Many of my clients go through a cycle of experiencing extreme highs and lows in their emotions when it comes to quitting viewing pornography. They might feel on top of the world a week, a month, or two months into quitting, but then slip up, and inevitably fall into a spiral of feeling terrible about themselves.
The key here is making the process lighter. To do that, we need to neutralize your porn habit. This means that instead of being on the rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows, we have to keep our emotions as close to neutral as possible because this is what will make quitting easier, quicker, and more effective.
Listen in this week to discover the power of neutralizing your unwanted porn habit. I’m showing you why you can’t quit long-term from a place of indulging in dramatic, intense emotions, and how to generate emotions that will help you sustain not only quitting porn, but any habit you want to create in your life.
You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 77, Neutralize.
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. Today I want to talk about neutralizing and why neutralizing our porn habit, or looking at porn, or the facts around pornography or any of that, why neutralizing that is a really amazing tool to quit using porn. And why neutralizing it will help you quit porn easier and quit it faster.
So the more neutral that we can make our circumstances, the less drama that we have around our circumstances, the easier it is to make changes. And the reason for this is that, if you remember I've talked about this in the podcast before, is that our feelings create our actions, and our feelings drive our actions. And so you are going to have different actions from a place of happiness, than from a place of sadness.
And if you're feeling sad, but you're trying to take actions like you would if you were happy, it's not going to be the same action, you're not going to be able to take it for very long, you're going to burn out, right? That's why so many of us, we try to quit viewing porn from a place of discouragement, and the action that you're taking isn't driven by the discouragement, right?
So you're trying to be upbeat and you're trying really hard to just quit and to muscle your way through quitting. But the main emotion is discouragement, you're going to burn out really quickly, you're not going to be able to quit.
So many people focus on just the action, to quit porn I have to do this and this and this and this and this. What we need to do is we need to look at the emotion driving the action. Because if the emotion isn't matching up, the action isn't ever going to be sustainable, ever. And this is true for everything. If you haven't heard this before, I hope that blows your mind and I hope you really think about that.
How many of us were like, “I'm going to wake up early, I'm going to start exercising, I'm going to do all these things.” And we focus only on the action, but we're not focusing on the emotion that we need that will help us sustain that action. And so if you can focus on generating emotion that will more naturally bring that action, you'll be able to create action so much easier and create change so much easier.
So back to neutralizing, remember these feelings drive our actions. And so we want to, a lot of us have really, really high highs. And those really, really high highs, we're like, “Yes, I've gone 30 days! Yes, I've gone 60 days! Yes, yes, yes!” And then you slip up and it's a really, really low low. It's like the higher the highs, the lower the lows. I want you to think of a graph, like really high highs, really low lows.
And so we want to get out of this cycle of the big highs and the big lows and keep things a little bit more neutral. And that doesn't mean we're never having emotion about it, but keeping the emotion a little bit closer to the neutral line as possible. When we have these really high highs and these really low lows, it's hard to keep sustained action and the really low lows, we stay in those for a lot longer. So the more neutral we can keep things, the easier it is to keep going.
So a great example of this is body and losing weight or trying to change your body. If your main emotion for your body is disgust, trying to lose weight or make changes from this emotion of disgust isn't going to work long term.
Maybe you'll be able to get yourself out of bed to work out for a couple of weeks, but then you lose it. Maybe you're able to lose a little bit of weight, but then it all comes back because you can't sustain that action because you're feeling disgust for yourself. You're trying to change from a place of I don't like myself.
That is one of the biggest lies in our society, is that we have to dislike ourselves in order to change. No, that doesn't work. It doesn't work. I had a client recently who I was coaching, and he wanted help with motivation. And he said, “I just need some help with commitment and motivation. And I'm trying to stay committed, but I'm having a hard time staying committed.”
