Artwork for podcast Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast)
Thinking about your story differently can help you overcome porn for good
Episode 472nd August 2020 • Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast) • Zach Spafford
00:00:00 00:16:54

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Learning to Thrive Beyond Pornography use was the greatest challenge of our life and marriage. It had rocked my self confidence, tainted all of the most important experiences of my life and become the most impossible challenge I had.

With this podcast or at you'll learn about the struggle, how to overcome pornography use, and where to find additional resources to begin to thrive beyond pornography with your spouse.

At some point I took a step away from all the 12 step meetings and councilors and started to figure out my own brain, to look at my issue as something that I had the answer to and I was going to figure it out. Here I share those lessons and give you the power to start your own journey free. Whether you struggle with unwanted pornography use or are the spouse or partner, whether you feel stuck or just don't know where to start, here I will teach you principles, tools and skills that you can use today to change how you think and, in the end, what you do.

You'll hear interviews with my spouse, with experts on human sexuality and with former and current pornography users on how you can overcome your own struggle with addictive behavior.

The Thrive Beyond Pornography podcast will bring new perspective to your struggle and keep you coming back to improve all aspects of your life. (formerly, The Self Mastery Podcast: Overcome Pornography Forever)


Episode 47


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.

Hey everybody, and welcome to another beautiful Mastery Monday here on the Self-Mastery Podcast. . If you guys cannot hear that rain, that's good for you. It is loud. It is coming down like cats and dogs here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But it's beautiful. I love the rain personally. So awesome for us. Alright, so this week I wanna talk to you about who you think you are, who you are, and who you want to be.

This week one of my clients was talking about his life and his choices and the choices that he had made and his story was the thing that he believed about his life was "I didn't have the courage to make a different choice." He was talking about his career choices. He comes from a family where what his parents want for him is extremely important.

His values make it so that deferring to them is part of his culture and his identity, and he also wants to be successful. It's part of the fabric of his community that he needs to be able to provide for his family, be a pillar in his community, and be able to give back. He actually chose to be a doctor.

He's a practicing physician, and every day he's questioning it. He's questioning his fellow doctors if this is what they really want to be doing, and he's wondering if he can last now before you judge him and say, well, he's a doctor. He has a great, he's, why should he complain? I want to take a moment to explore this thought that he has from the lens of these three simple ideas who we think we are.

Who we are and who we want to be. So let's start by going back to the story. He's telling himself, I didn't have the courage to make a different choice. This is the story of who he thinks he is. I. And the question that I often ask and I asked him at the time was, what does that thought mean? And for him, it meant that he had failed.

That he wasn't who he wanted to be, that he wasn't even who he chose to be in this version of events. And so many of us can really relate to this, he's the victim. He's a victim of circumstances. He is someone who was pushed in a direction he never wanted to go, but found himself there because of, forces beyond his control and really at the behest of others.

And he sees himself as someone with no capacity to decide for himself. And really he feels like he only has responsibility for what he didn't do, for where he went wrong. That's what he thinks he has responsibility for. And often when we look back at our lives, the story we tell ourselves is one of regret and disappointment, and I think that's what he's telling himself in this story as well.

We think about things we didn't do, things that we should have done or wish we had done, or things that we shouldn't have done. And oftentimes, I think we believe this perspective is objective. We think it's valid, and it's totally helpful to drive us to greater heights and better outcomes, and we think it's actually gonna make us better decision makers.

But I want you to take a look at how you feel when this is the story that you tell yourself you feel. I think, I wouldn't be surprised if every single one of us, if we told this story to ourselves, we would feel exactly the way my client felt. Disappointed. Most of us know what that feels like.

Even if this isn't the story that you tell yourself, for instance, yours might be, I wasn't as good a missionary as I could have been, or I should have overcome this problem sooner. Whatever the story is, ask yourself, is this version of my history helping me become the person that I want to be by creating the feelings that drive me to improve, focus and succeed?

I can tell you how it worked for this client. His disappointment brought him to second guess himself. He was avoiding his thoughts about his career. So he wasn't really even looking at his career in a, in an objective and a, proactive way so that he could create what he really wanted. He would tell himself that he stunk.

That those weren't his words, but that's essentially what it boiled down to. I'm not a good person, I'm not good enough. And he also treated others differently. He would second guess his friends and their choice of career. He was asking them, are you really happy? Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your career?

