This week, we’re digging into another crucial element of fixing the root of the pornography habit. Over-desire for porn is why it can feel like you’re watching it before you’ve even thought about it, and like it’s completely out of control, but I’ve got good news for you this week.
While over-desire can make you feel powerless, the good news is that you’ve actually trained your brain to want porn. So, this means you can begin learning how to train yourself not to want it.
Listen in this week as I show you the role over-desire plays in the habit, and why it can feel so automatic when your urges come up. I’m using the theory of Pavlov’s dogs to demonstrate how we’ve inadvertently trained our brains to want porn, and how to begin de-conditioning our brains to start moving forward differently.
I’m Sara Brewer and this is the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast, Fixing the Root of the Problem: Over-desire
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.
All right, here we go. This episode is all about over-desire, and it's fixing the root of your pornography problem, over-desire. In the last episode, we talked about fixing the root of escape. This constant need to escape your emotions and pornography as that escape. And how to handle that, what to do about that.
We're going to talk about over-desire today. So over-desire is the reason that you feel strong urges. It’s the reason that they might feel irresistible. Over-desire is the reason that you might have witching hours.
So maybe a lot of you want to look at pornography between the hours of 10 and 12. Or maybe some of you wake up in the middle of the night. Or maybe first thing in the morning. Or maybe in the afternoon.
It's different for everyone. It's because you've trained your brain to want it at that specific time. But over-desire is the reason for those witching hours.
Over-desire is the reason that it feels so addictive, and that it has addictive properties. And I use the word, I just want to mention this, I use the word addiction so, so, so sparingly.
I always tell you and my clients that I don't take anyone who's addicted. Because what I mean by addicted, how I define addiction, is that it keeps you from living a normal functioning life.
So if your pornography habit is keeping you from holding a job or keeping you from being able to go to school, or keeping you from having somewhat normal relationships, that's when I would title it an addiction. And I don't take anyone who's addicted. That's out of my scope.
I used to do some work in addiction recovery centers, and those people, they cannot live normal functioning lives. They cannot hold jobs, they cannot have relationships, because their addiction is so involved and such a big part of their life.
I would bet that most of you listening to this podcast are not addicted. So I want you to be really careful with that word and your habit. If you can still have a somewhat normal life, and I say somewhat because normal is so subjective. Who of us actually lives a normal life? And who of us doesn't have buffers and stuff that we're working on?
But if you can function pretty normally, I want you to consider dropping that word addiction and addicted to define yourself. Because when we use that term addiction, it really creates this sense of powerlessness Like we're addicted, I just can't help it. Something's wrong and I'm addicted.
That's not the case for most of you. For most of you, this is a habit. This is a habit and we can rewrite a habit. Habits don't define us. We are not powerless to habits.
So over-desire is that part that feels addictive, that just feels like it just happens. Feels like you just can't help it. Even though it has those addictive properties, that doesn't mean that you are powerless to it.
Just because you have brought this over-desire for the pornography doesn't mean that you can’t train your brain out of that over-desire. You can. It’s so exciting. You trained yourself to want it and now you can train yourself not to want it.
We’re going to go into this here. So how you trained yourself to want pornography, let's talk about this. Pornography gives off dopamine in your brain. So I'm sure you've heard of dopamine, we could talk about dopamine forever.
But really simply dopamine is just a pleasure chemical. It's a pleasure chemical that your brain gives off and your brain thinks that it's really, really important. Your brain thinks that it's important because that's how it survived when we were cavemen and pioneers.
When we were around a fire we would get dopamine, we'd get pleasure. And that taught us to seek warmth and shelter. When we ate food, our brains would give off dopamine, pleasure. That taught us to seek nourishment so we didn't die. When we had sex we got dopamine, pleasure. And that taught us to repopulate so that our species didn't die off.
This is called your reward system. And I go really in depth into this in a webinar that I do occasionally and in my program. But for now we're just going to keep it that simple.
