Episode 121: Overwhelm

Uncategorized May 08, 2023

Overwhelm is one of those all-encompassing uncomfortable emotions that makes us feel frozen. Quitting porn requires some miserable growth periods, which means overwhelm will naturally be a part of your experience. The good news though is that overwhelm is not a problem, and it’s easier to make progress if you lean into it.

When it comes to quitting porn, sometimes, you might feel overwhelmed by the process and skills you need to learn. You might wonder how you’ll find time to do it all, or where to even begin. Maybe you notice that your porn habit is a result of trying to escape overwhelm altogether. 

To help you navigate your overwhelm, this week, I’m sharing four strategies for breaking the cycle of overwhelm. You’ll hear what typically happens if you resist overwhelm, why you’re not actually at the mercy of this emotion, and the importance of approaching learning new skills with tiny baby steps along the way.


If you’re ready to do this work and start practicing unconditional commitment toward quitting your porn habit, sign up to work with me!


What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • What the feeling of overwhelm will typically lead to.
  • 4 ways to break the cycle of overwhelm.
  • How to ask your body what it needs when you feel overwhelmed.
  • Why we’re not at the mercy of the emotion of overwhelm. 
  • The importance of taking baby steps.


Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 121, Overwhelm.

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 today’s podcast episode. Have you been enjoying the interviews that we’ve been doing? Let’s see, how many of these have been released? I’ve done so many interviews already and we just have a whole bunch for the rest of the year. And I just, oh, it’s so fun and they’re just with such amazing people. I hope you’re really enjoying the ones that we’ve released so far, the What’s Possible ones. 

We have a lot of amazing What’s Possible interviews continuing to come up throughout this year. I love those. Those are just so fun, and so fun to listen to, and so fun to do. And then just with so many experts. We’ve got so many great, great, wonderful, brilliant people who are coming on and sharing their expertise and it’s just been fun. I hope you’re enjoying them as much as I am. 

Today what I want to talk about is overwhelm. But before I dive into that, I’m trying to remember to point you guys towards resources that I have available for you if you’re trying to quit porn. So if you really want to dive in and do the work and apply the things that you’re learning in the podcast, and if you’re just ready to be done, you can always come and join us in Overcome Pornography For Good. 

We don’t have open and closed enrollment dates. It’s just always open because we did that for a little bit at the very beginning when I was first starting my business. We haven’t done it in a while. And then we decided like, why are we doing that? We just need it open for whenever someone’s ready, just come in, we’re here for you. 

And so you can always come in and join us, sarabrewer.com/workwithme. We also have one on one coaching opportunities, which you’ve heard many of these What’s Possible interviews talk about their one on one coaching experiences. And that’s really, really powerful if you really want to make the deepest level of change and dive into all of the stuff. That’s some powerful work there that we have available for you. 

So you can either go and apply for that on that same sarabrewer.com/workwithme page or you will be able to sign up for the waitlist and know when there’s openings for that. 

I also want to just say thank you so much for all the reviews you guys just continue to leave me on this podcast. They are so beautiful and really help the word get out there of the work I’m doing. This most recent one, let me just give a little shout out to. They said, “I will try not to sound like I’m exaggerating for the sake of hype. I’ve been fighting an ongoing porn habit for over 13 years. 

Since I listened to Sara’s Without Willpower webinar and five of these podcasts so far, I’ve had a couple of triggers and urges, but literally I’ve not even considered actually using, as in I do not want it anymore. This whole time my devices have been fully unlocked. What kind of sorcery? 

I’m looking forward to applying more training on how to actually process the emotions and sit with the urges when they inevitably get stronger. No more running away from them and using blockers which have not helped me in the years I’ve used them. Sara, you don’t know how powerful advice has to be in order to get me to have self-control.” 

Thank you so much for leaving me this review, it’s just awesome. I love it. Thank you, thank you. A lot of people will experience this when they first hear these tools, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, just like lightbulb, immediate change.” And then sometimes what happens, and so I want to bring this up in case for those of you listening this has happened where you’re so excited by these tools. They’re really working. 

And then for whatever reason stuff is happening, stuff is coming up and you tend to not use the tools or not know how to use the tools or we’re getting out of that really fun, exciting stage of learning something really life changing. 

If that’s you, nothing’s gone wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. There’s just some work to do and some applications to use. And so that’s a big part of why I have the program, is to help apply these things you’re using. I think you heard in this last recent What’s Possible interview, or maybe it’s the one that’s coming up next month, I can’t remember. 

But what the gentleman said is he said, “There is a difference. If I could tell people stuff, there is a difference between just listening and then actually applying it.” He kept saying like this was hard. And it was good hard and it was good difficult, but it was so much hard work. And so realize and recognize if this isn’t an overnight transformation for you, nothing’s wrong with you. 

