Pain now or later.
Almost every time I get a new client the first thing that they learn is that they have been putting off their pain.
Each of us has discomfort that we deal with on a regular basis.
Pain comes in lots of forms, some more painful in a moment than others. Some are physical pains like going to the dentist and others are emotional pain like loneliness.
The thing is, that when we avoid painful things in search of short term happiness and pleasure, we are usually setting ourselves up for long term pain that is worse and more damaging than the pain we were avoiding.
A perfect example of this happened to me at the start of this covid quarantine.
Darcy had noticed that one of my front teeth was looking funny, which it turns out was a cavity behind a filling that had come loose.
Immediately I thought, “oh, how much is this going to cost.” Being an entrepreneur I pay all my own dental bills.
You can see my dilemma, put it off, don’t deal with the cost of fixing the tooth now and keep my, what turned out to be $300, or pay for it now, get into the dentist even though there is this new order to stay home and they aren’t seeing anyone for hardly any reason.
There were a lot of good reasons to stay home, there were a few good reasons to go to the dentist.
Having worked in a dental office, I have seen first-hand what happens when someone neglects dental work.
Anything from needing heavy duty cleaning with a machine that basically jackhammers your teeth with sonic waves all the way up to pulling everything out because not a single tooth has enough integrity to stay in the mouth without the possibility of getting infected.
Had I left it for a couple of months until things opened up again there very well could have been the need to put a crown on it or worse, do a post replacement of the entire tooth.
Which would have cost a lot more money.
A lot of what we do in life is a trade off.
We work out knowing that a little pain now will help us be stronger in the long run.
We get shots knowing that the vaccines, steroids and even pain killers that hurt some going in, will help us avoid worse, even excruciating pain in the long run.
When it comes to pornography use and the struggle that you have been dealing with for years, ask yourself, am I willing to take a shot now in order to avoid an even more painful future. What’s the value of that to you?
What’s the cost of continued therapy sessions for both you and your spouse before finally resolving this issue? What’s the cost of all the time you’ve spend doing something that is tearing at the fabric of your self-confidence? What’s the cost of sleeping in your car because your spouse has asked you to leave? What’s the cost of the hurt you are putting into your relationship and the trust you are breaking because of pornography use? What’s the cost of a divorce? What’s the cost of living separate lives?
Just like dental work, working on our self is something that if you don’t get in as early as you can, the cavities in your capacities can fester, grow and get infected.
The emotional pain that you feel when you are frustrated, stressed, lonely or even just bored are all types of immediate pain that if we choose to ignore it, we are creating a long-term pain that will eventually become unignorable.
When I was deep in my pornography use, there was this huge gap between how I felt and how I wanted to feel.
I struggled so much to feel wanted and loved and worthy that I would have done anything to get those emotions in my life. But, like so many of us, I didn’t know how.
I thought that when I was lonely that no one wanted me. What I didn’t realize is that my thoughts were the cause of my loneliness.
I’ll never forget this at my Grandma Spafford’s 90th birthday party we were all gathered together at the cultural hall of her church building on 400 East and 100 South in St George, UT and I was standing there by her and asked, “Isn’t this amazing, all these people here to show you how much they love you.” There had to be a hundred or more people there, lots of family, but lots of friends as well.
I looked at her and she said to me, with tears in her eyes, “oh, I don’t think people like me.”
How tragic. That has stuck with me for the better part of 20 years. What I didn’t know then, but what I see so clearly now, is that her thoughts were the source of so much pain.
Just like mine were in those moments when I was struggling to succeed at quitting pornography.
The problem is, that without a coach, it is really hard to see how our thoughts are keeping us from dealing with our pain in the present and taking us off into the momentary pleasures of pornography use, overeating, and social media zone out.
Then, when we come back to our self, we still don’t feel wanted, loved and worthy. In fact, we probably feel less of each of those things and we feel worse for having done something that we might have said, “I’ll never do that again”.
The new video I’m working on for my clients is part of a concept I learned from another podcaster.
In it I teach the key processes I use to help people deal with their emotions as they come up.
Which is a skill that I think so many of us men have been conditioned to ignore because we have been taught that our feelings don’t matter.
We just need to suck it up and move on.
Be a man, we’ve been told
You just need to push through and get ‘r done.
Rub some dirt on it and get back out there.
All phrases we have heard in our lives telling us to set aside how we are feeling.
I’m not saying you have to lay on the floor and cry, though you can if that helps.
But I am saying being aware of your feelings and allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable is a skill that we don’t really cultivate in our culture.
Unfortunately, that is the very thing that handicaps us when we are working through our pornography use habits. We think we can just push it down and fight it off and keep it at bay.
I can tell you from personal, long standing experience, when we push away our feelings through buffering, we are creating a long-term effect that is more harmful to ourselves and others.
The old adage, no pain, no gain has a ring of truth at least in this arena because if you try not to feel your pain, you will never be able to grow past it and become the person you want to be.
If you want to learn more about this, I am holding a webinar on how to deal with your urges on June 17 at 8 PM. You can register at my website zachspafford.com by clicking the “free coaching call” link at the top right of the page.
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