Episode 244 -Overcoming Resistance to Change: Strategies for Breaking Free from Pornography

May 06, 2024


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Episode 244

[00:00:00] Zach Spafford: Hey everybody, welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford. Today I want to talk about the paradox that most of us face, the idea that we are feeling stuck between our current reality and where we want to be and imagine, just standing there at the pool's edge.

[00:00:14] You're thinking about jumping in, but you're finding yourself immobilized. That's a beautiful picture, right? But you're there and you want to get in, but you just can't take that next leap. This episode is for anybody who's trapped in a cycle of wanting to change, and yet they're encountering this resistance and the setbacks that most of us encounter when we try to make actual change in our lives.

[00:00:37] Especially relevant for you all is the scenario that often plays out in our struggles with pornography. So let's explore why we resist change and how we can synchronize our desires with our actions and truly move forward.

[00:00:50] So think about this. Have you ever found yourself dreaming of a different job, a healthier lifestyle, perhaps a more fulfilling relationship, and yet day after day you find yourself stuck in the same patterns? This feeling, commonly referred to as being stuck, can affect all kinds of aspects of our lives, leaving us frustrated, powerless, and Just bleh, right?

[00:01:11] And at its core, this stagnation stems from a complex web of psychological factors. One primary factor is this fear of the unknown. Change introduces uncertainty, and our brains are wired to think about and prefer uncertainty. What we know, how we know to behave, the things that have worked in the past.

[00:01:29] And even if they're less than ideal, even if they have not really helped us live up to an ideal that we think we want in our life, like I want to be porn free. We still tend to prefer things that help us feel good in the moment and that we know how they work. Think about that. Our brains are wired to turn to pornography, because it's familiar to us even when the outcome isn't what we truly want, instead of dealing with and sitting in the unknown. Another one is our desire for comfort. We like to be comfortable and its familiarity helps keep us tethered to our current state, creating a safety net that's hard to leave behind. Additionally, we experience cognitive dissonance, which is psychological discomfort that arises when our actions don't align with our desires.

[00:02:12] This dissonance is at the heart of the paradox of wanting change without being willing to take the necessary steps to facilitate it.

[00:02:18] And I say all of that because understanding this psychological backdrop is crucial for addressing the root causes of our inertia.

[00:02:24] Zach Spafford: Think about my client, Alex. He acknowledges pornography's negative toll on his relationships, on his self esteem, on his productivity even. And each morning, Alex Commits to staying away from porn and recognizing the benefits such as enhanced mental health and deeper connections. Yet he is consistently faced with daily stressors like work and loneliness and boredom, all the things that everybody in the world deals with and the old habits that help him deal with those things, like choosing pornography, have consistently relieved those issues.

[00:02:59] Helping him move forward in his life. This cycle induces for him, like it does with so many people, a profound cognitive dissonance. The desire to quit, fueled by aspirations of being the person that others believe he is, and who he wants to be himself, those conflict with the reflex to view pornography and use pornography to manage his discomfort. This internal battle, which is a clash between conscious intent and subconscious resistance.

[00:03:26] It's not about willpower. It's rooted in the brain's preference for the known over the uncertain and the painful. And this becomes exacerbated by the shame and the guilt that follow each lapse paradoxically, driving Alex back into the same behaviors that have helped him escape in the past.

[00:03:43] Now I want you to think about Linda, who on occasion has stumbled upon her husband's browsing history and while her husband Jake commits to change.

[00:03:51] Linda now deals with this tornado of emotions, betrayal, inadequacy, confusion, and she is just sitting there kind of trying to figure all of this out while all she really wants is trust and intimacy that they once shared before she found out. And all she can do is brace for the hurt that she thinks is going to come, because she doesn't think that Jake can solve this.

[00:04:15] And then that creates this emotional standoff that then stifles the genuine healing and communication that she wants. This scenario highlights that cognitive dissonance for Linda and her experiences as she wants to support Jake towards change while she's wrestling with all of her own hurt and her fear of being vulnerable again.

[00:04:34] Another common challenge with feeling stuck is navigating emotional turmoil. Our client Sarah feels increasingly isolated as she tries to reconcile her love for her partner with her pain over his pornography use. She desires a deeper connection, she wants to understand him, she wants to be understood, but she's finding herself pulling away to protect her heart.

[00:04:54] Which is a clear example of desiring change, yet subconsciously resisting the steps that might facilitate the healing that she could help bring in this situation. Addressing these challenges is not merely about stopping a behavior.

[00:05:05] Zach Spafford: So many of the clients that come to us today, I can't tell you, I cannot tell you how many of the clients who come to us, they're like, listen, I just want to stop this one thing. If I can stop this one thing, then I'll be A OK and everything will be hunky dory in my life.

[00:05:19] Addressing the underlying structural challenges within your relationships is not merely about stopping pornography or sex.

[00:05:25] It is about confronting the underlying issues that prompt viewing pornography and create this disconnect between individuals and who they want to be and their spouses and what they want in their lives. And it's important to recognize that solving for that underlying issue means recognizing discomfort, identifying the steps that are taking you away

[00:05:47] from your ideal result and then gradually adopting and learning healthier ways of dealing with stress and those negative emotions that are going to come in your life, you're never gonna be able to get rid of them.