Your reward system is your brain giving yourself dopamine when you do things that are meant to keep you alive. Your brain really, really, really likes dopamine and it's thinks that it's really important. Not only does your brain like dopamine and think it's important, but it also remembers where it gets it and when it gets it.
So this is going to be important here in a minute. Remember that your brain remembers where it gets dopamine and it remembers when it gets it.
So the thing about pornography, and other buffers, is that it gives off very concentrated amounts of dopamine. So there's like a normal amount of dopamine that our brain would get from these things that would keep us alive.
And then 21st century, all of these new things, all these cool things of a culture that is totally all about pleasure. These things that we have now give off very concentrated doses of dopamine. Like two times the amount of dopamine.
So pornography gives you about two times the amount of dopamine than other things your brain is used to getting. Same with sugar. Same with alcohol and other buffers. So your brain thinks that pornography is extra important, because it's giving it way more dopamine.
So your brain is always thinking, “Oh yeah, we need all that dopamine. That's good, that's good, go and get that. Remember, that pornography gives us two times the amount of dopamine, we need that.” And when you look at the porn your brain gets used to that high concentrated amount of dopamine.
So now it's not just used to a normal amount of dopamine, but it's used to this high 2X amount of dopamine. This is what creates over-desire. That over-desire is that extra dopamine your brain is used to.
So if you wake up in the middle of the night, you look at porn, your brain remembers that. It remembers when and where it gets it. So maybe you're in the habit of waking up and having urges every night.
The reason that you have that is because your brain is like, “Oh yeah, remember that one time in the middle of the night that we got all this dopamine? We need to wake up again and get that dopamine again.” It's like, “Hey, wake up. Remember? Remember, this is when we get our dopamine, let's do this.”
That might be why specific emotions like stress or loneliness really trigger urges, because your brains like, “Hey, you remember? When we feel these emotions, we get this dopamine.” It might be why when your spouse goes out of town you have a lot of urges. Your brain is like, “Hey, remember? As soon as they leave, we get this dopamine.”
Or when it's early in the morning, or late at night, or if you just have strong urges, that's why. Because it's remembering where and when it gets this dopamine that it thinks is really important. These strong urges that you have, it's your brain kind of yelling at you because it's used to that dopamine, and it thinks that it's important.
But we know that that's a lie, right? We know that that over-desire is a lie. We know that it's not important. We know that we don't need it. It’s just this one part of your brain that doesn't really get it yet, that's a little bit tricked. That part of the brain just doesn't really get it, it's a little bit confused. That's why it's yelling at you to get it.
And again, like I said at the beginning of this episode, understanding this is so, so important. Because when we understand how we trained ourselves to want it, we can understand how to train ourselves not to want it. Just because you have the over-desire right now doesn't mean like, “Oh, crap, I'm stuck with this forever.”
And that's kind of the message that we get. So I want to bring it up again, just because you started looking at it when you were a teenager and didn't really understand what was happening, that doesn't mean you're stuck with it forever. We can train ourselves not to want it.
And I want to illustrate how to do this through the story of Pavlov and his dogs. So if you've taken any basic psychology class, I'm sure you've heard of Pavlov and his dogs.
Pavlov was a scientist who had this experiment where he put his dogs in a cage. And every day he would go and ring a bell, and then he would give his dogs a treat. So he'd ring the bell, give them a treat. Ring the bell, give them a treat. Ring the bell, give them a treat. And he did that over and over and over again.
Pretty soon, when he rang the bell, they would start salivating because they would be expecting a treat. They had been conditioned to want the treat at the sound of the bell.
If you've seen The Office episode where Jim conditions Dwight to want a mint every time his computer dings, it's the same thing. So Jim will ding his computer and then offer Dwight a mint. Ding, mint, ding, mint, ding, mint. And Dwight takes them every time.