It’s not supposed to be, it’s supposed to be hard work. And it’s beautiful hard work, right? It’s difficult to stay in your porn habit, it’s difficult to get out of the porn habit. They’re both difficult, what difficult do we want to choose? Anyways, nothing’s going wrong with you if it’s feeling difficult and it’s feeling hard, even if you had that original like, yes, this is working, this original big transformation. That’s amazing, and there’s work to be done. There’s work to be done. 

So let’s talk about overwhelm. That’s kind of a good lead into overwhelm. It’s a really important emotion for us to talk about because overwhelm will typically lead to buffering very easily. Overwhelm is just, it’s one of those all encompassing emotions that is very easy to buffer with. And so you might be noticing that your porn habit is a result of you trying to escape overwhelm. 

Even just recognizing that is going to be a game changer for you if you’re doing that. Overwhelm is also important because when it comes to quitting porn and the processes and the skills that you need to learn, sometimes we can feel overwhelmed around that. It can be like, “Oh, it’s a lot, how am I ever going to do this? I have to learn all these things, I’m not sure how I’m gonna get this done. I don’t have enough time to get all this done,” whatever. 

This is something that I really focus on in the program and that if you’re in Overcome Pornography For Good you’ll notice that videos are very short. The milestones are set up into tiny little steps. Step, step, step, step, just tiny little steps. We’re trying to decrease the amount of overwhelm and we try to keep things as very, very simple as possible because what happens when you feel overwhelmed is you just, it’s easy to shut down. 

So what I want to remind you about overwhelm is that it is typically created from a thought. Our thoughts create our emotions, and our emotions create our actions. So you might have a thought that’s creating overwhelm, like I don’t know how I’m going to do it all. 

When you think, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it all,” you feel overwhelmed. And when you feel that emotion of overwhelm, the action, it could be all sorts of a number of things, but it’s often freezing. Freezing, getting stuck, not doing the work, not doing anything. 

And it’s not because you’re lazy. This is where a lot of people get into shame. Feeling overwhelmed and freezing and not getting stuff done out of overwhelm is not because you’re lazy. It’s because your nervous system is just a little jacked up in that moment. And so we want to learn how to break this cycle and I’m going to give you a few ways to do this, okay? 

And before I dive into these four things to help you break up porn, one thing I want to mention, too, is sometimes when people hear me talk, like if they attend a free class. I had recently did a free class, if you’ve attended that one, or I’ll go speak to clubs, or I’ll speak to different organizations. And I try to give them as much as possible without trying to overwhelm them. 

But what typically happens is, it’s like a big fire hose of information, right? I’m like, we’ve got an hour here. Here’s all his information, here’s all the things you need to know to quit porn, and at least here’s the basics. And it can feel pretty overwhelming. And so I’m excited to point people to, when I’m doing those classes, point them to this episode so that once they’re feeling that, they can start to get out of the overwhelm. 

So the four things that we can do to get out of this cycle, having a thought, I don’t know how I’m going to do it all, feeling overwhelmed and freezing. The first one is to take care of your body and notice your body and do some body regulation stuff. 

So when you feel overwhelmed, I want you to breathe into it and notice how your body feels. You might notice yourself feeling antsy, anxious, your heart racing, maybe your breath is shallow, maybe your ears are ringing. Just become really mindful about your body, the same way we’re processing urges and processing other emotions that I’ve talked about extensively on the podcast and that we really work on in the program. You’re going to do this with overwhelm, okay? 

Take care of your body. Notice how it’s feeling. Notice the sensations in your body when you feel overwhelmed. For me, overwhelm feels pretty heavy and I feel pretty stuck and frozen in my throat specifically. My throat is typically where I feel a big freeze response, which is kind of interesting. 

And I could go on a whole tangent about this, but especially women, we’ve been conditioned, and there’s a lot of experiences in our ancestry line that have caused us to be silenced. Not really having a voice, even just up until recently have we been able to speak freely and to have our own bank accounts and have a voice in voting. 

So there’s a lot of generational trauma stuff with speaking and being heard. And so it’s really interesting to me that a lot of my freeze response in my body is in my throat. I think that has to do with different gender conditioning and also some generational stuff. But that’s just what I notice in me, is I feel a freeze response in my throat.

So we’re noticing how our body feels and we’re taking care of our bodies too. So asking your body what do you need? It can be exercise, even just a walk. I think we very highly underestimate the power of going on a walk. 

A lot of times when people think of exercise they’re like, “Oh, I have to go on a run.” This is me at least, right? I’m like, “Oh, I hate running. I do not want to go on a run.” Or biking, or I have to really sweat, I’ve got to really pump myself up to go exercise. 

