So many people who are struggling with unwanted porn use believe that if they allowed themselves to feel acceptance of where they are right now, they would immediately start justifying their actions and therefore won’t try to change. But what I have found is that the opposite is true.
Join me on this episode to discover what radical acceptance means, what it looks like in practice, the energy radical acceptance will bring to the actions you take, and how to practice feeling this emotion on purpose using the Emotion Doc.
You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 96, Emotion Doc: Radical Acceptance
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, you guys, welcome to the podcast this week. Super excited to have you. I feel like these last few weeks have been full of a lot of speaking and being part of podcasts. I’ve spoken to a number of groups, church groups, been on a few podcasts. One of those was a summit called Porn-Resilient: The Pilgrimage From Unwanted Porn Use to Fearless Sexuality.
And I’ve been, by the time this episode will go out I'll have shared about it a little bit in emails and on my Instagram. And you have access to all of that information for free. It's a free summit with a lot of experts helping you overcome porn and feel fearless in your sexuality. I love it. So it's fun, and now here I am getting to do my favorite thing, which is my podcast.
What I want to chat about today is another emotion doc with the emotion of radical acceptance. I want to talk about what that means, what that looks like, and give you some sentences, some ideas to help you start feeling this in your life and making this an emotion that you feel on purpose. I feel like that's an episode I should do, emotion on purpose. I’m going to have to write that idea down.
So radical acceptance, let's talk about this. A lot of people think that if they allow themselves to feel acceptance, that they're going to immediately jump to justifying and justifying action. Or if they allow themselves to feel acceptance, they're not going to try to change because if you accept it, why would you change, right?
What I have found is that this is not true, and it's actually the opposite. So people who practice radical acceptance are not stuck, do not keep justifying bad actions. They don't keep from changing. But they actually are able to change more, and I'm going to explain why here.
When you allow yourself to feel acceptance, you stop trying to change from rushed and hurried energy and from pressure. And that's a really good thing because rushed, and hurried, and pressure, those just lead to burnout. They lead to burnout, they lead to all or nothing thinking, right? I've got to do those all right, and if I don't I’m just going to stop and try again later. Instead of continual growth, they lead to shame spirals.
It really leads to being stuck and not being able to change, that rushed, hurried, pressure energy. And I want you to think about this for yourself, when you feel pressure, how do you show up? When you feel rushed and hurried and this like deep pressure of I've got to change or else X, Y, or Z, or else my life's going to be ruined, or else I'm never going to live up to my potential.
Random tangent, but I really have started to hate that phrase, live up to your potential. I don't know what it is about it, it just feels icky to me lately. I don’t know, it's probably because I really started to reject this, “I always have to be striving to be better and I've got to work towards perfection.” That has not done me any good in my life, it really hasn't.
My life has gotten so much better, I've accomplished so much more, I've been a lot more peaceful. I’ve felt a lot closer to Spirit and to God when I stopped constantly trying to be better. And so that live up to your potential, it just sounds like a lot of pressure and rushness, at least that's what I associate it with.
So it's Carl Rogers who says the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. Oh, so good. I'm going to read that again and as I read it just like feel into it, breathe into it, like soak in the deliciousness of this wisdom, okay? The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
And this is radical acceptance. Let's get into some examples so I can make my argument here a little bit more clear. So first, what you've heard me talk about before on the podcast is that your actions come from emotion. And the way that you are able to take action in your life, to sustain action in your life, to take action is dependent on what your emotion is that is driving that action.
So sometimes we try to change our actions without changing our emotions, and that's when we get stuck in willpower and that's when we're not really able to change. So whatever emotion you're feeling, that is the fuel that's driving your action. So it's super important that you're feeling emotion that will drive helpful action.
Pressure, stress, worry, hurriedness, rushness is going to lead to a lot of quick action really quickly, and then burnout. It's not going to lead to sustained action, and it's likely going to lead to shame as well.
So I read this article, and it mentioned these three different emotions to take action from. The first is rejection, the second is passive acceptance, and the third is radical acceptance.
Rejection is self-deprecation, rejecting where you're at, hating where you're at, hating yourself for where you're at. Passive acceptance is like this is where I'm at and that's just who I am, and I can't change and I'm just going to let whatever happen happen. And there's no effort, right? That's not what we want to shoot for either. This is kind of that, you know, shame versus justification pendulum that we want to avoid.
And then the third one that they mentioned in this article is radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is accepting yourself where you're at and then making decisions, not from a place of rejecting yourself, but of seeing where you're at and seeing where you want to go. And not from a place of like, if I get where I want to go, I'm going to be so much better and happier. See how that's still rejection? It's like rejecting where you're at. It's accepting, loving yourself where you're at, and taking action to get where you want to go.
