One thing that I hear often from my clients in doing our work together is the statement, “It’s easier to give in to my urges.” I won’t argue that sitting with an urge isn’t hard or uncomfortable, it most definitely is. But your brain telling you that it’s just easier to give in to your urge to watch porn is a lie.
This week, I’m introducing you to a concept called hard vs. harder. You might be framing your work to overcome porn with the question, “Is it going to be hard? Is it going to take too much energy and effort?” The truth is, it will be hard, but it’ll be even harder to continue to give in, to stay stuck for even a day longer, riddled with shame, feeling unproductive, lost, and lonely.
Join me this week as I invite you to choose a hard that gets you where you want to be. Making any habit change is going to guarantee discomfort, but I’m showing you how to call your brain out on the lie that it’s easier to keep going with the same old script, and how to make a decision to choose the hard anyway.
You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 60, Hard Versus Harder.
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, guys, welcome to the podcast episode this week. I'm so glad you're here. I just said episode 60 and I cannot believe that this is the 60th episode. That just sounds like so many, doesn’t that sound like a ton? And I still have so much to share with you, I feel like we've just gotten started. So I'm not going anywhere, anytime soon.
I have a Google doc of just ideas and things I want to talk about that is full and just I add things to it all the time. So there's a lot more that we can talk about. And I'm just glad you're here. I'm glad that you're finding value from it. Thank you so much for those of you who have left me a review recently. I read through all of them, and I appreciate every single one of them.
I wanted to share a couple that came up. This one says, “This is free?” It says, “It's hard to put this into words, I'm shocked that this is free. I'm really starting to see myself how I truly believe God sees me. I didn't even think that I beat myself up, but with a deeper look I realized I did.” And then it kind of cuts off for some reason, I can't see the rest of this review.
But I loved that because it made me laugh because that is really what I'm going for with the podcast. I'm going just for so much value that you guys are starting to have transformations just by listening. I have had a number of podcasts that have done that for me in my life and I'm so grateful for them.
And that was the reaction I was hoping to get from you guys as I start putting these out into the world. And I have a couple of reviews that say that, and it makes me laugh a little bit every time and just makes me really happy to see. So I'm so so grateful for you. Thank you for that review.
And then one other one I want to share, it says, “Don't sleep on this. I'll be honest, I was skeptical and thought this was going to be another buns podcast.” Buns podcast, I don't know if that was a typo, or if that means something that I don't know what it means. “Another buns podcast with the same repetitive lessons of try and try again. I was wrong. This is legit, I highly recommend this. Even the techniques about feelings and urges are universal.”
Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate these reviews, you guys. If you haven't yet, I would like to invite you to go and leave a review. You can do that just by scrolling to the bottom of your app and typing in your review, leaving a star review. It's really simple, takes just a minute. And I think they're doing them on Spotify now. I think you can leave ratings and reviews on Spotify now.
I would so appreciate it if you do that, that would be awesome. It helps me get the message out to more people. It helps me to find people who also would benefit from this. And I read all of them. I just, yeah, I really appreciate it. Love you guys for those.
Let's dive into our content today. I want to talk about this concept of hard versus harder. And I first heard this from Jody Moore, and it was a little mind boggling to me. And I decided I wanted to talk about this after coaching a client the other week who said to me, “Well, it's just easier to give in to urges.”
And this comes up a lot in coaching. Once you learn how to process the urges, you learn these skills, you're able to do them, it's not a mystery anymore. Then we really get into the nitty gritty like okay, well why aren't we doing it? We get out of the confusion in our mind, we stop using that as an excuse. We stop telling ourselves it's just too overpowering, we know that it's not. We learn all this and then we see okay, well what's going on? Why are we choosing to look at pornography?
And this specific client, like I said, this is super common, said, “Well, it's just easier to give in to urges.” And then we talked about that moment came, the urge came, he knows how to process it. But you have to decide to sit in the discomfort to process it. Or you can just give into it. And your brain will tell you in this moment that it's way easier to just get into it. We're tired, we've had a long day, we've had a hard day. It's just going to be easier just to give into this today.
