Episode 24: Fear of the Future

Uncategorized Jun 27, 2021


Fear of the future is something that comes up so often for my clients and anyone with a pornography habit. They think to themselves, “If I look at porn, my life will be ruined.” And while it may seem like fear is the perfect motivator, I want to show you the dark side of overemphasizing this perspective.

I asked a bunch of you recently, what are you afraid of when it comes to pornography, and what does that fear cause you to act? The answers were incredibly eye-opening, and the actions people take only perpetuate the problem. But what I want for you is to take positive action towards quitting porn, so I’m sharing the reality of using fear as a motivator in today’s episode.

Tune in this week to discover why the fear that so many people feel around quitting porn is not the motivator you need if you want to break the habit. I’m sharing why love and hope will always take you further than fear and how you can work on overcoming any fear around porn, so you can overcome pornography for good.

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:    

  • Why a fear of the future is not an effective motivator for quitting porn.
  • How we tend to act when we’re acting out of fear and stress.
  • Why you can’t get out of the shame cycle if you’re still experiencing fear of the future around using porn.
  • The thoughts that come up for my clients when they try using fear as a motivator instead of determination and hope.
  • How fearing and demonizing pornography actually gives porn more power over you and takes away your power to quit.
  • 3 steps to working through the fear that you have around pornography and how to move forward from a more useful emotional space.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • Click here to sign up for my free mastermind called How to Quit Viewing Pornography Even if You’ve Tried in the Past!

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 24, Fear of the Future.

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 episode this week. I'm so glad that you're here. I'm really excited for this episode. It’s a big episode. We’re covering something big, all this fear of the future. It might be something that we have to come back and address a few times, but yeah. In this 25 minutes, we are going to address all this big fear of the future that you have when it comes to pornography.

So before we hop into all of that, which I'm very excited for, I just wanted to share a review that one of you left here on my podcast. The title is “I Feel Clean.” They say, “I've struggled with pornography for over a decade, and I was beginning to assume that I would be stuck with this forever. I was getting worn out and wanting to just live complacently with my porn habits.

“First of all, Sara mentions, and I love this, that you can live a righteous life and still have a habit like this. You can be a good-hearted person and still struggle. I guess I like this podcast because she understands where I'm at in my life. It’s almost like she’s talking to me. I feel listened to for the first time in my life. Sarah understands and she won't go away. It is like having someone listen. I feel clean. Though I still slip up sometimes, I have the confidence in her trainings in conjunction with the savior’s atonement that I can eventually overcome this. Thanks Sara.”

Thank you so, so much for sharing that review with me. That is just awesome. I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of you and the progress that you're making and how you're feeling and how you're going about all of this. This is so great.

If you haven’t had a moment to go and leave me a review, I would love to encourage you right now to take just one quick minute there on your iTunes app. You can just scroll down to the bottom and leave a rating and review. When you do this, it helps other people find this podcast, and it helps kind of get the word out there a little bit better. It’s one of the best things you can do to help the podcast if you're enjoying it and it’s helping you. Again, thank you so much. Please go leave me a review if you haven’t yet. That would be awesome.

Okay. Let’s hop into today’s topic, just fear of the future. Okay. This is so common when we’re talking about pornography and talking about quitting pornography. People like to use fear as a motivator here. Fear as the main motivator here. Right? Fear of the future. If you look at porn, your life will be ruined. If you look at porn, didn’t you know Ted Bundy was into porn, right? Like mmm careful. You might become a serial killer.

Or just videos I remember watching that are all dark and heavy and scary because this person had viewed pornography. Because he’d viewed pornography, his whole life was ruined and his whole marriage was ruined.  Or there’s a lot of fear of losing relationships, which are big ones. These are normal things. Here’s the problem when we overemphasize this. I mean think about the actions that you take from fear.

I actually asked a lot of you who follow me on Instagram. I put up a question box on my story, and I said, “Hey what are you afraid of when it comes to pornography? What does that fear cause you to do?” Here's what you guys told me. Here's what you told me you do when you feel this fear.