And as we talked through it, what we realized is that his main emotion around quitting porn was stress and shame and I'm not good enough. And so he's trying to generate commitment, he's trying to be like, “Okay, here's how I'm going to be more committed. Here's how I'm going to get more commitment. I'm going to come up with a better reason to quit porn, I'm going to be more committed.” But that's never going to work if the emotion behind it is I'm not good enough and stress and shame.
And so this is a great example of where we had to look at that emotion first, in order to create the commitment that he wanted. We've got to get rid of and start challenging all this shame in order to get the commitment that he wanted. It’s like he's trying to avoid the shame and just be like, “If I can just get enough commitment and motivation to quit porn, then I won't feel shame because I'll be able to quit.”
No, we have to look at the shame first, and then the commitment comes. And just like a body, right? You're not going to be able to be committed for very long if your main emotion, if you're waking up every day feeling disgust about yourself. It's going to be very easy to fall into a spiral. So this shame and even stress or discouragement, whatever, those emotions are not as useful emotions as hope and confidence and commitment and enoughness.
And sometimes it's hard to get to those emotions, so what we can start by doing is we can start by just making it a little bit more neutral. So instead of this is the worst thing ever, I slipped up, I have to tell someone, I feel horrible. The more neutral we can make those slip ups, the easier it is to quit porn. And this is different than what we've been taught, right?
So many people think that you need the stress, and you need the shame in order to quit porn and in order to make it a big enough priority, right? You need to be told that you're addicted so that you make it a priority to quit. You need to be told that your life is going to be ruined if you don't quit porn so that you actually quit.
This is the argument that I hear sometimes, but that's just not how humans work. It's not how brains work. And you know that's true, because it's not working for you if you're listening to this podcast. Like I said, maybe sometimes, and you've probably experienced this where you were able to quit for a little bit, for a short term from those emotions, but it is not a long term solution. And you're probably at the point now where it's not even a short term solution either.
So if that's not working for you, and for most of you listening it doesn't work. And I tried to explain why, it's because the emotion are not generating action that will actually help us sustain the results that we want. That's why, it's because those emotions don't ever generate the action that you need to actually quit.
And I am focused and deeply committed to helping you all get the best results possible when it comes to quitting porn. And so if the best results possible, right, if we're looking at the brain and the model, the CTFAR model, and how our brains work and how habit reformation takes place, right? We're looking at that and it's very clear and very obvious that fear, shame, discouragement, really low emotions do not actually help you quit ever.
And what I see over and over and over and over and over again, is that the best results come from the best actions. And the best actions come from better emotions, and even more neutral emotions, not such high highs and low lows.
So one question for you to think on and even journal on is, what is my main emotion around quitting porn? When I think about quitting porn, what are my main emotions? Is it stress? Is it shame? Is it fear? Is it discouragement? Is it hopeless? What is that main emotion? And then really think about that.
Think about that. All of my action is being driven by hopelessness, and shame, and fear, and discouragement, or whatever that main emotion is. Think about the actions that come from that emotion. And notice, it'll be very clear to you why you haven't been able to quit yet.
You'll be like, “Oh, that makes sense. It's not because there's something wrong with me, it's because my main emotion around it is keeping me doing these actions, keeping me hiding, it's keeping me stuck, it's keeping me in these shame cycles, it's keeping me, like I'm trying to do things out of willpower because I'm just feeling so crappy.”
It'll make so much sense to you. And then you can ask yourself, what emotion do I want my main emotion around quitting porn to be? And that's where you have power. And that's where you have choices. And that's where you can start. And that's the best place to start.
If you can change that main emotion around quitting porn from discouragement and shame and fear, I promise that's like one of the most important things you can do. Not one of, probably the most important thing you can do. And it is the step that will get you the best results the very fastest.
So for many of us, that starts just by neutralizing, neutralizing our porn use. So instead of every single time that we slip up it's a huge deal and we're starting back at day one, right, looking at it like it's data points instead.
I recently saw an example of this with weight loss, someone trying to lose weight. And every day they would weigh themselves and what the graph looked like is it looked like a whole bunch of dots up and down, up, and down, but the general trend was down. So over time the general trend was down, even though days here or there it was like maybe you're up a pound, or up two pounds, or down two pounds.
