Episode 23: Curiosity Vs Judgment

Uncategorized Jun 20, 2021


Every time you slip up and do something you told yourself you weren’t going to do, instead of just ignoring it and trying again, I always encourage my clients to go back, look at the situation, and get curious about what happened and answer some questions about it.

Curiosity is such a big part of breaking a habit like viewing pornography. But something that comes up with so many of my clients when they’re in the process of getting curious is they find themselves being very judgmental towards themselves, especially after slipping up and viewing porn after a period of abstinence. And this doesn’t help anyone.

Join me on the podcast to discover how to be more curious in your journey of overcoming pornography, and less judgmental. I’m sharing why curiosity will always move you through any process quicker than judgment, and what you can do to reframe those occasions when you do decide to view pornography despite trying to quit.

I’m running a live commitment workshop. So, if you’ve been struggling with the commitment required to overcome pornography, I invite you to come join us. It takes place on June 23, 2021 at 12pm MDT/2pm EDT and only costs $9 and you get to ask me any questions that you want. And there will even be a replay available if you can’t make it live. 

I have amazing news. If you want to take the work I’m sharing on the podcast deeper, I’m running a masterclass
called How to Quit Viewing Pornography Even if You’ve Tried in the Past is 100% free! All you have to do is sign up here and I will see you there. 

What You'll Learn from this Episode:   

  • How shame and judgment make it impossible to change a habit.
  • Why ignoring the times you slip up and view porn is only hindering your progress.
  • The importance of being vulnerable throughout the process of quitting pornography.
  • How to start reframing the times you have slipped up so you can start seeing them more objectively.
  • What you can do to work on your judgment so you can start to learn from those occasions you decide to view porn.


Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

 You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 23, Curiosity Vs Judgment.

Welcome to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast, the show that will teach you how to stop viewing pornography and never go back to it. If you want to learn how to train your brain out of a pornography habit, completely shame-free, then this is the show for you. I’m your host Sara Brewer, a certified life and faith-based coach.

Hey everyone. Welcome to the podcast episode this week. I'm really excited to talk to you today about curiosity versus judgment. I'm just recognizing that many of my titles, they have the versus in there. So something versus something else. Anyways, that’s making me laugh a little bit, but I like it. Obviously, I like that format.

So today curiosity, being curious with yourself, versus judgment, being judgmental with yourself. That’s what we’re going to dive into today. This is something that I really want to talk about, specifically because it’s been coming up a lot with my clients, is being very judgmental towards themselves after a slip up.

So a little bit of background. With my program, if you’ve listened to the episode What to Do When You Slip Up, you know that this is something that I teach. That every time that you slip up, you view porn when you weren’t planning on viewing porn, you do something that you told yourself you weren’t going to do. Every time you do that, instead of just ignoring it and trying again next time, I always encourage my clients to go back and to look at it and to ask themselves, “What happened? What was I thinking?”

I have a whole list of questions that they go through, and they answer to really dive into that experience and see what was going on so that next time we know exactly what to do differently and what to think differently and how to show up differently so that we can make progress towards not doing it again, right? My approach is very growth mindset. We’re growing and we’re learning. We can't just do this cold turkey.

A lot of you are saying, “Op, I slipped up. I looked at porn. That’s okay. Next time I’ll be better.” When you do that, you're really missing a great opportunity to go back and to get a lot of data and a lot of information to see what we can do differently next time so that it doesn’t just keep happening over and over and over again. Is it Einstein who said, yeah, here it is. He said, “Insanity is just doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

Many of us do this in regard to pornography where we’re like, “Oh man. I slipped up. I’ll do better next time.” Without going back and looking at it and trying to do something different. Then you just do the same thing over and over and over again. That’s why many of us have a hard time quitting porn because we are just doing the same things. Instead, I want us to go back and learn and look from them.

So the thing is when my clients go through this process and they slip up, a lot of the times they don’t want to. They don’t want to go back. They don’t want to go look at what happened. They don’t want to answer all of the questions. The reason for that is that they are judging themselves and feeling a lot of shame and judgment around this slip up.

I had a client specifically say to me, “This is so vulnerable. When I tell you about these slip ups and I tell you the answers to these questions, it’s like I'm telling you a piece of my journal.” I said to him if you're thinking about it this way. Like this is an intimate part of me. This is a piece of my journal. It’s going to be very hard to learn from these. Instead, I want you to try to see this as data. Instead of this is a piece of my journal, this is data. I'm sharing data with you. Data from my brain.

Do you see how just reframing it in that way can make such a big difference and help us see a lot more objectively instead of with all the brain drama? Like, “Why did I do that? What's wrong with me? Why’d I do that?”

