Episode 237 - Embracing Growth: Transforming Shame into Self-Love

Mar 18, 2024


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Episode 237

[00:00:00] Scarlett 2i2 USB: Hey everybody and welcome to another Thrive Beyond Pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford. Zach Spafford. Today, we're going to talk about a topic that's pretty close to my heart. It's a concept of growing through shame. And I think that too often, most of us think that this is the way to grow. It's a path that so many of us have walked sometimes without even realizing it.

[00:00:19] So I want to unpack what that means. To use shame as a tool for growth, the impact that it has on us, and to begin to understand why we might be leaning on it. Growth through shame is essentially when we use self criticism, guilt, or shame as a motivator to change or improve aspects of ourselves. This might sound familiar to you if you've ever heard that inner voice that says you're not enough unless you've achieved a certain goal.

[00:00:41] You know, you're not enough if you haven't figured out porn yet, or maybe the belief that self punishment is necessary whenever you do make those mistakes. You know, you might put extra restrictions on yourself. You might push yourself harder, all those kinds of things. this mindset's pretty deeply rooted in the idea that our worth is conditional and that our actions and achievements have to make our worth rather than we are worthy.

[00:01:06] And it's important to recognize that this approach doesn't come from nowhere. It's a cultural, societal, and even sometimes a familial expectation that can reinforce this idea that we have to earn our worth. From a young age, most of us have been taught to compete, to stand out, to measure up. And in a lot of ways, our society really glorifies this narrative of overcoming through harsh self discipline and relentless self improvement.

[00:01:33] In fact, let me tell you the story about Alex, who generously shared his experience with me, and I'm going to share it with you. Alex spent a lot of years in a cycle of setting extremely high standards, he was always failing to meet them because he didn't have the tools to do it. And then he was beating himself up.

[00:01:50] He was berating himself over this problem. And it was a cycle that led to burnout over pornography. He was like, well, just screw it. I'm just not going to do it anymore. I'm not going to solve this problem doing the thing that I'm doing. And this had a lot of anxiety wrapped around it because of his relationship with his wife.

[00:02:08] And it really gave him this profound sense of being lost. And Alex's story is a powerful reminder of how common and harmful the approach to shame yourself can really be. So how does growing through shame affect most of us? Psychologically, growing through shame can have Pretty devastating effects. It can lead to increased anxiety.

[00:02:30] It can lead to depression. It can lead to depression and it can even impact your physical health. And it reinforces the belief that, and this idea reinforces the belief that we're only as good as our latest achievement and that failure makes us unworthy of love or respect. This mindset traps us in a cycle of conditional self worth where our esteem or self esteem is always hanging.

[00:02:57] By a thread of our next success or failure, you might wonder why anyone would choose this path. And the answer to that's pretty complex. For some it's learned behavior from childhood. I know for me, it kind of felt like I had to perform. I had to be a good boy. I was a terrible kid. I mean, I had ADHD and I was a bit of a pill.

[00:03:17] I actually was having a conversation with my mom last night. My dad's, uh, And I was recovering from a broken leg and we were hanging out over at the rehab place and she was telling me, man, you were a real tough kid to deal with because when we were trying to get you diagnosed for ADHD, you would like be on and the people that were diagnosing you, they were like, well, he's fine.

[00:03:39] So I was a pretty tough kid for a lot of people. We have this misguided idea that if we don't shame ourselves, we'll never get better. The fear of being average, maybe the fear of being enough, can be one of the ways that we adopt this harsh method. We mistakenly believe that it's the only way to achieve Greatness and avoid failure.

[00:04:01] And I would like to invite you to reflect on your own experiences with this. Have you ever found yourself using shame as a motivator? How does it actually feel to do that? Did it bring you closer to your goals? Did it leave you feeling drained and unworthy?

[00:04:15] Remember, understanding is the first step towards change. And this journey is a journey from self criticism to self love, from conditional to unconditional self acceptance. And loving yourself into growth is a real paradigm shift for most people. We're shifting the way that we see the world almost entirely.

[00:04:33] It means accepting, Where you are right now with all of your imperfections and treating yourself with kindness and compassion instead of motivating change by criticizing yourself. You use your capacity to encourage growth through understanding and patience and love. It's about recognizing that you are worthy of love exactly as you are and that growth is a journey.

[00:04:55] of adding to your life, not proving your worth. I know I did this a lot, especially in my corporate life. I was always like, I've got to be the best one here because if I'm not that I'm not enough. So this is not an uncommon thing for a lot of people to do. This approach is backed by psychological research.

[00:05:12] And Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT), which is what Darcy and I use to help people, for example, teaches us to accept our thoughts and feelings without judgment, to commit to our values and take action that enriches our lives. This is about moving towards your values and moving towards the things that you want instead of punching yourself in the face to make yourself feel better or punching yourself in the face to make yourself do better.

[00:05:37] Positive psychology focuses on cultivating positive experiences, behaviors, and thoughts. And both frameworks emphasize the importance of self compassion and understanding and fostering genuine sustainable growth. So this isn't what I like to call toxic positivity, where, you know, I'm happy and everything's great all the time.

[00:05:54] This is about using the positive aspects of the things that are in front of us to move forward and take those as the way to approach our issues. So we're not like, "I'm never bad and I'm always awesome." It's, "oh, what can I learn from this? How can I choose to understand this better? How can I see this more clearly and address it more actively?"

[00:06:16] That's the kind of thing that we're talking about when I talk about positive psychology.