And so he said that to me, he said, “Well, it's just easier to give into the urges.” And I stopped and I said, “This is a lie that your brain is telling you. No, it's not. It's not easier to just give into urges.” And let's really think about this and dive into this. There are a number of reasons that it's not easier to get into urges.
Number one, the more that we view porn, the more our brain wants porn. Remember, I think I did an episode on this, just how our brain works and the dopamine and the reward system. And so every time you reinforce that in your brain, and you get that extra dopamine, your brain is going to remind you, “Hey, that dopamine is really important, we need to get more of that.” It's going to remind you, and it's going to give you more urges, and it's going to encourage you to get that dopamine more often.
So you keep training it to view and the urges continue. And so if your goal is to quit, I mean, obviously, looking at it is going to make it a lot harder. And not just like looking at it is going to, “Oh, well, I could have processed that and practiced more.” But it reinforces that in your brain. The more you view porn, the more our brain wants porn. Okay, so that's the first reason it's not easier.
The second reason, is I asked him, I said, “How have you felt for the rest of the day?” And he said, “Honestly, I've just felt icky. I had to spend a lot of time working through shame.” Which I have a number of resources in the program for him to do that. And he was working through those. He had to spend the rest of the day working through those emotions, feeling icky, feeling unproductive. He had to spend time catching up on work, catching up on stuff that he put off doing because of pornography, et cetera, all these things.
And so I asked him, so was it easy to make your day easy when you viewed porn? He said, “No, actually just felt icky for the rest of the day. And that was really hard, that was really difficult.” I said, “Yeah, and now you're here spending time on a coaching call and in a program to quit viewing pornography, instead of spending time doing other things that you would like to do, right?” Just giving into these urges is not easier.
And that's okay, right? We don't have to go into shame. We don't have to be like, “But why did I do that? I'm such an idiot.” But I just want you to point out to your brain and call your brain on those lies. When it's like, “It's just easier to look at porn,” I want you to stop and say, “Is it? Because if I look at porn, these are going to be the effects. And are those effects easier to live with? Or is it maybe easier to process through this?”
And that's okay, you can still choose to look at it, right? You can still let that be an option, but don't lie to yourself and say it's just easier because it's probably not. And that's where this concept of hard versus harder comes in, right?
It's hard to sit with an urge. It is, I’m not going to pretend like it isn't. I'm not going to lie to you guys and say it's so easy, and rainbows, and butterflies. And it feels awesome, and you just feel like you're in Nirvana, right? No, it's hard to sit with an urge. But it's harder to view it and then deal with the effects for the rest of the day. To deal with the ickiness, to deal with the catch up on work you have to do, to deal with feeling unproductive and deal with having to process through this shame now.
And with any buffering, right, when we buffer, and remember, if you haven't listened to me for long, buffering are these actions that we do to escape emotion. And that's what pornography is, is it's an activity to escape emotion, to escape stress, to escape boredom, to escape shame, to escape disappointment, to escape feelings of self-loathing, right? All of these things.
Buffering always has a net negative effect, which means when we do those actions, now there's more negativity. So now, for example, you look at porn to escape stress. Maybe you view the porn, it gets rid of stress for a minute, but the net negative effect is, okay, now the stress comes back because we still have whatever it is that was stressing us out that we didn't actually deal with. Work, school, family, relationships, whatever that is, we still have to deal with that.
And then plus the stress of the porn use, and the stress of the urges, and the stress of doing something that doesn't align with your values, right? There's always a negative effect. So it's hard to stop buffering, it's harder to deal with all the net negative effects of buffering. It's hard to sit with an urge, but it's harder to feel that stagnant emotion, that stuckness, that ickiness, that disappointment, that feeling like you can't change and never going to change.
You know that feeling I'm talking about? Where you just feel icky, and you feel stuck. And it usually comes after doing a lot of buffering, right? If I spend a couple of days watching Netflix because I'm trying to avoid some emotion, by the end of those days I just feel icky, and I feel stuck, I feel murky. It's hard to quit pornography, but it's harder to be struggling with an unwanted pornography habit any longer.
