When it comes to trying to overcome pornography, so many of my clients come to me absolutely terrified of their urges. They believe they won’t be able to stop the habit if their urges show up, but our urges are just sensations in our bodies that we don’t have to indulge in, and I’m showing you how today.
The truth is that our urges are just like toddlers throwing a tantrum. They aren’t dangerous, they won’t hurt you, and they’re not a problem. We don’t have to push them away, run away from them, or try to silence them. In fact, I’m encouraging you to start welcoming them in as much as you can.
Join me this week as I show you how to stop fearing urges, and how learning to sit with them is the key to finding confidence. Like any new skill, there will be failures along the way, but when you aren’t scared of them, believing they’re evil or bad in some way, I promise, you’ll start seeing a new way to approach them that will completely change your life.
I’m Sara Brewer and you’re listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 4, Stop Fearing Urges.
Welcome to the Overcome Pornography For Good podcast where we take a research-based, trauma informed and results focused approach to quitting porn. This approach has been revolutionary and changed thousands and thousands of lives. I’m your host, Sara Brewer.
Well, hi everyone. I'm so excited to be here today. I'm so excited to share this topic with you on urges. This is one of my most requested topics and one that is kind of the most mind blowing. So I hope that you enjoy this episode today.
What I want to start with though, is just a big thank you. A big thank you to those of you who have gone and left a review for me on this podcast. When I started, I had a goal, I wanted to get 50 reviews and that felt huge. And this morning, it's a Saturday morning, five days after I launched it I have over 70. Over 70 reviews and I just am blown away. So thank you so much for doing that.
When you leave a review, it really helps me out and it helps get this message to as many people as possible. So thank you for doing that. I want to share with you one of the reviews that was left here on this podcast.
It says, “Over the years I have done a lot of reading, and listening, and consulting about overcoming pornography. So far, Sara Brewer offers the most confidence inspiring method. Listening to her break down this impossibly big problem into something completely manageable is empowering.
I feel no sense of shame or disgust when Sara is speaking. She is not afraid of the word pornography either, which is so important for recovery. This podcast is going to be an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn more about overcoming pornography for good.
So many are afraid this problem can be temporarily resolved only to show up again at the worst time. Sarah offers hope and tools to ensure you don't have to be afraid. She is taking fear and shame out of the picture. Highly recommended.”
Thank you. Thank you for leaving that review for me. If you are listening to this podcast, if you left this, thank you for doing that. And if you haven't yet, go and leave a review on the iTunes. It takes about one minute.
All right, let's get into it today. And kind of on that note I do want to go a little bit more into addressing fear. And specifically addressing fear around urges. The main goal, what I want you to understand from this is that urges are not scary, they're not something to be afraid of. And you'll see why in a minute.
So really quickly, what is an urge? If you haven't followed me for a while, I use that word, urge, a lot. But what an urge is, is it's just another name for desire. So it's that feeling of desire. It's that feeling of being pulled towards something, of wanting something. It's an urge to go and get it.
And many of you, when you think about pornography and your urges to view pornography, you're very afraid of these urges. And like I mentioned, what I want to show you today is that an urge isn't actually a problem. And it's nothing to be afraid of. And here's why.
An urge is a feeling, which means that it's a vibration in your body. That's all an urge is, it’s a vibration in your body. It's not a hole that you're going to get lost in. It's not a demon inside you that's making you do something. It's not dangerous. An urge is a vibration in your body, period.
You'll have to forgive me; my voice is a little bit raspy this morning. And I think I'm getting a little bit sick or it just might be because it's early and I haven't warmed up my voice enough. So I'll be stopping for some water as I'm talking.
So an urge is just a vibration in your body. We're going to get into that and what that means specifically. But first I want to just mention that there's a difference between urges and thoughts. Urges, or desire, is a feeling. Something that you feel in your body. Thoughts are sentences in your brain that cause the feeling. This is really important; you will always have a thought that precedes the urge.
So, I want that. I want to keep looking, I need this. I'm tired of feeling this way. I deserve it. I like that. Those are all examples of thoughts that will cause you to have an urge. And they're different, thoughts are separate from urges. So next time you have an urge, I want you to notice that, notice these two different things.
First, I want you to notice your thoughts. What thoughts did I have before this that are causing this urge? I want that, I need it. Oh no, I'm feeling this urge, I can't handle this. Just notice what are the thoughts that are preceding the urge?
