Loneliness is something that comes up for a lot of my clients as a reason for viewing porn. They feel lonely, and they want to escape it. So, if your brain is filled with thoughts of being alone forever, that you’re not enough for someone else, and you feel shame and self-pity around these thoughts, this episode is for you.
The truth is it’s possible to feel lonely and still have more productive thoughts about your situation. Loneliness isn’t fun, but so many people make it harder for themselves by thinking thoughts that only serve to make them feel even worse. So, in this episode, I’m showing you how to change the story around your loneliness, so you don’t need to turn to pornography for company.
Tune in this week to discover how the feeling of loneliness contributes to a pornography habit. I’m sharing the impact of the thoughts you have around your loneliness, how to recognize these thoughts when they come up, and I’m showing you how to change the narrative that your loneliness is something that needs a quick and temporary fix.
You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 82, Loneliness.
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. So glad you're here. There might be a little bit of background noise today, I have my kids at home. They're usually gone when I'm recording, but they're here and the neighbor kids are over. So it's a little extra loud downstairs, hopefully it doesn't come through the mic. And if it does, enjoy.
Well, before we dive into our content today I did want to share a few ratings and interviews that I got from you guys that are just so awesome. And I really want to shout them out and say thank you, thank you, thank you. It helps me a lot to get my show out to people who need it. And I read every one that comes through, so thank you so much.
This one is called no longer addicted. And I'm going to skip here to the middle/end because I love this part. It says, “This morning I am listening to your episode on automatic sexual thoughts, and I believe I am on the back end of learning the right perspective to have towards thoughts that enter my head.
One thing that helped me was when I had the desire to view porn, I stopped telling myself I don't want this when it was clear I did. And instead started telling myself I want more than this. I want more than porn can give me. And then my mind dwells on what I really want out of life and relationships.”
Yes, yes, yes, yes. I read that and I was like, yes, I have to share that, that's so good. Yeah, right, I think I've talked about this on the podcast before, we have those parts of us, we have that part of us that wants it, and we don't have to be angry at it. We don't have to ignore it, we don't have to pretend it's not there or try to talk it out of ourselves.
You can just notice it but then recognize there's also a part of you that doesn't want porn. And there's a part of you, like this person says, that wants more than this. And we can listen to that part while letting the part of you that wants it exist simultaneously at the same time. And that's such a powerful, beautiful place to get.
So I loved that, I wanted to share that. And then this other one says, “ACT and coaching is golden.” They say, “I've loved listening to Sara and learning about where I have historically made unhelpful meaning around my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Her coaching style and implementation of acceptance and commitment therapy principles have been so helpful. One more piece of the puzzle to help me have true recovery and a fulfilled life. Start at episode one and just binge. So worth the time.”
Thank you so much, I really appreciate that and love it. Yeah, we're getting to the point where there are a lot of podcast episodes. We're in the 80s, can you even believe that? I'm having a hard time believing that. I've been doing this every week for almost two years. What? So fun.
But anyways, people will ask me, where do I start? And I usually typically recommend start with the first three, or maybe the first four, and then whatever one stand out to you. But I've also heard from many listeners, just listen to them all.
And if you are the kind of person who likes to binge content, you can listen to them all. I make them all, they're all under 30 minutes, sometimes under 20 minutes, between 20, 30 minutes, usually. So not too long. If you listen to them on 2x speed, you can get through them pretty quick and learn a lot in this short amount of time.
So anyways, thank you so much. Anyways, I don't read every single one that comes in, but maybe I should do a podcast episode where I just read ratings and reviews. Wouldn't that be fun to listen to? That is a joke, obviously, because you would probably not want to listen to half an hour of that. But thank you so much, those of you who have left a review.
If you haven't yet, I would love it if you would go and take just a minute to do that. You can just scroll to the bottom of the app, and this is with Apple Podcasts. I think you could do it on Spotify, but I mostly see these on Apple. You can just scroll to the bottom and type it in really quick and it's super simple. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love y'all. I love you all.
Let's dive into our content today, which is loneliness. So fun, I get to talk about being lonely. And nothing better to talk about than feeling lonely, right? Okay, loneliness. So this is something that typically comes up for people. I’m like, why do you view porn? Because I'm lonely. What are you trying to escape? Loneliness. And so I wanted to dedicate a whole podcast episode to this emotion.
So the first thing loneliness, I think it's important to recognize that there is clean pain and there is dirty pain. Clean pain is pain that moves us forward, is pain that is healing, is pain that isn't really avoidable. It’s pain that we're supposed to feel as a part of the human experience. And then there's dirty pain. And dirty pain, well, it's dirtier and it's ickier. And it's typically when you're mean to yourself, full of shame. It's pain that doesn't necessarily get us anywhere and can keep us really stuck.