It's hard to change my beliefs about myself, but it's harder to keep these beliefs for one more day. It's harder to keep believing that I'm not enough, to keep believing that I'm weak, to keep believing that I can't do it. All right, are you grasping this principle? Yeah, it's hard, but it might be harder to not do it. And this is why.
I did a guided meditation yesterday, it was to 2/22/22, the big two day. And I'm kind of into the woo-woo stuff. I love the meditations, I love the manifesting, I love that. And so it's a big energy day for 2/22. And part of this meditation, part of this guided meditation this person took us through was looking at a limiting belief that we have.
And then the person who's guiding this meditation had us think about keeping this belief, and 10 years down the road what it would look like, what our life would look like with this belief still there. And 20 years down the road, what our life would look like if we kept believing this belief.
And it was really powerful to think about because yeah, it's hard to change my beliefs about myself. It's hard to change my limiting beliefs. But it's way harder to keep them and to look at my life 10, 20 years down the road with those same beliefs.
Think about whatever limiting belief it is that you're struggling with, I'm not good enough, I'm weak, I can't do it. Let's just think about I’m weak, that might be difficult to change. That's going to take some inner work. That's going to take some really looking at yourself and deciding to change that. But it's going to be way harder, like think about your life in 10 years down the road. If you keep that belief that I'm weak, what will your life look like? 20 years down the road, what will your life look like?
It's harder to keep those beliefs for even just one more day. It's hard to admit that you need help. It's hard to pay for help if that's what you need. It's hard to pay for coaching, it's hard to pay for therapy. But it's harder to keep trying to figure it out on your own. And it's harder to feel lost, and lonely, and confused, and worried that you're doing it wrong. And it's harder to keep spinning because you're trying to do it by yourself.
This is a big realization I had when I hired my first coach. Now I pay for coaching and it’s so easy and I don't have to think about it hardly at all because I know how much it benefits my life. And I always get a return from whatever I pay for coaching or therapy with, I always get way more out of it than I pay for with it.
But the first time you do that, it can be hard. And it can be scary. But maybe it's harder to keep trying to do it by yourself to keep admitting that you don't need help. I mean we can apply this principle to all sorts of things. It's hard to change my diet habits. But it's harder to live with less energy, and deal with the side effects of putting too much junk in my body. It's hard to love my body exactly how it is. But it's harder to hate my body and to not accept my body.
It's hard to work out regularly. But it's harder to feel icky and sluggish and slow because I'm not moving my body. It's hard to go learn skills that will make me valuable in the workforce. But it's harder to continue to under earn and to stay in a job that I hate. It's hard to change. But it's harder to stay where I'm at. It's hard to stop buffering. But it's harder to escape my emotions and to escape my life.
So many of us use it's hard as an excuse to not do things. And what I want to offer to you today is that whatever you do is going to be hard. Like that's just part of being here it's just part of life, right? No matter what, something is going to be hard, something's going to be difficult. So let's choose a difficult, let's choose a hard that gets us where we want to be.
This is why I want to encourage you as you're making decisions with your life and how to move forward, as you're making decisions with your urges, as you're making decisions with whatever it is, look to what you truly want and ask yourself, what do I need to do to get what I really want? Instead of is this going to be hard? Is this going to take too much energy? Is this going to take too much effort?
And then use this tool, like yeah, it might be hard to process this urge. But it's harder to continue to give into my urges, right? I want to illustrate in your mind, again, this river of misery. Remember, the river of misery is what I call this period of time that you have to go through in order to quit porn, right? When you say, “Okay, I'm ready to quit porn” we want it to be exciting, and easy, and we're super motivated, and we're going to do it, and it's going to be awesome, and we're going to feel so good.
But the reality and the truth is that when you say, “Okay, I'm going to quit porn,” you're jumping into this river of misery. And it's not easy, and it's not fun, and you're not motivated all the time. And it's a river of misery. But on the other side, you're out and you're good. You've quit porn, you've made it through the river of misery.