So they gave a great example of Tetris. And what this might look like in Tetris is you're dealt you're Tetris pieces and you have a piece that's coming down. And rejection looks like being pissed at that piece. Why do I always get the crappy pieces? I'm mad at this piece. I'm mad that I got this piece. Ah, this sucks. The game stops being fun. You give up, right? Rejection, you give up.
Passive acceptance looks like you get this piece and you're like, oh, well, here's the piece I have. And you just let it fall right down the middle without trying to move it, without trying to put it where is the best spot. You just let it fall right down the middle. That's not great strategy either. That's not going to help you get very far in the game.
And then radical acceptance is, oh, I got this piece. Okay, neutral. This is where it's at, I'm accepting this. And let's move it over here to the left, or let's move it to the right, or let's put it in this spot. Okay?
A practical example, I'm actually going to read it from this article, I pulled it up and found it. It's from medium.com. It's called the paradox of life, how to both accept yourself and change yourself. It's a great article that I Googled, let's see, what did I Google? I Googled like stories on accepting yourself and changing because I was trying to think of some.
I was having a hard time thinking of an example. So I googled it. And I found these really great ones that I think I'm just going to read right here. So another practical example is this one. So it says average Joe is constantly trying to change himself and the world. He hates that he is not as confident as the people he sees on television.
His mind is always chattering, “If you were confident you could have asked that girl out or aced that job interview.” Each time he isn't able to be as outwardly confident as he wants to, he berates himself. So that's an example of this rejection.
And when I read this, I just resonate with it and my heart just like goes out to this fake person in this article because I used to be there. And I think many of my clients and many of you who are listening we're there we're trying to change from a place of rejection. We listen to our minds. We listen to the chattering, deprecating thoughts in our minds and we berate ourselves, okay?
That's rejection. That's not going to lead to change, it's not. It’s just going to lead to being stuck and then like constantly feeling frustrated with yourself and then exploding and then shame and then apathy. That shame apathy trap if you remember me talking about that.
Okay, the second is Accepting Albert is what they call it. Accepting Albert is apathetic, he is static. Deep down, he knows deep down a little boost in confidence could help him, but he never acknowledges the reality. He is afraid of trying because he's afraid he will fail. This leads him to be passive and accepting.
So that's passive acceptance that's different than radical acceptance. Passive acceptance is apathy. It's not even trying. It's afraid of failure, afraid of not doing what you think you're going to do. It's justification, that's the whole other side, right? There's rejection and then there's passive acceptance. And then what we want to shoot for here is radical acceptance.
This example says Rachel is aware. Radically Acceptance Rachel, that’s what they call her, is aware that she is not the most confident person in the world. She doesn't criticize herself, she realizes that her lack of self-confidence is due to a long string of events influenced by her previous experiences and upbringing.
She realizes that she can't change these previous events at this point in her life unless she builds a time machine. Because she is accepting of the cards that she has been dealt, she is, one, able to see reality clearly. And two, move forward with the goal of improving her confidence in the future, something that she does have control over.
Yeah, so radical acceptance, seeing and accepting and loving yourself. Loving yourself exactly where you're at. Recognizing that, yeah, you've been dealt with things, you haven't maybe handled things the best in the past, you haven't had the tools to handle things in the past. You're a human having a human experience, which guess what, includes a lot of mistakes.
We have that, we're accepting that. It's okay, we can practice love and acceptance and here's where we want to go. So we're going to take a breath and we're going to move in that direction. And we're not doing it from a place of I’m not good enough. We're not doing it from a place of I need to do this or else I'm never going to live up to my potential, right? We're doing this from a place of I'm enough as I am and we're moving forward.
A story specifically about pornography related to this, I might have shared this on the podcast before. So forgive me if you've heard this before, but even if you have I think it's a great reminder. I was once listening to a podcast episode, it was a sex therapist who was answering questions, anonymous questions.
And one of the questions that came in said something like my husband has struggled with pornography for most of our marriage and it's been a real issue for him. And his brother recently admitted that he's been struggling with porn, and it was a really big deal for his family. His family kind of cut him off and called him all sorts of mean things and really rejected him. And that's brought in a lot of fear for my husband because he's been struggling with the exact same thing and he's very ashamed and very afraid.
And so that's what was going on. And he's tried to change for years and years and years and years and hasn't been able to and it's been really difficult on him. And then one day he told me, he was just going to go pray. He was just going to go pray, and pray, and pray, and pray and see what God has to tell him about quitting porn. And so he went out and he prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed.