You said you seek justification. You said you become depressed about the future. Many people told me, “I try my best to stop, but then I end up doing it more. It’s so confusing. I don’t know why that happens.” You hide it from everyone. You get stressed and more fearful, and then you want to avoid that and numb out.

Remember, pornography is your buffer. It’s that way that you are escaping your emotion. So if you're feeling a lot of fear and stress, your go to way to getting rid of that is pornography. Crazy the cycle, right? It’s that shame cycle, which many of you said it brings back the shame cycle. This fear brings back the shame cycle.

You said that you fall back into viewing porn. You view more porn. You experience anxiety, paranoia, and self-sabotage. Many of you said that you avoid the prospect of a family. You avoid even dating or thinking about dating. You give into your urges. You're much more likely to give into your urges because what's the point? You feel bad and you fall back into habits. This fear, it causes us to resist and push down the urges.

Remember what that does? All it does is it makes them come back stronger when you resist and push away. No, no, no. Go away, go away, go away. It just makes it come back stronger like holding a beach ball underwater. Right? When you hold a beach ball underwater, it just wants to pop up and come back stronger. We hide when we mess up. We live our life avoiding pornography instead of exercising and learning and practicing self-control. 

The thing is is that sometimes people get confused and they think that the fear is motivating them. Or they think that the fear will motivate someone else. Now fear motivates us to take action, but not usually positive action. Not usually action that’s going to help us quit. I really want you to think about how fear helps you with your porn habit because that’s what's so important here.

You guys know I'm all about the result of helping you guys quit porn. So that means choosing emotions and feelings that are going to help you get that result. The reality is that fear isn’t one of those emotions. Sometimes we get confused a little bit. We think, “If I feel fear, I will try to do better. If I feel fear, I will never give up.” It doesn’t. It doesn’t do that. That, “I will try to do better, and I will never give up.” That isn’t a result from the fear. That is a result of some kind of emotion like motivation or determination or hope.

So sometimes you feel that fear, and then you go into determination, or you go into hope. The determination and the hope is causing you to never give up and to try better. The fear isn’t causing you to do that. You can be determined, and you can have that hope without experiencing the fear beforehand.

Okay, fear causes us to give up, to give in, to resist, ignore, push away, and causes us to go back to that cycle of willpower and giving in. The result of fear is that it actually gives more power to pornography. Do you see this when you give in, give up, resist, ignore, push it away? That gives it more power in your life. That’s all because of the deep fear around it.

Isn’t that fascinating that fearing and demonizing pornography gives it more power? If it was a helpful thing, I would say, “Yeah, let’s use it. Let me tell you all these reasons to be afraid. Let’s look at all of the fear-based research and use it to quit porn.” But it’s not. It’s not helpful. I see that over and over and over again in my clients. It’s really fascinating to my clients when they start to recognize this, and they see what the fear does and how it causes them to look at more porn. They really see that, and they're like, “Oh my gosh. That’s so fascinating.”

So fear gives more power to pornography. Focusing on and ruminating on this fear gives it much more power. It’s not helpful. And you can quit for good without all of the fear around it. The fear is not required to quit for good. Some of us get confused. Some of us think, “If I'm not very afraid of what my life will look like with this, I won't be able to quit.”

The reality is, and I see this all the time with my clients, you guys said this to me with my poll on Instagram, and you say it to me all the time. The fear doesn’t help you quit. It makes it worse, and it makes it harder to quit. Think about this. If some of you are struggling with this, that’s okay. Just be open to the idea. I just want you to be open to this idea.

Think about the scripture and the bible, right? God has not given us the power of fear but of love. That’s because God knows that fear as a motivator isn’t very useful, isn’t very hopeful. But love and hope is so much more of a motivator and so much more helpful. So why wouldn’t that apply to pornography as well?

If you're feeling any anger towards anyone who might have used these fear-based tactics with quitting pornography, I want to invite you to offer some empathy and understanding towards these people who might have said this to you too because they just didn’t know better. They were trying to do the best that they could. But now that we know that fear is not helpful and demonizing porn isn’t helpful, what can we do about these fears?