So dirty pain with loneliness, in regards to loneliness might sound like, no one will ever love me. I'm going to be alone forever. I'm not enough and will never be enough for someone. It's like a lot of shame, some self-pity. Can you feel the difference?
Whereas the clean loneliness might sound something like I'm lonely today. I'm grieving the loss of someone. I'm grieving the loss of what I thought I would have by now. I'm sad. I don't want to be alone right now. This is really hard. I don't like this. Can you feel the difference?
Dirty loneliness is like very self-deprecating, and then the clean loneliness is difficult and not that fun to go through, but it's cleaner. So with the dirty pain, with the dirty loneliness, that's a funny term, that dirty loneliness. That's where we want to use thought work.
That's where we want to look into changing the voice that is talking to ourselves, changing the story that we have about ourselves. No one's ever going to love me. I'm going to be alone forever. I'm not enough and never will be enough. That's a story that is harmful, that you can start to change. Those are optional thoughts so they're optional stories. And we can do some really beautiful work around that so that that dirty pain goes away.
So a few things about doing this and changing these beliefs is what I want you to remember is that your beliefs are just thoughts that you have over and over and over again. So in order to change beliefs that you have, you want to think new thoughts over and over and over and over again.
So the only reason you believe no one will ever love you is because you’ve thought that over and over and over and over again. Maybe you've had experiences, you've had some conditioning, you've had things that have happened in your life that has started those thoughts. And then you keep having them over and over and over and over again. But you can change that story.
You can change that narrative. First, by recognizing that the way that you change that is just by thinking new thoughts over and over and over and over again. It can be that simple. Second, how we change that narrative is we recognize what is fact and what is thought. Now, I have a podcast episode dedicated to this specifically called facts versus thoughts.
But the fact in your life might be that you are single. You're not married, you don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend, you're single. Now, the story you might have about that is no one will ever love me, I'm never good enough, I'm going to be alone forever.
That's the story, that's not fact. You can't go to court and prove that. You can go to court and prove that you're not married, right? That's pretty easy. But you can't go to court and prove that no one will ever love you, that you're going to be alone forever, that you're not enough, and that you’re never going to be enough for anyone, right? That's the story. That's the optional part.
And so you can start to loosen that up. The reason that you have that story, it's this idea of lenses. You might have heard me talk about this before, but you see the world through the lenses that you have on.
Have you seen those really colorful glasses, the lenses are pink, or orange, or green, or blue, red, yellow, all these different colors? And you put those lenses on and you see the world, the world is tinted pink if you have the pink glasses on. Or if you put on the orange glasses, the world is tinted orange.
Our beliefs are these glasses that we wear, these lenses. And so if you believe no one will ever love me, you see the world through that lens and you find evidence for it, right? You're like, here's evidence, here's evidence, here's evidence.
But if you're willing to shift those lenses to try on different lenses, I mean, we could think of a couple examples like, I am lovable. I am lovable, I'm a lovable person. The right people are attracted to me. Then you start to see the world through those lenses. I am lovable, you'll find evidence for that. The right people are attracted to me, you'll find evidence for that.
It takes a willingness to think differently about your life, right? Sometimes people are like, “Nope, that's just true. Sorry, Sara, you don't really know me. You don't really know who I am. I just am not lovable. No one's ever going to love me. I'm going to be alone forever. You don't know my life enough.”
If you're willing to say, okay, maybe this is a story, maybe it's possible I could be wrong about that, that's when you can start to change that belief. But you have to be willing to be wrong about yourself. That can be difficult, but worth your time and energy.
So that is our dirty loneliness work. But then there is the clean emotion, the clean pain, the clean loneliness. That looks like just feeling the raw emotion. I'm lonely today, I'm grieving the loss of someone. I'm grieving the loss of what I wish I could have by now. I wish I wasn't alone. I wish I had a spouse. I don't want to be alone right now. I'm sad that this is where I am today.
Now, this emotion, you'll notice will cycle and it'll be 50/50, right? Half the time you'll be fine, and you'll be okay, and you'll like where you're at. And then half of the time you won't love where you're at in life. And so this is for that emotion when it pops up, that 50% negative.
Sometimes when you look at changing our thoughts around loneliness, it can feel like toxic positivity. So you just want to be aware of your body and how your body's feeling because something that's toxic positivity to someone might not be toxic positivity to another person. So you just want to be aware of your body.
But what that toxic positivity might look like is, well just be happy, and at least you're not this, and at least you don't have this. Well, and actually, it's great to be alone and who needs someone? And let's just be happy about this. This is just where we're at in life and we just need to be happy here. When the truth is, is that sometimes it isn't great to be alone. And sometimes you don't like it and you don't want to be alone. And that's okay.
