 equation. And instead of. Just feeling that loneliness and then saying, okay, now I'm gonna go do something else.

And feeling happiness on the flip side of that. So we don't usually think of long-term consequences of our actions, especially when we feel pain. Think about, if you get touch, if you touch a hot stove, we react to that pain immediately and we, we pull our hand away and that's our lower brain.

It's getting us that immediate relief. , I took my daughters, I took my two youngest daughters to get vaccinated, and they screamed and they fussed and they cried, and they were like, why are you giving me shots? Because they knew that the shots were gonna hurt. What they didn't think about and what they don't understand, they don't have that capacity to understand yet, is that momentary pain of a shot.

Greatly decreases the likelihood that they're gonna get something like polio or measles or some other disease with long-lasting effects. And we've seen this recently with the measles outbreaks that have happened where people have said, no, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna risk getting a shot. I'm gonna risk getting the measles.

And that's, I'm not making a judgment call on that one way or the other, but understanding those consequences and saying, I understand why I'm making this choice. To feel this pain now versus feeling it later. That's the process that you have to go through and we don't usually choose to feel pain.

People don't like to feel pain. Choosing to avoid pain in that moment, though it magnifies it long run. So over readers see this in their physical weight. Pornography users see this in their self-confidence and their relationships. When we scroll social media to access, it turns into greater depression rates, lower life satisfaction.

You can avoid pain in the moment with a quick hit of dopamine, but that doesn't remove the underlying issue. And more often than not it really magnifies negativity in your life. So what do you do about that? Because this is the thing that my clients come to me about. They come and they say, I'm feeling upset because I have this pornography problem.

So how do I deal with it? How do I overcome it? How do I manage my life in such a way that will allow me to stop feeling so bad all the time? And one of the things that I tell my clients, I jokingly say this, but it's true, is you pay me a lot of money to teach you how to feel bad. But in the process of feeling bad, and this is the part that I don't say in the process of feeling bad and learning how to feel bad properly, you actually learn how to feel good more often than you currently are.

So here are four things that you can do to help keep your negative thoughts and feelings for magnifying your pain in the long run. So the first thing that I recommend that all my clients do when they're feeling pain is do a thought download. When you start to feel that pain, get out a piece of paper.

Write it all down. Get all those thoughts that are going through your head, out of your head and onto paper so you can physically see them so you know what they're, they look like, so you can understand exactly what's happening. You may not be able to do this all the time, right? You may be in a meeting or whatever, and you can't necessarily just jot it all down.

But the more you practice this, the more likely you are to start seeing those thoughts that generate your pain, and this is going to help you succeed. In the long run, rather than doubling down on the pain and buffering. The next thing that I talk about with all my clients is own your pain. Understand and believe.

So it's one thing to understand something that's totally separate for you to believe that thing, that your pain comes from your thought, believing that your pain is yours and not because of someone or something else. Owning that a hundred percent and saying, this comes from inside me. How can I understand that and how can I understand what it's doing to me and why it's doing what it's doing?

Owning your own pain is really hard because I think we all like to blame other people for all kinds of things. We are we don't like to be wrong and we don't like to have problems that we can't solve, and so we say, this is somebody else's fault in some way a lot of times, but.

Owning it and saying, this pain is something that I created, and I'm going to choose to own that. Now, that doesn't mean you have to change that pain immediately. That's not what I'm saying. But owning your pain, owning the fact that you're creating it, that's gonna go a long way to you becoming able to process it and not dwell on it, and not use it as a, an excuse to go and buffer.

So the next thing that I talk to about with my clients is ask yourself questions. The process of asking yourself questions about your thoughts is really important because it begins to expose those thoughts for their true value in your life. Is this thought serving me? Is it helpful for me to think that I'm lonely?

Is it helpful for me to think that my wife doesn't love me? Or, whatever it is that you're thinking, that's creating these feelings of loneliness or sadness or whatever painful feelings are being generated. Are those thoughts actually helpful to you? And then how can this pain help me? A lot of times if there is pain and we're, if someone dies, that's, that might be a pain that you want to feel, you may want to feel that pain and say, this is the part of the grieving process.

I'm gonna feel this pain for a little while because I really, truly miss that person. I love that person and this is how I show that. I'm not asking people to get rid of all their pain in their lives cause I don't think that's possible. What I am saying is be conscious and be conscientious of the pain that you are feeling and recognize good pain versus bad pain.

Recognize that there are opportunities to feel appropriate levels of pain in your life and that feeling it full on is going to serve you in the long run. Fourth thing that I ask people to do when they're dealing with pain, when they're dealing with whatever issues they're dealing with is invite yourself to let go of that thought.

Sometimes, like I said, those thoughts that caused pain, they're helpful, but sometimes they're not. So for me, one of the things that I dealt with as a pornography user was this thought that I can't stop looking at pornography. When I thought that thought, it made me feel completely helpless.

It made it so that I was unable in my own mind to overcome this issue. Well, the problem with that is, is that that would help me dive deeper into my pornography use. It would make it so that I was like, oh yeah I can't overcome this, so I might as well just give into it. I might as well just stay in this place and never leave it.

And when I finally gave up that thought, When I finally said, it's not true that I can't stop using pornography because it wasn't, there were times when I could stop using pornography, physically stop using pornography. I wasn't always using pornography, so I knew it wasn't true that I couldn't stop using pornography.

When I gave that thought up, I started to believe things that were actually much more useful and actually brought me further along the path to. Overcoming pornography than beating myself up over not being able to stop. And you, like I said, you may wanna keep certain thoughts because that that pain is useful or it's meaningful in some way, but it may be time to let go of others more than anything.

Feeling your pain in the moment rather than buffering it away with food or pornography or video games or social media, whatever, that's going to make your life more full, that's gonna allow you to enjoy the positive 50% of life more completely. Back to the scriptures, when we talk about opposition in all things, this is what people really don't understand about this particular scripture and this particular gospel doctrine, which is I, a lot of times people say, well, I wanna feel good all the time.

Opposition in all things tells me, at least in my own interpretation, that you're not gonna feel good all the time. It's not possible. What is possible, however, Is that you feel good about half the time, so don't spend the negative 50% of your life doubling down on that negativity and eating up the positive 50% of your life.

All right, everybody. Happy President's Day. I hope it's amazing, and I hope this week is amazing for you. We'll 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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