So I also always tell my clients. At the beginning of our coaching sessions, I tell them, hey, when we’re coaching together, I want you to imagine that we’re just hanging out sitting on a couch together. We’re watching this movie screen. On this screen, we’re watching a new species of animal. We’re just sitting here, and we’re fascinated, and we’re so interested in what’s going on. We’re so interested in what’s going on. We’re so interested in what this animal is doing. We’re so interested in what this animal is doing. We’re so interested in what this animal is thinking.

We’re not sitting here on the couch saying, “That was so dumb. Why did it do that?” We’re not sitting here judging it. We’re being very curious and fascinated. So when we’re coaching and when I'm talking to you and when we’re going through this process, I'm not judging you. I'm very fascinated in what your brain is doing, what your brain is thinking, and what your brain is telling you.  When we’re coming from that place, we can make so much more progress than if we’re just sitting here judging. “Why did I do that? Why did I do that? Why did I do that?”

I hear this, this judgment comes up so often. I hear it all the time. In almost every single master class that I do, I have someone who comes and says that they feel so much shame and judgment after slipping up that they don’t ask for help. That they don’t get help that they need.

I have a lot of experience with clients who feel uncomfortable talking to me about these slip ups, which I totally get, right? Like of course you feel uncomfortable about it. The whole messaging up until now has been this is shameful. This is embarrassing. This is gross. What’s wrong with you? So it takes a little bit of time to get out of that. That’s not necessarily a problem at all, them feeling uncomfortable about it.

The reason that they feel so uncomfortable about their slipups and working through them is because they're judging themselves instead of being curious with themselves. Instead of, “That was dumb. Why did I do that? I know better. Wow, that’s so fascinating. Wow, that’s so interesting.” Again, let’s look at your slip ups as data instead of looking at your slip ups as more evidence that you're doing it wrong. Okay?

How do you treat data? When you get a bunch of data that comes in, maybe for your job or maybe for a paper that you're writing or whatever it is. If you have a bunch of data, you look at it very objectively drama free. There's not all the drama. Why did they do it that way? They shouldn’t have done this. Why did this person say yes to this question? No, it’s just okay this is the data. Now, what are we going to do with that data?

In order to do this, in order to be curious and to see your slip ups as data, you have to stop attaching your past to your identity. All right? Really listen to me here. You have to stop attaching your past to your identity, and you have to stop attaching your mistakes to your identity.

What would that be like for you if you didn’t make your mistakes mean anything about you, period? What if your mistakes was just something objective that happened? Then there's you who is a completely worthy spirit, a pure worthy self, who has mistakes, but those mistakes do not mean anything about you. Imagine if there were mistakes and then there was you, and they were completely different.

Remember, you get to think about your mistakes any way that you want to. Attaching your mistakes to your identity is going to be very, very harmful, and it’s going to be a hard way to learn how to quit pornography, right?

This also requires a willingness to be wrong and a willingness to sometimes do it wrong. This is such a different mindset shift than so many of the ways that people talk about quitting porn. You know like, “Okay with being wrong here and doing it wrong. Like that’s not okay because porn is such a terrible thing.”

But what I want to offer to you is that to really quit for good, you have to be willing to slip up sometimes and then be willing to go back and look at them. Then be willing to learn from them and to get data from them, and to make the changes that you need to so that you don’t keep doing it in the future.

This is just how we work as humans. This is how we work as humans in every single area. This is how we get better at our jobs. This is how we get better at better skills. This is how we get better at different skills. This is how we get better at learning an instrument or learning how to snowboard. This is how we get better at losing weight. This is how we get better at anything.

This is how humans work. They don’t do it perfectly. They learn. They do it better the next time. Then they do it better the next time, better the next time, better the next time. But we can't keep doing it better if we’re so busy judging ourselves that we refuse to even learn from it. Okay?

I read this quote on Instagram that I loved by Jess Connolly. I don’t really know who she is, but someone shared this quote. And I loved it so much that I wanted to read it in the episode this week. It says, “Sometimes I need the gentle reminder that I can't fail God because he never put me on a pedestal. Not once has he gotten our relationship confused and expected me to be the perfect one.”

Did you hear that? Not once has God gotten our relationship confused and expected me to be the perfect one. Not once has God put pressure on me to produce something worthy of his affection. God doesn’t expect us to produce something worthy of his affection. We just are worthy of his affection, right? Isn’t that the message of the gospel? So then why wouldn’t that be the message around pornography?

So judgment. You slip up. You have two options. You can judge yourself or you can be curious. You can slip up and you can judge yourself and think, “What's wrong with me? Why did I do that? I should have known better. I do know better. I should be past this by now. How many times have I done this? I shouldn’t have done it this time.” Judgment is attaching all of this personal meaning to the action.

Or you can be curious. “I wonder why that came up again. That is really interesting. I haven’t seen that happen yet. I wonder why I thought that. I wonder why this is still coming up.” Do you see the difference here? Curiosity will get you so much further than judgment ever will. Curiosity isn’t just being okay and saying, “This is fine, and I'm just going to learn to feel good about myself and never change.” No.