And number two, I want you to notice the urge. I want you to focus on the urge, on that vibration, on that sensation in your body. And how you do that is first you drop into your body and you use descriptive words to explain the urge.
So for example, when I have an urge to eat chocolate, I feel my mouth start to salivate a little bit and I feel other sensations. So for me, when I dive into it, I notice a little bit of a tightness in my chest and in my throat. Maybe some heaviness in my gut. So that's what I want you to start to notice.
And if you haven't done this before, it's going to be totally new to you, you might not have any idea what an urge feels like if you haven't been aware of it. So this is going to be something new for you to try. But I want you to notice what sensations do you have in your body when you feel an urge to view pornography? And get really intimate with it.
So where in your body do you feel it? Do you feel it in your throat? Do you feel it in your chest? You feel it in your gut? Do you feel it in your head? Do you feel in your shoulders, or your neck? And then use descriptive words to explain what it feels like. So does it feel heavy? Or does it feel light? Does it feel sharp or dull? Does it feel fast or slow? If you were to give it a color, what color would you give it?
A really good way to imagine this is to imagine that you're explaining this to an alien. So an alien comes to earth. And you're talking to this alien who doesn't have a human body and you're trying to explain your struggle with pornography.
You're telling this alien, “I don't want to look at pornography. I don't want it in my life. But I feel this urge, I feel this sensation and it makes me look at it. And it's really hard. And it's really hard to not look at it when you feel this sensation.” And this alien is like, “Whoa, well, what is this? Explain to me what this urge is? What is this urge that's keeping you from living the life you want to live? And what is this urge that's keeping you looking at something that you don't want to be looking at?”
You’re like, “Okay, it's this feeling in my chest that's heavy and fast.” And the alien is like, “Oh, it's heavy, like it's pushing something down into your body and like going to wreck your innards? Wreck your intestines or something?” You're like, “No, there's not something actually in my chest that's really heavy, it just feels really heavy. It feels really fast.”
Like, “Oh, okay. What else?” “Well, and my throat starts to feel tight.” And the alien is like, “Oh, your throat starts to feel tight, like it starts to constrict unless you go look at pornography?” You’re like, “No, it's not going to constrict. It's not going to keep me from breathing. It just feels tight.”
Okay, what else? Why else is this such a big deal? “Well, my heart starts to be really fast. My heart starts to beat really fast. “And the alien is like, “Oh, your heart's starting to beat really fast? Like it's going to hurt you, or it's going to pop out of your chest, or it's going to go so fast that it stops working?” You're like, “No, it's nothing like that. It's just uncomfortable, it doesn't feel good.”
Okay, when you look at it from that standpoint, what is it about this urge, this heavy, fast feeling in your chest, your throat feeling tight, your heart beating fast? Why can't we sit with a tight, heavy, fast feeling? Of course we can do that. Of course we can do that. It's a little bit uncomfortable but it's not dangerous.
And when you really get down to what an urge actually is, and when you really find that in your body and you get out of the mind drama, and you go deep in your body and you just say, “Okay, what is this urge?” You recognize, “Oh, this just feels restless. This just feels heavy. This just feels tight. This just feels uncomfortable. I can sit with heavy, tight, fast feeling.
And it’s going to be a little bit different for each of you. That's just one example, is heavy in my chest and throat feeling tight, right? You'll have to notice that it feels like for yourself. But no matter what the sensation is, you can sit with that. Of course you can sit with that. It’s a little bit uncomfortable, like I said, but it's not dangerous.
And I want you to think of your urge. Instead of thinking of your urge as some big, bad, scary thing I want you to think of it like a toddler. I have a toddler and let me tell you, when they don't get what they want. They tend to throw fits.
So if you're in the grocery store with a toddler, he wants a candy bar. You're not going to give him a candy bar, he starts to throw a fit. Maybe he gets on the ground, maybe starts pounding the ground. We don't have to react by running away from the toddler like, “Oh no, if I hear him screaming at me, I'm going to have to give him the candy bar and I don't want to do that.” You don’t have to react by yelling at him or by trying to silence him.
The best way to handle a toddler who’s throwing a fit is to get down on his level to comfort him, to say, “Hey, I know you want that but we're not going to have it right now. And I love you enough just to sit here with you because I know you're upset.” Maybe pat him on the back.