[00:06:21] One of my clients that I was coaching this last week we'll call him Jordan described a really important turning point that he experienced recently, and that we discussed on his last coaching call. He really has begun to see how all the self hatred that he was experiencing was not making him any better or happier. And it certainly wasn't helping him reach his goals. He started to implement the practices that we discuss in coaching. And if you are experiencing something and you're like, I can't quite get over it, coaching is a really great way to do that. You can either go through the membership or you can get individual coaching.

[00:06:51] And what Jordan is learning in the coursework and through mindfulness and a lot of self reflection, he started to see that he could begin to practice self love for himself. Instead of saying, "oh well that's good enough for this guy or that guy," but it's really about how can I own this and, Really live in this space of I like me, I'm not perfect, but I like who I am.

[00:07:13] This didn't mean that he stopped trying to improve either. Instead, it really meant that his motivation came from a place of wanting to be good to himself, care for himself. Treat himself the way that he would treat someone else that he loved, instead of punishing himself.

[00:07:28] And the result of all that was that not only did Jordan start to achieve his goal to resolve his porn struggle. He also found a deeper sense of peace and self acceptance along the way.

[00:07:38] So how can we start this journey? What you want to do is you want to begin with mindfulness. Notice the way that you talk to yourself.

[00:07:44] What are the things that you say to yourself? Catch yourself being critical of yourself. Pause in that moment. Ask yourself, would I talk to somebody that I love this way? I always tell people, you're the only person that you always have to live with. So, being nice to that person is probably a pretty important component of just kind of living a good life.

[00:08:04] Try to reframe your thoughts with kindness and understanding. And that doesn't mean ignoring truths or being in that space of, toxic positivity. But it does mean that you don't have to frame everything from, "I stink and I would be better if I weren't so terrible at everything."

[00:08:22] write down the things that you do appreciate. Write down the things that you're finding, write down the successes, write down whatever small, good things are coming out of the process that you're going through.

[00:08:33] And recognize your worth and your own actual capabilities, the real capabilities that you have. Maybe you don't have all the tools, but you might have some, and there might be a moment where it's like, Hey, I did a good job there. Be good to yourself. Recognize the good that you do. And when we shift from shame to love, we actually start to change the experience.

[00:08:53] And that experiential change is profound. Not only do we become more resilient in the face of challenges, but our growth becomes more sustainable. We're no longer chasing a fleeting sense of worthiness with each and every single achievement that comes along. Instead, we're building a foundation of self respect. I like this guy. I like this person that I'm being, and I, you know, I recognize he's not great all the time, but for the most part, he does his best, right? Think about it that way. And then the piece that comes along with that. That doesn't mean you don't see problems and resolve them. It means that you don't punch yourself in the face every time there is a problem and push yourself into a downward spiral.

[00:09:31] And this really can support you through all of your life's ups and downs.

[00:09:35] Once you're aware of these critical self thoughts, You can reframe them with compassion, which helps you shift your inner dialogue from one of criticism to one of support and understanding. Another way to do this is through journaling. I actually had a conversation with my friend here. He's a local guy and I just saw him walking out of Costco and he was like, I was like, Hey, how are you doing?

[00:09:54] What's going on in your life? He's like, you know, what saved me is journaling. Every time I was having a struggle, I started to write things down, which Interestingly, when he was writing these things down, he was starting to see the real problem, the actual issue and dealing with that directly rather than trying to avoid it, which is what he had been doing through things like pornography.

[00:10:14] Dedicate a little bit of time out of your day to write things down. I use an app called Day One. He used an app called Day One.

[00:10:21] That's why I picked it up. My friend, he was like, Hey, this is what saved me. This is what helped me actually get over the hump. And Appreciate yourself in those journal entries, write down your strengths, write down your achievements, no matter how small they are. this practical shift can help you focus on what is good in your life rather than on the perceived failures.

[00:10:41] They can help you recognize and move towards the values that you want to be creating in your life.

[00:10:46] And it's important to take time for the activities that nourish your body, that nourish your mind, that nourish your soul. I want you to understand that self care is really an act of love. This last weekend, I had a great opportunity. I spent a lot of time rappelling with some friends. And you can do whatever it is that you need to be doing, whether it's reading or taking walks, practicing yoga, if that's something that's interesting to you.

[00:11:07] I really enjoy getting into the outdoors, whatever it is, spending time with loved ones. These activities reinforce the idea that you deserve kindness and care. If you are not taking care of you, let me just put a really fine point on this. If you're not taking care of you, who will?

[00:11:22] If you have not been, you really need to start.

[00:11:24] And remember, it's okay to seek help. If you need help getting this down, if you need somebody looking at this from an outside perspective, helping you walk through, sign up for a free consult. Go to and I would love to meet with you.

[00:11:39] Remember, sharing your struggles Lightens the load and it helps remind you that you're not alone. Whether it's someone that you trust and who has been through this process, who has been successful, or whether it's a coach who can help you actually start to see yourself more clearly.

[00:11:54] This is important stuff to talk about because it helps us work out the details. Taking it out of our brain and putting it into an objective space that we can address the realities that we're seeing. And just remember, embracing self love is the basis for personal growth. It's a profound shift that can lead to sustainable change and inner peace.

[00:12:14] It's a journey that requires patience and practice and persistence. And remember, every step taken out of love for yourself is a step towards a fuller, more authentic life, a more rich, full and meaningful life. I would encourage you to just take some time, reflect on these ideas, see how you can put them into your life.

[00:12:33] And then if you have questions about them, or if you know, there's something that you're doing that's really working for you, share it with me. I would love to see it. Send me an email. Zach at zachspafford. com. I'd love to talk to you guys about these things because these are, to me, these are the best parts of what I do is helping people see themselves more clearly, love themselves more profoundly, and enjoy their lives more fully than they ever have before.

[00:12:56] All right, my friends, I hope this is helpful. I will talk to you guys next week.


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