Curiosity is, “I wonder why that happened. That is so fascinating. That is interesting. Now, I wonder what I can do different next time. I wonder how I can make this easier for me. I wonder how I can handle this situation better. I wonder if what I'm thinking is true. I wonder if that thought that caused me to look at pornography is true.”

For example, a thought that comes up a lot that causes people to go view porn is, “I have no control over this. I have no control over this, and so let’s just get it out of the way.” When you go back, and you see that, and you recognize that as something that’s coming up instead of judging it. Being like, “That was so dumb, why did I think that?” You can say, “Hm, that’s really interesting. I wonder where that’s coming from? Hm, that’s really interesting. Do I believe that? Or do I want to practice believing that I have a lot more control than I think I do?”

Okay. Here are some things that we notice when we’re curious. We notice justifications and excuses. So thoughts like, “One more time. I'm just going to do it one more time.” Which we all know is a lie when you think that. “I deserve this.” Right? Instead of judging those excuses, get really curious. That’s so interesting. Why am I thinking that? Is it true?

We also notice emotions that we’re buffering from. So you go back, and you look and you're like, “Oh I was feeling really lonely that day. Or I was feeling really shameful that day. Or I was feeling really stressed that day or just bored.” Then instead of judging those emotions, we’ll all talk about that here in a minute. We don’t have to judge them. We can allow them to be there and heal them.

And that gives us a good blueprint of, “Okay. This is an emotion that I'm struggling with in my life. Now I'm actually going to go address that emotion instead of continuing to go and run away from it by using pornography, which just makes the emotion worse. You also notice fears. When you're curious and you go back and you look at these things, you notice fears that come up. Maybe fear of abandonment or fear of failure or fear of not being good enough.

Then, again, the next step after being curious and seeing what’s coming up is to offer compassion and to sit with those things, and to let them heal, all right? Especially those things that keep coming up. You might do this process over and over and over again. You'll notice patterns of things that keep coming up. That is a sign that those things need to be healed.

I want you to think of this like a wound that needs to be healed. This is so helpful to me. This is something that I learned from Thomas McConkie who is a mindfulness guru. He’s also a member of the LDS church, and he has some great courses. But he shared this idea of healing wounds in our energy centers. I'm not going to dive into energy centers here. But the main idea is things that keep coming up for us, fears that keep coming up for us, emotions that keep coming up for us, emotions that keep coming up for us, justifications, excuses are things that need to be healed.

So an example of this is when I was working through this fear of not being good enough and trying to be okay with making mistakes myself. I used to think of it as this is a defect, and there’s something wrong. I need to fix this thought. I know that I shouldn’t be thinking that I'm not good enough.

So when that came up and I would have to work on that again, I would get very angry. Like why is this coming up again? Why can't I be okay with messing up? Why am I always afraid that I'm not good enough? I would get really angry like I've been working on this forever. Why am I still struggling with this dumb thing?

That’s when I learned to look at this like a wound. Now think about it. If you had a wound, if your arm was gushing open, you wouldn’t look at it and be like, “This is so dumb. Why is this arm still broken? Why is this arm still gushing blood? It should be better by now.” No. You would go, and you would get it looked at. You would have a doctor come and look at it. The doctor would be curious and see what's going on. Then they’d bandage it. A wound needs time and it needs compassion. And it needs healing, and it needs bandages, and it needs patience, etcetera.

This is the same thing with you and your emotional wounds. You will find your emotional wounds. They will come up to the surface as you are curious. As you look back at your slip ups and you're curious with what happened. As you find those wounds, instead of judging the wounds and being angry at the wounds, offer them compassion. Give them time and give them healing and sit with them, right? That’s how we heal a wound. We don’t ignore it, right?

If I had a broken arm and I just ignored it and I tried not to think about it, it would just get worse and worse and worse. Instead, I want to look at it, and I want to take it to get bandaged up. I want to sit with it. I want to allow it to heal. That’s a lot of the work that you do with this inner work through coaching or therapy or whatever it is that you like to do. All right?

So those are my thoughts for you this week on curiosity versus judgment. Please come in, subscribe, and rate and review the podcast if you haven’t yet. I love to see those. They help me get my message out to other people. If this has been helpful to you, consider sharing it with someone that you know would benefit from it. Or consider sharing it on your social media profile. All right? All right. Thanks, you guys. We’ll talk to you next week. Bye, bye. 

If you’re ready to apply what you’re hearing in this podcast and finally overcome pornography for good, I’d love to be your coach. I’ve created a virtual program with the intent to give you everything that you need to quit. Once you join, you have lifetime access to the content and lifetime access to individual support through coaching calls and coaching boards. For more information check out sarabrewer.com/workwithme.

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