Now, the alternative to jumping in that river of misery is to hang out in the pond of misery. And I want you to think about the difference between a river and a pond, right? A river might feel a little bit more fast, might feel a little bit more intense, but it's clean and the water is moving through it.
A pond is gross, and dirty, and scummy. And you stay there, and you don't move. A river will move you through it, you'll get to the other side. The pond is staying stuck. And again, that feeling that you feel when you spend a lot of time buffering where you just feel icky, and stuck, and gross, and like kind of scummy, this is the pond of misery.
Another way to think about this is that concept of clean pain versus dirty pain. There's all the clean pain, and the clean difficult experiences of quitting pornography and processing through your urges and doing whatever you need to do to learn these skills, right?
And then there's the dirty pain of not doing it and sitting with it. And staying stuck in your beliefs about yourself that feel horrible. And working through shame, and guilt, and all these things that you're just staying stuck in because you're not processing your urges.
Like I said, either one is going to be a little bit miserable. So what miserable do we want to choose? I loved, I got a message from a client recently who said, “Hey, I processed my first 50 urges, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. But I feel so good.”
And he said, “It was so hard too because I was having all this emotion in my life come up. And as soon as I stopped using porn as an escape, I noticed all these feelings in my life and all these things that I didn't like about my life that I was trying to escape. And it was hard, but I feel so freaking good.” Compared to before, when he was just trying to escape everything, buffering away everything. He feels icky and he feels stuck.
I also just got a message from a client who said, “Hey, I wanted to let you know, I just passed my 25 urge milestone. This has been a life-changing experience for me so far. Since you have taught me how to process my urges, I have become a new man. I am no longer afraid of the unknown. And for the first time in my life, I'm starting to have those first seeds of self-confidence that no matter how bad the urge may feel, I have the courage and the tranquility to sit with it and not give in.”
And this is what's on that other side of that river of misery, you guys, is confidence and belief, self-belief that you can sit with anything and that you trust yourself. He continues and he says, “I'm so grateful that you've taken away the fear of urges in my heart. Thank you for all of your coaching. My next milestone is 50 urges.”
And again, I want to make sure that as we're taking this concept and using it in our lives, that we're not using it from a place of, “Oh, yeah, I suck.” I'm the worst and I have been sitting in the pond of misery, and what's wrong with me? And I just need to get my act together, right? I'm doing things that are harder. I'm lying to myself about it being easy, right? I don't want us to go there.
Instead, let's take some energy that's like worthiness, and desire, and I am worthy of doing this hard thing. And I am worthy of quitting porn. And I'm worthy of this life that I want and of this confidence that I want. I'm worthy of getting the help that I need. I'm worthy to really give my all and jump into this river of misery. And if you feel a little bit of hesitation, that's okay too. I'm usually hesitant before I make a plunge or make a jump, but I'm always grateful that I do.
And if you want help, I want to invite you to come and join Overcome Pornography For Good. You heard some of my clients talk about their milestones, their 25 urges, their 100 urges, that’s something we do in the program. Specific videos, and worksheets, and exercises that I have you do to learn this skill of processing the urges.
And then when you learn how to do that and you have all this other stuff come up, I'm there to help you and walk you through and coach you when you're trying to work through the limiting beliefs and the stuff your brain is going to tell you.
You get lifetime access to the program, including lifetime access to weekly coaching calls with me. All right? If you're ready for that, you can go to sarabrewer.com/workwithme. All right, you guys, have a great week. We'll talk to you next week. Bye bye.
I want to invite you to come and listen to my free training called How to Quit Viewing Pornography Even if You've Tried in the Past. If you like the podcast, you will love this free training. We talk about, number one, how to not rely on willpower or phone filters so that you can actually stop wanting pornography.
Number two, how to guarantee that you won't fail no matter how many times you've tried in the past. And number three, how to feel good about yourself while becoming someone who doesn't struggle with pornography. You can access this training at sarabrewer.com/masterclass.