Something I hear from so many of my clients when it comes to looking at pornography is “I can’t.” They tell themselves they can’t look at porn, but the energy behind it suggests they would if they could. This might even sound familiar to you.
Telling yourself “I can’t” might be innocent and it may work for some of you, but such restrictive energy could be hindering your progress. You are an adult, and you can do whatever you want, but there is a better option to choose to think than “I can’t” when you want to stop doing something.
In this episode, I’m sharing the problem with thinking “I can’t” and showing you how to reframe your mindset to feel more empowered. If you’re having a hard time committing to giving up pornography, looking at your beliefs is a great place to start. So this week, I’m showing you how to challenge your thoughts and beliefs and replace them with ones that serve you better.
You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 32, I can’t.
Welcome to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast, the show that will teach you 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 coach and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Hey, everyone, welcome to the podcast this week. I'm so glad that you are here. And I'm excited to talk about this topic, I can't. This is something I hear often from my clients. I'll explain what I mean, it might not be exactly what you're thinking it means. So give me a second here and we'll dive into it.
But before we do that, I just want to share a review that one of you left for me here on Apple Podcasts. It says, “I am 20 years old and have been in the fight. I guess you could say that I've been struggling against pornography for more than half of my life. I've only been listening to this for about two weeks, and it's changed my life forever. I'm actually finding myself actually enjoying life and being happy.
This is a new way of thinking and scared me at first because I've always been taught just one way. I love this podcast and what it's doing. I will be here forever to support you, Sarah. Thanks so much, It's changed my life. I totally recommend this.”
Thank you so much for this awesome, awesome review. You guys, I really appreciate it. I just wanted to point out one thing that he says here, he says, “This is a new way of thinking and scared me at first.” Oh my goodness, right?
It's a totally new way of thinking and I remember when I was learning a lot of these skills and concepts, it hit me like truth. Like you know that moment where you hear truth and you're like, “Oh my gosh, of course. Of course that's true I've always known that, but this is just a way for me to hear it in words. It's something I've always known.”
Sometimes that happens and sometimes it feels a little bit scary. Sometimes it's like, “Wait, this isn't how I'm used to thinking.” It might be a little bit scary. So if that's you, I just want to say stick with it if it feels good, stick with it if it helps you and just try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose here.
And then one other podcast review that I got, it said, “Beyond motivation. I started listening to this podcast to support my husband. It has been so beneficial for him in overcoming his porn habit. But wow, I had no idea how much it would benefit me.
Sara makes me feel like I can do anything. I don't have a porn habit to break, but I have plenty of other habits I need to quit and goals I want to achieve. The way Sara approaches quitting a porn habit can be applied to any goal as she makes you realize that everything is within your reach.”
And this is something, you guys, first off, thank you so much for that review. You guys, it helps me so much when you leave reviews. So if you haven't done that yet, if you've been listening, if you haven't left a review yet, I would really appreciate it if you go and leave a review on your Apple Podcast app. It takes just a minute and it's just the best. I love you guys so much for doing this for me. So thank you.
And that's something that I hear often is like, this is not just about pornography. Everyone should listen to this because it's helpful with whatever habit they're trying to quit. And yeah, that's true, it's totally true. And in fact, I just had a client this last week saying, “I think I'm starting to understand why you say that this is about so much more than pornography. This literally applies to anything, anything that I'm trying to accomplish in my life.”
So again, thank you so much, you guys. I really appreciate it. Let's get to the topic today, which is I can't. I hear this a lot. And especially I hear it in this form of like, “I can't look at porn. I'm not supposed to look at porn. I shouldn't it's bad. I can't do it. I'm not allowed to do it. I just can't. I can't look at porn.”
And I always, whenever I here this from my clients, I always want to pause and explore it. This is what usually happens, is you have an urge to go and look at pornography, or you have the thought, “Hey, today would be a good day to go and look up that one thing. Remember, we're going to have some opportunity here, you should go look that up.” And immediately you shut it down. You think, “No, I can't.”
And let's just explore that like, no, I can't. Because it sounds good, it sounds helpful. It sounds like the righteous thing to do. But let's just think about the energy behind that. I can't, the energy behind that is like, “I can't. I want to. I want to but I can't. I can't, someone told me that I shouldn't. But I could if I would, but I can't.”
Like a little kid who wants to go to the movies and his friends pestered him to go to the movies, and they go and ask their mom and their mom says no. And so they come back, and they say, “Sorry, I can't. Mom said no.” Or sometimes people talk this way when they're on a diet, right? “Oh, I can't have that. I'm not allowed to have that.” And the energy behind that, do you see it's kind of like I want to, but someone is telling me that I can't? Like, “Dang it, I can't.”
And I'm just curious, do you notice this for yourself when it comes to pornography? Do you notice yourself being like, “I can't.” And the energy behind it is like, “Dang it. I wish I could, but I can't.” Your brain says, “Hey, let's go explore that website again.” You’re like, “No, I can't do that.” Or “Hey, let's go read that junk mail. Sometimes we find stuff in that junk mail.” And your brain is like, “No, I can't do that. Remember, it's bad.”
And it seems really innocent. It seems good. And it might work for some of you. But there's also a better option here. There's a better option here. And I'm not saying you know, we should just say I can. I can't or I can,
there's other options here.
But before I dive into those other options, I want to dive into why I can't doesn't work long term. So first off, is that it's a lie. You can. You can totally go and view pornography if you want to. You're an adult, you can do whatever you want as an adult. Okay?
It is an option. It's an option for you to go look at pornography. I can't is a lie, you can. You can do whatever you want, that's the purpose of agency.