And when he came home, hours later, he said to me, “Hey, honey, God told me that it's okay that I'm struggling with porn, and I don't need to feel bad about it. And it's okay that I'm struggling. This is okay. It's okay.” And then he walked away. And she's like, “I don't think God told you that. What?” What God are you talking to, was kind of her response to that, like that sounds really weird.
But then she went on to say, she said but then he was able to quit, and I've never seen, he's never done this well in our entire marriage. He is doing so much better. He is not acting out as often as he was, he's making so much progress. I don't understand it, but it seems like that belief, like it's okay, it's okay that he's struggling and him just accepting it and being okay with it is what led to this change in him.
And so that's what she was asking this sex therapist, she said, “What do you think about this? Like, is that really true?” And the therapist, she said, I don't remember her exact response, but it was something like, you know what? I don't know what God told your husband. And I don't know necessarily, but what I do know is that this is giving great results. And he's seeing great results from this, and so why wouldn't it be good? Why wouldn't it be a good belief and a good thing for him?
And in my mind when I hear this story I just think of this phrase, this emotion, radical acceptance. When we can drop the pressure, drop the shame, radically accept ourselves as we are, that's when we actually, like instead of putting so much energy towards shame and so much energy towards rejection, we can have that energy back and use that energy to actually make changes.
And this is just one part that I've been talking about. There’s a whole other section that maybe we'll talk about in another episode, but I've mentioned before, it is also accepting emotion. So not just radically accepting ourselves where we're at, but radically accepting the emotions that we're feeling.
Instead of, oh crap, I'm feeling stressed, go away stress, I do not want to feel stressed. Just radically accepting it. I don't have to change it. I don't have to make it go away. I'm feeling stressed and I'm just accepting that that's what's going on today. That changes everything because then you stop buffering, okay?
So this radical acceptance is a beautiful emotion, a very life changing emotion, a very transformative emotion. And so let's practice cultivating it. Remember, how we cultivate emotion is by thinking intentionally, thinking on purpose. Changing our thoughts, changing our beliefs, telling ourselves new things, and we practice over and over and over and over again. And then it becomes a lot more natural to feel this emotion.
So these emotions are going to come from thoughts that you're telling yourself. So in order to start cultivating this emotion, all you have to do is start changing what you're thinking. Here are some thoughts that you can write down, that you can put into your emotion doc. Anyways, I talked about this in the last episode if you want to hear me talk about emotion docs.
The basic idea is it's just a document with a bunch of sentences that can help you cultivate an emotion that you want to feel. And then you can go back and re-look at it and read them again. And it's kind of like a belief plan, if you've heard me talk about belief plan, but with a specific emotion.
So here are some sentences that can help you cultivate this emotion. I accept myself for how I'm feeling. It's okay to feel this way. It’s okay to feel this stress. It's okay to feel anxious. It's okay to feel restless. It's okay to feel sad. Whatever it is, it's okay to feel this way. I can always try again. I love and accept myself with my imperfections. It's okay that I'm struggling. I change step by step and day by day, every single day. Every single day I get better. Even the days where I don't see obvious progress.
My humanity is the point. Perfection is not the point of living, humanity is. Beauty comes in humanity, which is accepting myself and my flaws, and everything about me that makes me a human having an emotional, a hard, and a beautiful, wonderful experience. My circumstances and actions do not create peace, my thoughts create peace. I can have peace in any circumstance, even when I slip up.
I am struggling with this habit, and that's okay. Everything is working in my favor for me to quit. My job is to trust the process and accept where I'm at. I did enough today. I have no timeline. I do not need to quit porn to feel better. And the better I feel, the quicker I will quit porn. I am enough.
Okay you guys, have a great rest of your week. If you want to come and work with me, I would love to see you in the program Overcome Pornography For Good. We really dive into and do individual work around whatever it is that's holding you back.
If you're feeling a little stuck, it's a great place for you to be and we are excited to work with you. Our promise is that we work with you until you quit. And so you have lifetime access to the program and to the weekly live coaching calls and to the Ask a Coach board. All right you guys, have a great week, bye bye.
I want to invite you to come and listen to my free class, How To Overcome Pornography For Good Without Using Willpower. We talk about how to stop giving into urges without pure willpower or relying on phone filters so that you can actually stop wanting pornography.
We talk about how to stop giving up after a few weeks or months. And spoiler alert, the answer isn't have more willpower. And then lastly, we talk about how to make a life without porn easily sustainable and permanent.
If you're trying to quit porn, this class is a game changer. So you can go and sign up at Sarabrewer.com/masterclass and it is totally free.