No, it can be as simple as a walk. And actually so many studies, just all the benefits of walking, walking, walking, walking. Beautiful, that can be a beautiful thing to start getting your body out of this cycle of overwhelm. So it could be a walk. It could be food, maybe you need some food. It could be sleep. 

And really ask your body here because sometimes sleep is a buffer and it doesn’t actually help us, it makes us feel worse. But if it’s been in overwhelm and burnout for a long time, maybe it does need a nap. Maybe that is going to be helpful for you. 

So asking your body, what do you need? How can I help you? How can I start to break up this emotion of overwhelm? Tapping, walking, sleep, food, yoga, whatever that might be. So that’s number one. 

Number two is look at your thoughts. Okay, so remember, we’ve got this cycle of overwhelm, thoughts create emotions, emotions create action. So we’re going to work on all of these different parts. Let’s talk about those thoughts, okay? 

So the first step is to be aware of the thoughts that are causing overwhelm and try to just observe yourself. What are you thinking that is creating overwhelm? I have so much to do. I can’t do it all. This is too much. Whatever that is, and just start to observe it. 

Often what you’ll notice is you’re having these thought loops. You’re having these thoughts of overwhelm and they’re on loop. They’re looping around and looping around. It’s like they just can’t stop. This is why that bodywork is so important, asking your body what it needs to start to break up these loops and just moving your body a little bit can help you start to do that. 

So we’re going to start noticing the thoughts. We’re going to start noticing the thought loops. We’re going to notice the thoughts that are causing and creating overwhelm. And then second, we’re going to practice thinking on purpose. 

So as we start to break up these thoughts we’re going to think on purpose and counter those thoughts that are creating overwhelm. So if the thought that’s creating overwhelm for you is, “I can’t do it all,” you’re going to counter that thought with another thought that feels even just a little bit better. 

So this looks like just breathing, and instead thinking on purpose. I can figure this out. I’ve figured things out like this before. I’m more capable than I’m giving myself credit for. There is no rush. I don’t have to do it all right now. I don’t have to rush through this. Everything is okay in this moment right now. I can thrive on B minus work.

This is one of my favorite thoughts that I use often. B minus work gets the job done, and it gets it done well enough that it almost has the same effect as A plus work, really, truly. So that’s one of my thoughts on purpose when I’m feeling overwhelmed, is B minus work. I can do B minus work. Done is better than perfect. That’s another beautiful thought. 

Or maybe you think, I can let some things go. I don’t have to do it all, I can let some things go and I can get back to the basics. We want to create thoughts that are going to generate capability and not overwhelm. We totally underestimate the power that we have on our feelings, okay? 

We are not just at the mercy of overwhelm, you guys. Overwhelm is caused by thoughts. And the great thing is that we can choose to counter those thoughts, and we can choose to think new thoughts. And so once you have just one thought that feels better, that feels good to you, right? Not all of these thoughts are going to work for every single person. 

You want to think a thought and then feel it in your body. If it’s feeling better, take that thought, write it on your hand and look at it all day when you’re feeling this overwhelm come up. Or write it on a sticky note so that you can see it all day, or put it on your phone background. Constantly be thinking this thought on purpose and redirecting yourself to this thought that’s going to help you feel capability and not overwhelm. 

Okay, step number three is to take baby steps. Overwhelm comes when we have all these things we want to do and we want to do it all right now and there’s so much to do. And so a really beautiful tool to stop overwhelm is to remind yourself we’ve got baby steps here and let’s take baby steps, right? The cliché, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And so this is especially important with people trying to quit porn. 

What we’ve been taught is cold turkey all or nothing approaches. We’re not doing that anymore. Can I say that enough? We’re not doing that anymore. I feel like I say that all the time, but maybe you haven’t heard me say it in a while. We’re not doing all or nothing anymore, we’re not quitting cold turkey. All that’s going to do is get you stuck in overwhelm and keep you from being committed. We’re doing it tiny little steps at a time. 

And so this is for anything, any big project you’re working on. I mean, even just now right before I recorded this podcast, you know, I’m so excited about the next five years and what we’re creating in Overcome Pornography For Good. 

And I’m writing out all these things I want to do. So many things I want to give to you guys, and that I want to do in the program, and that I want to do with my marketing, and that I want to do with the podcast and it with my coaches and so many things. And it’s so easy to get overwhelmed when I see all of this listed out. 

And so one of my biggest tools to overcoming that overwhelm, taking care of my body, breathing into it, thinking a thought, like step by step or I’m more capable than I think I am, or I don’t have to do it all now, right? Working on those thoughts, and then planning it out so that it’s tiny, little steps. 

Tiny little steps. Not big steps, tiny little steps. And like I said at the beginning of this episode, we do this in the program. The milestones in the program, right? There are five or six big milestones that you need to accomplish to quit porn, big skills that you need to learn. And it’s not like, oh, here’s this big skill, go and learn it. 