Okay, let’s talk about that. I have three steps for you. What do we do with this fear around the future when it comes to pornography? So first is we want to find the root. What is it that we’re afraid of? Number two, we want to question and examine that fear. Number three is we want to consciously choose what to focus on. So let’s dive into those.

Number one, find the root. Find the thought causing the fear. These are the big ones that I hear and the big ones that you told me on my Instagram profile last week. Said, “I'm afraid of losing my family, of not being able to keep a family or keep my relationships, not being able to be happy in a relationship, afraid of divorce and breakup, afraid of future problems in my marriage and problems with my sexual desire.”

Some of you said, “I'm afraid I will ruin my life and lose everything in the end.” Some of you said, “I'm afraid that my spouse will break up with me. I'm afraid I will ruin lives.” Okay. So that’s what we want to do. We want to find the root of it. You just ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” So often we want to just avoid that fear and not think about the fear. What I want to encourage you to do here is to think about it and to dive into it and ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”

So when you're saying to me, I got this answer quite a few times. “I'm going to ruin my life and lose everything in the end.” What do you mean? What specifically do you mean by that? Then write out what does that specifically mean? I'm going to ruin my life and lose everything in the end. Okay, find the root.

Number two, question and examine this fear. How we’re going to do that is we’re going to ask number one, is it true and how likely is it? Number two, if this started to happen, what would I do? Ugh, here's the thing. You guys, we pretend like porn has so much power over us, and that we don’t even have a choice. When it comes to pornography and we’re so fearful of it and we think it has this power over us, we pretend like we don’t even have a choice. Like it’s just going to happen to us.

This is so freaking huge. You have a choice. You can always choose what to do. Porn doesn’t have power over you that would just ruin everything. Okay, you would not just let your life go down the drain unless you believed that you didn’t have power, or you didn’t have a choice.

I don’t know if you can tell. I'm pretty passionate about that. That’s a thing too. When we fear porn and when we demonize porn, we play this narrative like it has all this power over us that we’re just going to ruin our lives and not be able to do anything about it. That’s just not true. That’s just not true. So let’s talk about this, about questioning it and examining it, with these big ones that I hear often. Okay.

So fear number one, “I'm going to lose my family. I'm going to lose my family.” So first, is it true? Maybe, but it’s also not automatically true. Sometimes I’ll have my clients talk to me. And they’ll be porn free, but they’ll come hop on a call to talk because they’re just having a lot of anxiety about the future. They're about to get married or something’s going on. They're like, “But what if I look at it again in the future? What if I accidently slip up in the future and I look at it? Everything is going to be ruined. I'm going to lose my spouse.”

So we just question that. Like is that true? It’s not automatically true that if you slip up and look at porn, you're going to lose your family. There are many, many, many, many people who are in a relationship who have slipped up and viewed porn in that relationship, and it hasn’t ruined that relationship. That’s just the reality here.

I mean I'm not saying that it doesn’t have negative effects on your relationship or that we should just be okay with it if it doesn’t fit in your value system. Absolutely not. But it’s not automatically true that if you slip up and if you view porn, you're going to lose your marriage. In fact, there are many people who are in long marriages with people who have continuously struggled with porn and they’re working on it. Going to be okay.

So it could happen. It could happen, absolutely. But it’s not automatically true like the message is that some of us have gotten growing up, right? You see a video of someone who’s on their computer late at night, and then the next scene is the wife moving out of the house. That’s not automatically true.

Then number two, what would you do if this started to happen? If you're viewing pornography and your relationship was suffering and you could see that as a potential of that happening, of you losing your family, what would you do? What is your conscious choice? It’s not just going to happen to you.

Pornography isn’t going to ruin your marriage. The way that you handle your slip ups is going to determine what happens with the family and the marriage. and the way that your partner and your spouse reacts is going to determine this. It’s not going to be the pornography. Okay, do you hear me? It’s not going to be the pornography that ruins the relationship. It’s going to be you or your spouse or just how you guys just end up handling it. Okay? We don’t need to give pornography the power over this because it doesn’t.

So what would you do? What would you do if this started to happen? What is your conscious choice? Maybe you would get all the help that you needed, and you would go to couples therapy if you needed. You would apologize and you would take care of it. What if you just decided, “I would always take care of it, and I would quit. I would not let this ruin my family.” Do you see how much more powerful that is and how much more control that gives you?