And what we learn with weight loss is that when you make those, oh, I'm up two pounds today, when you make that a big deal and when it's not neutral, that's when you self-sabotage, that's when you give up. And that is what creates this weight loss experience, makes it so difficult and so hard, is when those data points have a lot of emotion behind them.
But when you can make it neutral, okay, I was up two pounds today, period. Maybe I had a bunch of sodium yesterday or whatever, maybe I’m a little bloated or whatever. Instead of making it mean something about you, you just look at it as data points and then you see this general trend over time if you stay consistent to your goals, right? And so you see this general trend of going down.
And that's what we want to think of our slip ups. We want to keep them neutral, as neutral as possible, look at them like data points. For those of you in the program, that's what our learn and move on milestone is all about. So make sure you go check that out. And being committed to the long term and not making everything so high or so low.
A great question for you to ask yourself is how can this be more light? How can this process be more neutral and more light? And even if this feels good to you, even more fun? How can this even be fun? How could quitting porn be fun? How could this be lighter? How could this be beautiful? How could this be easier? How could this not be so high and low?
The thing is, is that porn use is a circumstance, which means that it's not good or bad until we have thoughts about it. People have all different types of emotions and thoughts and feelings about porn use, right? Some people think it's not a big deal. Some people think it's a really big deal. Some people feel neutral about it. Some people feel really horrible about it. Some people feel great about it, right?
You get to decide how you think and feel about porn as your circumstance. And what I'm offering to you is to make sure that you're thinking about your porn use in a way that is serving you. And you might think you need to feel really bad about it in order to quit, but what I'm telling you is that that's not how our brains work. And you will stay stuck in porn if you keep making it such a big deal.
And this is not justification, right? A lot of us are like, “Well, if I don't feel horrible about it, then I'm just justifying it.” No, this is not what I'm talking about. Justification is like the whole other side of the spectrum. Justification is, oh, it doesn't matter if I look, and just one more time, and no one's going to know, right? That's not what I'm talking about.
What I'm talking about is when we do have slip ups and when we're working on quitting, neutralizing it a little bit so that we're not in such low lows and such high highs. Remember, there's shame on one side of the spectrum and justification on the other side of the spectrum, and in the middle is where we want to be.
And so I even want you to think about this with the high highs and the low lows. Instead of being on those highs and lows, we want to be here in the middle. In the middle of the justification and shame side there's committed, and worthiness, and hope, and confidence, and neutrality.
And you will be amazed at the more neutral that you can make your porn habit. The more you can think about it in a neutral light, the easier it will be to quit because you will be able to access emotion that will help you take action to quit when you're in a more neutral space.
When you're in a really low space, in a really high space, your emotions are kind of all over the place. And remember, you can't quit porn long term from these really dramatic, intense emotions. So we want to neutralize it as much as possible.
If you are having a hard time with this, you're like, well, I think that there's, like if I neutralize it then I'm doing it wrong, or I'm thinking about it wrong, or God's going to be mad at me. I really want you to keep the result in mind and make the result your priority and the result your focus, especially if there's some like fear around God here, right?
God cares way more about the results that you see, than the specific ways that you think about porn or the specific shame or guilt that you feel about it, right? He doesn't care as much that you feel guilt and shame. What he cares more about are the results that you have in your life. At least that's what I think. And, actually, I think God cares less about our results and more just about our growth, to be honest.
But if that helps you to think about it that way, let's think about the results, let's prioritize the results. And what that's going to mean is it's going to mean you've got to try something different. You've got to be willing to get out of those high highs and those low lows.
And even if it's just a test, even if you just tell yourself for the next three months or six months I'm just going to practice neutralizing this and just see what happens. See what happens when I neutralize it and focus on the result more than you focus on, I have to feel guilty about this. That’s going to get you so much further.
All right, you guys, have a great week and 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.