So if you start to notice that toxic positivity coming and trying to change your thoughts and there's resistance there and it just feels icky and it doesn't feel believable. That's a sign that changing thoughts isn't going to work and instead we just need to accept that yeah, we're lonely. And it's hard and I don't like it. It's a bummer.
So what I recommend and what I want to change your mind a little bit here is that it's not a problem to feel lonely. It's not a problem to feel that way. Loneliness is an emotion. Do you remember what I teach about emotion? Emotions are vibrations in your body. Every emotion feels differently in your body.
Think about what your body feels like when it's excited. You feel maybe a little tense when you're excited, you feel jumpy, maybe knots in your stomach when you're excited. Think about what your body feels like when it feels sad. It's a different vibration in your body when you feel sad. And loneliness is that, it’s just that. It is just a vibration in your body. It's not a problem and it's not something that you need to get rid of. Okay?
The reason that you view porn when you feel lonely is because you think that you need to get rid of the loneliness. You need to solve for the loneliness. That's what your brain is telling you. We don't like this feeling, we don't like this vibration, we need to get rid of it. And we know porn gets rid of it for a second. Okay?
And so the key to quitting porn when you're feeling lonely isn't to go and not be lonely. It isn't to go and find someone to be with, that can be helpful, right? I'm not saying don't do that, but that's not going to solve the problem. The key is being okay with feeling lonely, increasing your capability to feel lonely. You can feel lonely and be okay.
And this will completely empower you because you won't be afraid of being lonely anymore because you'll trust yourself that you can feel lonely without reacting by viewing porn or without reacting by whatever it is. Allowing yourself to feel that clean pain of loneliness will give you time and energy to take creative action instead of reactive action.
I hope those words make sense to you because I wrote this outline while I was on a walk and creative versus reactive action, I thought, were such good words to describe this. Examples of reactive action are viewing porn, reacting to it, trying to get rid of it. Overeating, over drinking, calling up that old ex that really you know you don't want to call up or you don't want to text, but you're reacting to loneliness, right?
When you allow yourself to feel it and process it and you don't need it to go away, it allows you to take creative action. This allows you to be in a spot where you can make decisions to make your life better. So maybe in this creative action you decide that you're going to go on a 100 first dates, and you're committing to do a 100 first dates because you want to find that person that you want to be with in your life and you're willing to go on 100 dates to find him.
Maybe that creative action is calling up someone that you care about, and that you can talk to, and that is a healthy person for you. You're able to access that part of you that takes creative action when you're willing to feel the loneliness, instead of just trying to make it go away and taking that reactive action.
We talked about this in my interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife. I love that interview, by the way. I was thinking about it earlier today. If you haven't listened to it, make sure you go and listen to it, it’s so good. But we talked about how our sexual energy is creative energy. And it is energy. Well, we didn't talk about this specifically, this is just something I'm adding. But we have caps on our energy, right? We don't just have an unlimited amount of energy.
And so what we talked about with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife was you get a choice, you get to use that energy to masturbate and view porn and the sexual energy for those things, or you can use that energy to be creative and to build yourself and to create a self that you love and that is your best self.
And so especially with those of us who are feeling lonely, and view porn out of loneliness, you can use that energy to escape the loneliness, or you can use that energy to create your best self that is attracting the person that you want to be with, right? You attract people who are like you, that is just true.
And so you want to become the person that you want to attract. Let's use our energy, and our time, and our resources to become someone that is like the person that we want to be with, okay? So I hope that gives you some good epiphanies around loneliness.
Let’s do a quick recap, there's that clean versus dirty pain. Dirty pain is usually self-deprecating, these stories about your life that aren't serving you. Maybe it feels like self-pity or shame. No one will ever love me, I'm going to be alone forever, I'm not enough and will never be enough for someone, that is work that we can do thought work on.
We can change the story, change the narrative. We do that in coaching all the time, by the way. So those of you who are in the program, bring that to the Ask A Coach board or bring it to a coaching call and we can work through that together.
Then there's the clean pain, which is grieving. I'm grieving the loss of someone. I'm grieving the life that I wish I had. I wish I wasn't alone right now. I don't want to be alone right now. I'm feeling lonely. That pain, you'll notice if your body is really resisting changing thoughts to that, and instead we just want to feel it and let go of the resistance and remind ourselves it's okay.
It's okay for me to feel lonely. Yeah, I’m lonely and it's okay. It isn't a problem to feel this way, and relax into it. I'm lonely, it doesn't feel great, but that's okay. This empowers you to take creative action instead of reactive action. When we take creative action, we create a self that we want to attract in another person, and we create our best lives. That's what I want for all of you.
Okay, that's all I have for you this week. Have a great week, you guys. 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.