What would you do if that started to happen? You would take care of it. You would do what you needed to to take care of it. It doesn’t have power and control over you. Okay?

Fear number two. This one’s a little bit funny but also not funny because I know a lot of you think about it. Okay, I'm going to become a serial killer or terrible person who’s doing terrible things in the world because I viewed pornography. Is this true? No. It’s not. You guys, in reality in the past 30 days, 80% of men have looked at porn. Now compare that to the amount of serial killers that are in the world? Pornography is not a direct correlation as to whether or not you will become a serial killer or do terrible things in the world, okay?

When we say it out loud, it sounds funny. It sounds like, “Of course. Of course.” This is one of those subliminal messages that we get when we’re really focused on the fear-based tactics around viewing pornography. Like hey, didn’t you know Ted Bundy viewed porn? So does pornography effect you and effect the way that you see people and effect the way that you see the world? Absolutely, yes. I don’t like it. I don’t like porn. I don’t think it’s healthy. I don’t think it’s good for us. But is it going to cause you to become a serial killer? No.

So what is your choice? What is your choice? What would you do if you became afraid of this, or something started to happen? I'm very positive that that’s not going to happen for any of you, but your brain wants to go there. Your brain wants to go to the worst-case scenario like, “Okay but what if? What if something happened and I wanted to do a terrible thing?”

You have a choice here. What would be your choice? You could choose, “I'm not going to hurt anyone. I would immediately go and get help. I would take care of it.”  You have a choice. You have control over this. Pornography doesn’t have control whether or not you hurt people, ever.

So is it true that you're going to hurt people because you're looking at pornography? No, not automatically. Does pornography effect the way you see people? Yes. But you always have a choice. What would you do? You would choose to not hurt people. You would choose to quit pornography. You would choose to get the help that you needed.

Fear number three, I will have problems with my sexual desire. Now, is that true? Maybe. Yeah, that happens. Absolutely that happens. Then what would you do if this started to happen? So instead of just stopping there— “I'm going to have problems with my sexual desire”—what would you do if this started to happen?

You would see a sex therapist. You could choose to go see a sex therapist. You could choose to do research. You could choose to give it everything you have to quit pornography and to quit porn and to get that sexual desire back. You would choose to work on your relationship with your partner to have a great sexual relationship with them. It doesn’t just have to end there where you have problems and oop, now you have problems for the rest of your life. You have a choice here too.

This fear, “I will ruin my life and lose everything in the end.” So first, is this true? I mean really the question here is like what does that even mean? Get specific. What does that mean? Then, is that true? If that started to happen, if that was a possibility, what would you do? What's your choice? How would you show up here?

“I'm afraid that my boyfriend or girlfriend will break up with me.” Now, is this true? Maybe. Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. Again, kind of like, “I would lose my family,” it’s not automatically true. It could be true, but there are also lots of boyfriends and girlfriends who are working through this together. That will just be something that you and that person think about and decide what you want to do and how you want to handle it, but it could be true. Maybe yes, maybe no.

Then lastly, take the power back. What would you do if this happened? Even here, I would go to that place of you do get broken up with. What would you do? You would choose to quit pornography. You would choose to get the help that you needed to quit pornography maybe. You would choose to never give up.

Then if you were broken up with, you would grieve and you would be sad, and you would be really hurt for a while. Then eventually we’d be okay. We’d heal from that. We’d be stronger. We’d be done with porn. Okay, do you see how much more powerful that is?

Really this process too is recognizing the fear, and then taking it a step further. So instead of just stopping at, “I'm afraid this will happen,” then asking yourself, “Okay what would I do if this did happen or if this started to happen?” Just taking it a step further. We can do this with all sorts of fears that we have, but of course we’re talking specifically about fears of pornography in our future. Okay. So that’s step two is question, evaluate the fear. Look at it, question it.

Number three, this is huge. This is probably the biggest one you guys is to consciously choose to focus on the future that you actually want. Instead of spending so much time focusing on the future that we don’t want, spend time focusing on the future that we actually want. I think it’s Dan Sullivan who says that the future is your property. The future doesn’t just happen to you. It is your property.