And isn't it interesting too, right, when we have this I can't energy, that little part of us that wants to rebel and just wants what it wants always tends to pipe up? “Yes, you can. Hey, I can do whatever I want.” That happens often when we have this I can't energy.
And then the other reason that I can't doesn't work long term is because it's really wishy washy energy. It's not firm. It's like, “No, I can't.” Think about that kid who wants to go to the movies and says, “No, I can't.” But their friends push them. They say, “Hey, but we can sneak out. No one will know.” Or “Hey, ask your parents again. Let's all go ask them together. And if they say no, that's okay, we'll just sneak out.”
You're going to be way more likely to give in with this I can't energy. Like I want to, but I can't. Or it's this willpower energy too, right? Go away, go away, go away, push away. I can't, push down. I can't, willpower.
Remember, willpower doesn't work when it comes to quitting porn. And think about this with food. If any of you have experienced this with food, you’re like, “No, I can't have sugar.” Push down, willpower. Your brain says, “What? Why? Yes, you can. One bite won't hurt. Just this once, you'll be fine. Try again tomorrow. You can have 16 cookies. It's not a big deal. Try again tomorrow.”
I can't is willpower, it's pushing it down, it's resisting it. What happens when we push it down and we resist it? It just pops up and it gets harder to resist. Because willpower is finite. We only have a certain amount of willpower, and you just can't get enough willpower to quit porn.
Listen, this is really important for those of you who are still trying to use willpower to quit porn, you can't get enough of it to actually quit. And I've talked about this a lot in the podcast already so I'm not going to dive into that right now. But I can't is just another form of willpower energy. And again, it's not either I can't or yeah, I'm going to do whatever I want. There's a middle ground here.
So I want you to try out instead of I can't, I can't do that, I can't go look at porn. I want you to try, I'm choosing not to. Instead of I can't have that, I'm choosing not to have that. Do you see how much more powerful that is? Do you see how much more empowering that is? I'm choosing not to instead of I can't.
So your brain says, “Hey, we should go search that thing again.” You’re like, “No, I'm choosing not to do that.” And again, do you see how much more powerful that is than I can't? Hey, we should go search that thing again. No, I can't, instead of no, I'm choosing not to. Or let's go watch some porn. No, I'm choosing not to today, instead of no we can't.
And imagine again with sugar. Hey, we should go have some sugar. I can't or no, I'm choosing not to today, but thanks brain. This I'm choosing not to mentality; it requires more responsibility, and it requires more resolve. I'm choosing not to is not wishy washy and it's much more powerful.
And the truth is, is that you can do whatever you want because you're an adult. So stop saying I can't view porn because you can. What are you choosing to do? Say that instead. No, I'm choosing not to today. I can do whatever I want. But I'm choosing this life for me. I'm choosing to not view porn today.
And if you can't get to the point where you're like, “I'm choosing to never view porn again.” That's kind of like a really big step that you might not be able to get to, and that's fine. Just decide for that day. I'm choosing not to today.
And this is so interesting and fascinating too, because if you notice that it's a hard thing to say, “I'm choosing not to.” If you have a really hard time saying, “I'm choosing not to,” or you say it to yourself, but you don't really feel it, “No, I'm choosing not to,” but you know you're lying to yourself a little bit. That just shows us some stuff to explore. It's not a problem.
It's not a problem if you're not committed enough to say I'm choosing not to. It just gives us some data in some direction on what we can look at and what we can explore.
And this is where we coach a lot in the program. In my program, Overcome Pornography For Good, clients come and they're having a hard time choosing not to view porn. That's totally okay. Why? We get really curious, and we dive into why that is personally for you. And I have a whole commitment workshop on that and it's something that we coach on.
Something that I find is that when people have a hard time saying I'm choosing not to or making that choice, it's because of their beliefs that they have about themselves. Their beliefs that they have about the world. Their beliefs that they have about pornography.
And really quickly, just take a little detour here, do you guys remember that definition of repentance? I think it's in preach my gospel. The definition is to change your beliefs about the world and about yourself. Listen, repentance is change and you don't just change by saying you're going to change and changing your actions. You change by changing your beliefs.
And so if you're having a hard time committing and saying, “Hey, I'm choosing not to do this,” maybe your belief is that you're not strong enough to not do it. Maybe your belief is that you're going to really miss out on a lot of pleasure in your life. And you want that pleasure in your life and it's hard for you to give that up.
Maybe you have beliefs about yourself and your ability to choose when it comes to sexual urges. Maybe, and this one comes up often, it's like, yeah, my ideal life doesn't include pornography. But I don't think I'm worthy of that ideal life, or I don't even think I'm good enough to even get that ideal life.
Okay, that's where we can really dive into the deep stuff and really start to change those beliefs about ourselves, about the world about pornography, about sexuality, so that you can have the result of quitting pornography.
Okay, you guys, quitting porn is about so much more than just not looking at porn. It's about learning how to change your thoughts and your beliefs and your identity. It's about learning how to show up in a powerful way. I'm choosing this, I'm choosing this for my life. Instead of, “Hey, my Bishop told me I can't,” or “I was always told that I can't.”
That is never going to get you where you need to be to quit porn, this I can't energy. Instead, what do you choose? What do you want with your life? And guess what? You get to decide what that is, and you get to make it happen. You're powerful enough to make that happen. But only if you're radiating that responsibility and that resolve and that powerful energy of I'm choosing. I'm choosing not to.
Okay, you guys, so no more, “I can't.” I don't want anyone to tell me, “Well, I just can't. I'm just not supposed to look at pornography again.” I want you guys to tell me, “No, I'm choosing not to.” And if you're not choosing not to, why not? That's okay, that's fine. No shame. But why not? And let's dive into that.
All right, you guys, have a great week. We'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.