And he would also be abrupt with his patients, and he would be unfriendly and unengaged. This creates a world for him where not only did he not have the courage in the past, but he also doesn't have the courage to do what he wants now. This keeps him as a victim of his circumstances. It keeps him beholden to the past, and it keeps his perception of his family's wants and his perceived inability, forefront and doesn't allow him to become the person that he wants to be.

I can tell you I've had, I've been in this place myself in this exact place. At one point, when I was in my career, in my job career where I worked for a large company, I felt trapped. I felt incapable of moving forward. I had to be someone I hated because so many people depended on me to provide for them, and I was responsible, at least in my mind, for their happiness.

Then, At some point I just decided that I could figure it out and stop working for a big company and be an entrepreneur. That little shift in who I thought I was, brought me so much happiness. I could I can't tell you how much happier I was just by changing how I thought that I had to believe in who I was differently.

And so let's talk about this. For my client, that little shift was just beyond his ability to see himself. And so often the people I work with are people who believe that who they are is a fixed reality of things that they have failed to accomplish or are yet to accomplish. That will ne that will forever be out of their reach.

But I wanna scratch at that for a second. What if you chose to believe the very best version of your story? The one that a kind, but fair biographer would tell when they were writing at length the story of your life. Take for example, my client and I've met with him a few times, but I'm not by any means, best friends with him.

I don't know his whole life story, but the things that I. Do know the things that I know about him from things that he's told me, they're pretty extraordinary, and I want you to listen to this. He's the son of immigrants who started his own business at age 20. He built it into a thriving enterprise that now requires little or no intervention on his part.

He doesn't really even have to hardly supervise it 'cause it runs on its own as the son of immigrants and the best English speaker in his family. He took on the role of chief translator, immigration attorney, and the next great hope for his family legacy. He went to medical school. He's a medical resident and a real estate developer in his spare moments that he can take away to fuel his passion for business, he cares deeply for his wife.

He works to be the man who she can count on and is preparing his life so he can be the father that he wants to be for his future children. Now this is an interesting story, right? Listen to that story that this guy sounds amazing. You all wanna be his friends. I wanna be his friend. He really is a pretty awesome dude.

Now, is he doing something that isn't his passion to provide for all of this? Yes. Is it harder than he wants it to be? Totally. Here's where we often go wrong in our assessment of ourselves. We think that if we compound the discomfort that's required to be successful in our lives and in our families with harsh assessments of our past, we can avoid pain in the future through better decision making.

And that's exactly where we miss the mark. So let's take a look at this. Let's break this down first, assessing our past harshly makes us feel bad about what happened. We feel bad about who we think we are. Then feeling bad about what happened often makes us feel bad about what is happening. We feel bad about who we are now.

And then finally, feeling bad about what's happening now, rarely, if ever, creates the feelings required to improve the situation in order to feel how you want to feel. . Going forward and in the future, take a look at my client's thought I didn't have the courage to make a different choice, which created disappointment that drove all the second guessing, all the self-critical talk, all the projecting onto his friends like, do you really wanna do this?

And even all the unfriendliness with clients and with friends and with colleagues in that moment, he was feeling bad about his past and acted in a way that made him feel bad in the present. Then on top of that, because he was avoiding his current reality, because his current reality was tainted by his past, he kept from progressing to the life he wanted.

He didn't critically lay out a plan to move his life steadily in the direction he wanted to go. He never chose the courage that he would need to make hard choices about the life he wanted by sacrificing some of that comfort right now. But when presented with the alternate story, the one that I just told you about him, all of it, by the way, completely true.

He began to see himself differently. He began to see the greatness that was already there, that was already within him. It was just waiting to be acknowledged and let out. He began to see who he was. He began to see who he is now, which is a pretty awesome dude. It's just he doesn't see it that way in those moments of self-doubt when he thinks I didn't have the courage to make a different choice.

And oftentimes this is the hardest step, partly because we think that we have to atone for what we have done and who we are and who we were. And fortunately, I'm gonna just take a side step here for a second. That was already done for us by Jesus Christ. That's what the atonement is. It overcomes all of our failings for us.