That's exactly what your urge is, your urge is throwing a fit, it's making you uncomfortable. Just like when a toddler is throwing a fit it's uncomfortable for you, it’s uncomfortable for the toddler. It's not that fun to sit with it but you sit with it because you know if you give into it, if you give him the candy bar, it's going to start throwing fits more often. And you sit with it because you know that running away from it doesn't actually help. You sit with it because that’s the way that you handle a toddler throwing a fit so that he doesn't throw a fit forever.
It's the same with your urges. You don't have to run away from it. You don't have to push it away. You don't have to try to silence it. You can sit with it, be really compassionate with it. Like, “Hey, I know you want that. I know you want that and we're not going to have it. And this is uncomfortable. And this doesn't feel good for either of us. But that's okay. I love you enough just to sit here with you.”
How different of an approach is that than so many of you when you feel that urges you think evil, terrible, bad? And I promise you thinking evil, terrible, bad, horrible, that is going to make the urge stronger, and it's going to give it more power over you. The urge is just a toddler who wants a candy bar and isn't getting it. And it feels uncomfortable. And it feels heavy, fast, tight. But we can sit with heavy, fast, tight.
Another tip as you're doing this, as you're going through and practicing this is to use as neutral of language as possible. So if you find yourself explaining this urge like it's this dark cloud that's overtaking my body and I'm just grasping for pornography. Or if you find yourself explaining it like it's this irresistible pull towards something, that's pretty dramatic. You see how those descriptive words that you're using irresistible, grasping, those feel really dramatic. And so what is it really?
Let's get into what is it really. Get even more basic and more neutral. It's heavy, it feels fast, it feels restless. The words that you use to describe your urge are important because using words like irresistible, or grasping, or more dramatic words are going to make it seem bigger than it actually is.
And you will be amazed at yourself when you do this. You'll start to think, “This is what has caused me so much pain? This sensation is what has kept me from living the life that I want to live? This urge? This is nothing, I can totally sit with this.” And it is, it's so simple. And it's not always easy, but it's very, very simple. You can totally sit with this.
And learning to sit with these urges will give you so much confidence. And it will help you stop fearing the urges, learning to sit with this. And it takes practice. I want to make sure that I mention that it takes practice. It's a new skill. Just like riding a snowboard, you're going to fall, you're not going to do it perfectly. And the more you practice, the better you're going to get.
With my clients, what we do is we do 100 urges together. So they practice 100 times, and then they come to coaching sessions in between and they get help when they're stuck. And they ask me questions as they're practicing just to get better and better. It's like trying to learn to play the piano by yourself versus having a teacher with you.
But this exercise of doing 100 urges and coming and learning from 100 urges. And it's amazing to see where they are after 100 urges. I want you to start doing this, start counting how many urges you can just sit with. If you can get to 100, I promise you will be a completely different person at the end of that.
And I want you to notice when I talk about feelings, and I'll talk about them a lot in this podcast, in my work, and with my clients I talk about them a lot. Because it's so important, it's such a huge part of this. When I talk about feelings and learning how to sit with your feelings, this isn't soft, gentle work. This isn't soft, feel good work. This is the work of self-control.
When I say self-control isn't about not feeling things, but self-control is about learning to sit with any sensation, any feeling. This is exactly what I'm talking about. When you can sit with any feeling, when you can sit with any sensation, you'll have complete self-control.
Self-control isn't getting rid of the urges or never thinking thoughts that make you feel urges. We want to work on our thoughts and we want to learn how to redirect our thoughts, but you're not going to be able to control every single thought that comes in. It's just not possible.
So self-control isn't about stopping any thoughts. Self-control is about feeling any urge, feeling any sensation and just letting it be there without giving into it. And how you do it is by describing the sensation in your body, getting very neutral about it, and breathing into it.
All right, you don't need to be afraid of urges anymore. They are simple sensations in your body. They are not dangerous. They are not going to hurt you. They're not a problem. In fact, the more urges that you experience, that you process, and that you sit with, the more self-control you will have and the quicker you will overcome pornography. So welcome your urges feel them, get intimate with them. Don't be afraid of them. This will completely change your life.
All right, a little recap. Number one, urges are different than thoughts and urges are caused by our thoughts. Number two, urges are sensations in your body that are very simple to sit with. Number three, urges are not dangerous. And number four, it takes practice. At least 100 times to get really good at this skill.
All right, you guys, thanks for being here. Go try it out. And then let me know how it goes. The best way to contact me or to let me know how it goes is through my Instagram. So you can follow me at Sara Brewer Coaching. Let me know if you try this. I want to hear how it goes. Alright, talk to you next week.
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.