And then after a certain amount of time, Jim dings his computer and Dwight just sticks out his hand. And Jim says, “What are you doing?” And Dwight looks at his hand and he goes, “Oh, I don't know.” And then he pauses and he says, “Oh, my mouth feels so dry. Oh, my mouth feels like it needs a mint.”
This is the same principle. He conditioned Dwight to want a mint at the sound of the ding. So this is like you with your pornography habit. You have certain triggers that cause you to have urges to want to view pornography. You have your own bells that cause you to salivate. Like we talked about maybe that's a certain time of the day, maybe that's certain events, maybe it's certain emotions.
The part of the experiment that we don't usually hear in class and that we don't talk about very often is that not only was Pavlov able to condition his dogs to salivate at the sound of the bell, but he was able to decondition his dogs to stop salivating at the sound of the bell. And it's so simple.
All he did was ring the bell and not give them the treat. Ring the bell and not give them the treat over, and over, and over, and over again. And the dogs were pretty miserable at first, right? Because they would hear that bell and then they'd start salivating and they’d get really mad like, “Come on, where's my treat?” But he did it enough times that eventually they would hear that bell and not even salivate.
So that's the question here is how do we do that? How do we ring the bell and not give ourselves the treat of the pornography? I talk about this in my free training, make sure you go listen to it if you haven't yet.
But the principle here that I'm going to mention is that if we just run away from it, right, if Pavlov would have just thrown the bell away, or just gone and put the dogs on an island for a few years, and then brought them back and rang the bell again, they still would have salivated at the sound of the bell, even if it had been 5, 10 years after hearing that bell because that's what they were conditioned to do.
So we don't want to just run away from the bells, we want to ring it and not give it to ourselves. And we do that enough times, we do that enough times, and the over-desire goes away. And we can stay up late alone and not be having constant urges to look at pornography. Or we can sleep through the night without waking up for urges with pornography, or your spouse can go out of town or et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. That's exactly how we do it. And it's just basic science.
That's a whole new skill that we have to learn, is how to ring the bell and not give it to ourselves. It’s just something that you haven't learned yet. And this is exactly why it doesn't have to be something that you will struggle with forever.
So if you hear that again, if you hear that from someone that this is just something that you have to learn how to cope with for your life, I want you to remember this story. You don't have to struggle with this forever. You can decondition your brain to not want the porn, just like Pavlov did with his dogs. Just like my clients do. Just like so many people do with other things like alcohol, and sugar. You can become someone who doesn't want it anymore.
It's your birthright as a human, as a child of God to learn how to do that. That is exactly what the gospel teaches. And that's also the purpose of the free training that I offer. I know I've mentioned this a lot, but I just want to make sure that if you haven't gone and downloaded it yet that you go and do that because we talk about specifically how to listen to the bell without giving yourself a treat. So make sure you go and download that.
So to recap, we've talked about fixing the root of pornography by fixing the need to buffer and recognizing that pornography is a buffer. Which means that it's a way to escape our emotions. This episode we talked about fixing the root of the pornography by changing our over-desire.
Over-desire is the reason that you have a lot of strong urges. Over-desire is created because of dopamine that is in the pornography. It's created because you trained your brain to want this concentrated amount of dopamine. Over-desire can be unlearned, just like Pavlov taught his dogs to unlearn it. And just like so many people in the world unlearn over-desire with so many different things.
And then lastly, we're going to talk about fixing the root of the problem, which is fixing your identity. Not fixing your identity, that sounds a little bit funny, like there's something wrong with you. There's not but changing your identity. How to see yourself as someone who doesn't struggle with pornography. I'm really excited for that one so make sure you come and give it a listen.
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All you have to do is subscribe, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts. This allows me to get my message out to more people who need it and it will enter you in the giveaway to win a $50 Amazon gift card or an electric scooter.
Go visit sarabrewer.com/podcastlaunch to get information. That's Sara Brewer without an H, S-A-R-A brewer.com/podcastlaunch, all one word, to get all the information on how to enter that giveaway.