That's done. You can forget it. In fact, if you aren't familiar with my, I have a, an article called Taquitos and Why Can't I Pray Away Pornography, it goes into depth in terms of what is the atonement and how does it work in your life, and what is your agency and how you need to, . Begin to take that back and make it a part of the way that you become the person that you want to be.

I'm gonna put a link to that in the show notes, and you can download a copy of that for yourself whenever you're ready. And if we can just remember that the atonement takes care of all of the negativity, all of the stuff that we didn't achieve in our past, all the stuff that we forgot or failed, or all of that.

We can just start to tell ourselves the story of how awesome we are without being arrogant about it. Don't get me wrong, it's not about I'm so amazing. I never made a mistake. That's not how it works. But if we can just remember that part, remember that the atonement took care of all of our mistakes, we can start to see who we are.

Which brings me to the last piece of perspective that I wanna bring to this thought that my client had, which was, so let's go back to his thought. His thought was, I didn't have the courage to make a different choice. . That keeps him from being the man he wants to be. We went through how that works just a second ago, but it's not because he can't make new decisions, it's because he thinks he doesn't have courage.

That's what he believes. He believes I don't have courage, and just some return missionaries think they should have done better, so now they avoid doing missionary work. He thinks he didn't have courage and no, and so now he doesn't . Choose to have courage. When we believe that we are less than or incapable, or that we didn't try our best at the time, we hold ourselves back from becoming the best version of ourself going forward.

Belief in yourself is an essential key to success. It is just as essential and just as key as being willing to, and able to feel uncomfortable. I've often said discomfort is the currency of success, which I learned from Brooke Castillo, one of my mentors. That is absolutely true. I never could have become a coach if I didn't believe in myself and wasn't willing to feel uncomfortable.

I, I might've told the story on the podcast of how my sister-in-law once said, you can't be a life coach. You don't have your life together enough. And what she meant by that was you have too many kids. Your house is too messy, your kids are too loud, your life is too chaotic, and you have no reason to believe that you can succeed.

And so many of us are either being told by others or being told by ourselves that we aren't good enough to succeed. And we're believing it now, whether it's in business or in overcoming a habit or in just the, the opportunity of learning a skill that we've always wanted to have. We hear these voices and we believe them, and I, I want to submit to you that they're all totally wrong.

Like my sister-in-law, she was wrong. This is what I do for a living now, and I love it, and I help so many people achieve what they need. and it has nothing to do with whether or not my kids are allowed. Sometimes that's a hindrance to making the podcast, but I usually do it in the evenings after they go to bed, and so it's really not the issue, right?

Being perfect is not what you're going for here. Being the person that you're already think you're supposed to be is not what you're going for. You're going for choosing to feel good and courageous and able and capable in the moment so that you can create the life that you want going forward. And here's what I want you to do.

I want, I wanna, first, I wanna submit to you that all those people are totally wrong. You are wrong if that's what you believe about yourself. And other people are wrong about you if that's what they believe about you. And here's what I want you to do. I want you to ask anyone who tells you that you can't, to prove to you what your future looks like.

Ask them to show you without looking at your past. Because the past is not a predictor of the future. Just ask any stockbroker. Ask those people what your future is because if they can tell you that you better ask them for the next big break in stocks, right? The truth is they can't no more than they can tell you how the stock market will behave or who will win the World Series if we even have one of those this year, or even what the weather will be tomorrow with absolute certainty.

Who you want to be is a wide open field that you get to choose to run through in whatever way fit. So how do I get this belief in myself? How do I make my future what I want it to be and not what I feel trapped into becoming? Well, I want to tell you the very first thing that you can do is start with the story of your past.

Become the hero. Tell about your origin in the light that Christ would tell it in the way that your kind yet truthful biographer would tell it. Recognize your faults without making them the part of the story where you stop becoming the person you want to be. Who would Spider-Man be if he stayed disappointed in himself for the death of his uncle?

Heroes are not perfect people. They're people who learn from the mistakes they make. Tell themselves and others the story of how they built and created and triumphed against the odds and see their future as one of possibility and also completely within their control. So take a few minutes today and look at the story you are telling yourself about who you think you are.

And ask Is this way of viewing my past, helping me create the future that I wanna live? And if you're having trouble seeing how you could view your story differently, Feel free to set up a free consult and we can look at it together. All right, you guys have an amazing week. 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@ That's

I'll put a link in the 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.