[00:05:58] This is a journey of realigning actions with desires and transitioning from dissonance to congruence, or the way I like to say it is integrity. I want to integrate all of the parts of my life in a way that I'm proud of and I'm capable of sustaining over a long period of time. Subconscious resistance acts as an invisible barrier that directs us away from discomfort and back to those familiar comfortable, easier routines.

[00:06:24] And this resistance takes a lot of different forms, including procrastination, perfectionism. How many of you are like, it's got to be absolutely perfect, otherwise we're starting back at square one.

[00:06:34] In addition to all of that, there's the avoidance of discomfort and all of this favors immediate comfort, immediate pleasure, and not dealing with pain, over long term benefits.

[00:06:45] For instance, facing an urge to view pornography or merely feeling bored, Might lead you to mindlessly browse the internet.

[00:06:51] In the case of setbacks, perfectionism derails us almost entirely. It's like, oh my gosh, minor deviation from our path turns us into someone who can't even get back on the wagon, much less solve for why they fell off the wagon in the first place.

[00:07:06] And oftentimes creates this reversal of direction. I can't tell you how many people come to me and they're saying, You know, I just gave up so I don't care and I'm not going to, I'm not going to try and solve this anymore because I know anytime I have a setback, I'm just going to feel unsuccessful and I'm sick of feeling unsuccessful and compounding the hurt.

[00:07:25] It's almost like we missed a turn while we're driving and instead of listening to your GPS to correct it and go to the, you know, take the next right turn, we just decided, Hey, I'm going to drive aimlessly.

[00:07:34] Zach Spafford: I'm not even going to, it doesn't matter where I go.

[00:07:36] Whereas if we had just listened to the GPS after the wrong turn, we ensure a quicker arrival at the destination rather than ignoring it for an extended period.

[00:07:43] Let's not let the quest for perfection deactivate our navigational aids. Acknowledging these patterns is crucial for breaking free from resistance and realigning our desires with our actions. So how do we start aligning our subconscious Resistances with our conscious desires. The process has to begin with small achievable changes, celebrating those minor successes, builds momentum, propels us forward, and then creates psychological flexibility and psychological flexibility, which is just the capacity to adjust our thoughts and actions according to our values in the face of difficulty, is an essential cornerstone of being able to grow and progress and become the person that we want to be. Being present, being open, being committed to life enriching actions is essential.

[00:08:28] To do this, one of the key principles that Darcy and I teach is mindfulness, mindfulness and acceptance.

[00:08:33] We utilize ACT, acceptance and commitment training, also known as acceptance and commitment therapy. These are the key concepts that we use within our structure, not simply because they worked for us or because we think they might work, but because there is data that shows that utilizing an ACT based system, there's real double blind study and trial data that shows that utilizing an act based system is currently the most effective system on the planet. You're talking about 86 percent of people who utilize the system.

[00:09:02] They are successful within three to six months.

[00:09:04] One of the reasons why mindfulness and acceptance are helpful is that they enable us to observe our resistance without judgment and then accept our current state and the inherent discomfort in the change that we're trying to affect.

[00:09:18] Not as resignation, but as an acknowledgement of our reality, and then choosing to move towards our values, despite how we feel, despite what our day looks like, despite how we might have worked in the past.

[00:09:30] And really what I want you to understand is that these strategies are practical.

[00:09:33] They're not just theoretical and they've aided so many of the people that we've worked with to thrive beyond pornography and other challenges. By employing these principles, you can overcome pornography for good. You can dismantle the resistance barriers that you have by understanding how your mind is working and then lay the groundwork for the meaningful change that you need in your lives.

[00:09:52] One of the things that I've done recently to help facilitate this for almost anybody at any level, starting from anywhere, is I've condensed down everything that I know about quitting porn, my experience over the last five years with my clients, into a very simple, very easy to use, seven video system that can allow you to start to create the awareness you need and begin to step away from porn by

[00:10:17] maximizing your mindfulness and utilizing acceptance and commitment training systems that I have learned.

[00:10:23] And I'm going to offer you access to this for lifetime for just 97. If you go to, and I'm going to put a link in the show notes, get to thrive.

[00:10:35] com slash succeed. Start learning how to do this and put it into your day to day repertoire. This is the most effective tool that I have found

[00:10:43] to

[00:10:43] Understand what your brain is doing, why it's doing what it's doing, and then start to give you the space to move towards your values, seek and put into play the change that you actually want. It's an absolutely amazing, very condensed version of everything that you need to put porn behind you.

[00:10:59] But more than anything, if you want change, and if change is something that has eluded you for a long time, what I want you to recognize is that it may be time to try something completely different. It may be time to observe what your brain is doing and why it's doing it. And as you start to document that information, you're going to start to see some patterns that you'll then be able to begin to adjust through mindfulness, through understanding why your brain is doing, what it's doing, and then last thing I want you to give yourself the grace, the kindness, the love to recognize that you're good

[00:11:32] and you don't have to be perfect, but you can get better. You can become the person that you expect yourself to be by looking at the changes that you want to make, and then learning about the patterns that your brain is executing that are keeping you from making those changes. All right, my friends,

[00:11:47] love you guys. And I'll talk to you next week.


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