No, we have it out into tiny little steps. Watch this video. Do this worksheet. Practice this skill five times. Attend this coaching call. Tiny little things. Baby steps. Creating a plan that makes it very doable. And in fact, I’m really looking forward to finishing recording this episode so that I can go and do this with all my big plans for Overcome Pornography For Good. I’m just excited to write out into tiny little steps and calendar it so that it just is easy and doable. 

When you’re doing this, it’s really important, especially if you’re doing calendar stuff, it’s really important to put in a lot of time for rest and recoup. So give yourself plenty of time to complete a project, plenty of time to quit porn, so that it’s not like we’re spending two hours a day on something. But maybe two hours a week, whatever is doable to you. Add in a lot of rest and a lot of space, okay? That was step number three. 

And then the fourth tool that I have for you is to just do it overwhelmed, okay? This is where that river of misery comes in, right? Have you guys heard me talk about the river of misery recently? I need to do another episode on it. But it’s this idea that the price for success is discomfort. 

Brooke Castillo says the currency for success is discomfort, and I love that. We cannot be successful without going through some discomfort. And especially so true with porn. You have to go through some miserable growth periods, and we call it the river of misery. 

And so this fourth step, whatever that is that you’re trying to do, do it overwhelmed. Because you’re going to do these steps, you’re going to work on your body, you’re going to work on your thoughts, you’re going to create it and plan it out, and you’re going to feel a lot better. And then you might go back to overwhelm. And that’s okay. That’s okay, that is not a problem. 

So, for example, I do calendar my stuff out into tiny little baby steps. It’s really beautiful, I feel great. And then maybe a few days later my mind starts to remind myself of all the things I want to do. And my brain starts going 100 miles an hour, all the things I have to do. And even though I have those tiny baby steps on the calendar, it’s still just natural for me to go into overwhelm, and I’m working on it. 

And so what I’ve learned to do, and this is going to be a beautiful skill for any of you who are trying to quit porn or trying to do anything, is just leaning into it. Breathe, like yeah, I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I’m going to do it overwhelmed. I’m leaning into overwhelm. 

So instead of being like, “Oh crap, I’m feeling overwhelmed.” And all this resistance to not feel overwhelmed, that’s when you start buffering, you guys. That’s when we buffer, it’s not because of the negative emotion, but because we don’t want to feel the negative emotion. Do you understand me? 

I’m going to say that again. You buffer not because of negative emotion, but because you’re escaping that negative emotion. And so the overwhelm is not a problem. It’s just a sensation in your body. It’s just feeling antsy. It’s just feeling tight, right? It’s just my throat is feeling a little bit tight and stressed. 

I can take care of my body and recognize that sensation is not dangerous. My throat isn’t actually closing up, I can still breathe. I’m safe. I’m okay. It is safe to feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm is not a problem, and so we kind of do it while we’re feeling overwhelmed. We’re leaning into that overwhelm. 

And once you do this, you’ll notice that it’s actually a lot easier than trying to get rid of the overwhelm because there’s not all this resistance to not feel it. It’s almost like when you allow yourself to feel emotions, you kind of just relax. And yeah, it’s still a little bit uncomfortable, my throat is still a little bit tight, but it’s okay. I’m allowing this to be here instead of fighting it. That allows me to get a lot more work done. 

Okay, so again the steps are, one, take care of your body. Notice how your body feels. Notice the sensations, process this emotion a little bit. Do what your body needs, whether that be exercising, walking, food, or sleep. Step number two, notice the thoughts. Break up the thought loops. Be aware of the thoughts causing overwhelm and then think on purpose. Counter those thoughts with a specific thought that’s going to help you counter thoughts that are creating overwhelm. 

Number three, take baby steps. Tiny little baby steps. Even if you think you’ve got it broken out into a step, break it out even more, okay? Tiny little baby steps so that you can redirect your brain to, all I have to do today is this. If you’re in the program, all I have to do today is watch this seven minute video. All I have to do today is process one urge. 

And then lastly, do it overwhelmed. When you get back into that overwhelmed state, breathe into it. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. This is normal. Remember, here are my steps. All I have to do today is watch this seven minute video, process one urge, whatever that is, breathe and do it overwhelmed. 

All right, you guys, you got this. You totally got this. 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 class, How To Overcome Pornography For Good Without Using Willpower. We talk about how to stop giving in to urges without pure willpower or relying on phone filters so that you can actually stop wanting pornography. 

We talk about how to stop giving up after a few weeks or months. And spoiler alert, the answer isn’t have more willpower. And then lastly, we talk about how to make a life without porn easily sustainable and permanent.  

If you’re trying to quit porn, this class is a game changer. So you can go and sign up at Sarabrewer.com/masterclass, and it is totally free.

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