Like I said, when it comes to pornography, we talk to ourselves like we have no control. We have no control over the future. We act like pornography has control over our future, and it doesn’t. Or we act like we have no control of whether or not we keep viewing pornography. Like it just has this power over us. It doesn’t. It doesn’t.

I hope that you’ve started to understand this while listening to my podcast, but really these urges to view pornography, they don’t have power over you. All these urges are are some discomforts and some restlessness. This feeling that we can absolutely sit through. Pornography does not have control over your future. You have control over your future.

Okay so back to consciously choose what to focus on the future that you actually want. Even if your fear could be true, there were quite a few of those that we talked about that could absolutely be true. Even if it could be true and it could happen, that doesn’t mean we have to focus on it all the time. All right?

For example, leaving my kids with a babysitter. Something could happen, yes. Something could happen, yes. Someone could die, yes. This babysitter that I trust could actually be crazy. But I'm not going to sit here and think about it and ruminate on it all the time. People would tell me that’s not healthy or helpful.  That’s not healthy or helpful to sit there and ruminate on it all the time.

It’s the same with these fears around our future with pornography. It’s not helpful. Yeah, maybe it could happen, but a lot of these aren’t very likely. And remember, this is so big, and ruminating on them doesn’t help you quit. So I don’t want you to misunderstand me here and be like, “Oh, Sara’s just telling me that everything in fine and dandy, and you can just have a great normal healthy life and view pornography.” I mean some people would argue yes that that’s true, but that’s not what I'm saying here. I don’t like pornography, but this fear doesn’t help us take control over it.

Okay, so. Even if it could be true, I don’t have to think about it all the time. I want to introduce to you this idea of equal airtime. Equal airtime. Where you focus on the future that you want and the result that you want when it comes to pornography and your family and your life more or at least the same amount that you focus on the future and the fears that you don’t want. Equal airtime. At least equal amounts of time focusing on what you want more than you're focusing on what you don’t want.

Because what’s really fascinating too, right, like what you focus on is going to be what you create. I don’t want you to get really afraid when I say that and be like, “Oh no. Now I can never have fears.” You can have fears, but let’s just practice equal airtime so that we don’t create what we’re afraid of.

So we’re focusing on a future without pornography, a future with very healthy relationships where we’re really strong and self-motivated and committed and we’re in control of ourselves. We’re focusing on that future and believing in that future more or at least the same as we’re focused on all of the fears and all of the things that could go wrong. Okay?

Why do we spend so much time focused on what we don’t want? We should practice spending that energy to focus on what we do want at least the same amount of time that we focus on what we don’t want. Okay. Equal airtime. That’s the idea. Equal airtime.

Listen, if you don’t believe that you can quit pornography, you must practice believing that you can. You must practice believing that you have control over it. It’s okay it’s you don’t believe it right away. It’s okay if it takes time, but you have to practice and give yourself permission to practice believing that you can do it. You can. You can. You can quit pornography. It’s so much easier than you think because it doesn’t have the control and the power over you that you think it does.

Okay you guys. So just a quick recap. Fear as a motivator is not actually a good motivator to quit pornography. I see over and over again, and all of you tell me that when you feel this fear, you actually look at more pornography and you hide, and you avoid, and you give into it more. So fear is keeping us from quitting pornography. At least really focusing in on the fear.

Number two, a good way to handle these fears is to find the root, question and examine it, and consciously choose your focus. Okay? So we want to ask ourselves what are we afraid of and really go there. Really ask ourselves what is it that we’re afraid of? Then we want to ask is it true? Is this true? It’s not automatically true, most of the time.

Then if it was about to happen, if it started to happen, what would you do? What is your choice? How would you handle this? Then consciously choose to focus on the future that you want instead of focusing on the future that you don’t want.

Now it’s okay to have these fears, and they're going to come up. That’s not a problem. But we don’t have to give them a lot of power either. We can notice the fear, and then we can give equal airtime to what we want to happen and to the future that we want to create. All right you guys. Thanks for being here today. Have a great week. I’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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