You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 43, The Observer.
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, you guys, welcome to the podcast episode this week. I just had an awesome month. During the month of October my husband, and me, and my two little kids, we went and spent the month in Hawaii. We were trying out working and living there and just seeing what it would be like to work in Hawaii and live in Hawaii.
And it worked great for me because. I mean, I can do my work from wherever and I am just in love with the beach and in love with the sun. And Hawaii just feels like my spirit place, I cry every time I watch Moana. Whenever I meditate and do specific spiritual meditations, I always picture the beach. It really is my spirit place and so it was the best month ever for me. It was like a dream.
And for me it worked great, it was easy for me to work out there. My husband had a little bit of a harder time doing it. He also owns a business, and his business just needs a little bit more time and attention here in Utah before he feels like he can go remote with it. So he stayed the first three weeks and then that last week my sister and my mom came and stayed with me, and it was awesome.
And when my sister and my mom were here, I have to tell you the funniest thing that happened. So I was watching TikToks because I’m obsessed with TikTok, it’s the biggest time sucker but also really hilarious. Man, people on the internet are just so funny.
So I saw this TikTok that said, “There are people alive today who will live to see the year 3000.” And I was like, “What?” My mind was blown. My younger sister, my youngest sister who came and stayed with me, she was born in 2003 and so I burst into the room, I’m like, “Mom, Megan, did you know that if you live to be 97, you will live to see the year 3000?” And I was freaking out and my mom was like, “Sara, your kids will get to see the year 3000 if they live to be old.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy.”
We’re having this like big freak out moment and then two days later I get a text from my younger sister, she said, “Bruh, we’re legit so dumb.” Is that not the most teenager text you’ve ever heard? “Bruh, we’re legit so dumb.” She said, “No one living right now is going to make it to the year 3000. It doesn’t go from 2099 to 3000. It’s goes from 2099 to 2100.”
And I was dead. I was dead, that was so funny to me. Oh my gosh, that was my dumb, dumb moment for the week. I was convinced that my kids were going to live to see the year 3000.
So anyways, we've also got a bunch of you who joined the program for November and we're doing the work in the program and it's going awesome. You guys are having great epiphanies, great wins. I’m so proud of you all.
I'm so grateful for those of you who have left me reviews on iTunes. I’m not going to read one this week, but I have a bunch that I want to share in the upcoming weeks. So thank you so much.
And today what I want to do is I want to talk about this skill set that's required to overcome pornography that's super, super important, called being the observer. This is a skill that you can apply to every area of your life, honestly like everything else I teach, and it will completely change your life. And when we apply it to quitting pornography, it especially makes a really big difference.
So it's called being the observer. And what it is, is it's learning to observe yourself. Learning how to notice and observe the things happening in your mind and in your body without judgment and without indulgence. So you notice your thoughts without judging them. You notice your urges or your feelings without judging them. And you just observe, and you just notice what's going on.
So it's just observing your brain instead of believing everything your brain is telling you. So you notice, you're like, “Oh, I'm feeling anxious. Why? Oh, I just had a thought that I'll never have a job.”
See how you're just observing? “Okay, here's this anxious feeling. And it's coming from this thought, I'll never find a job.” And you don't jump right into it and be like, “Oh yeah, that's true because of this, this, and this. And what if I never do this, this, and this?”
You're just observing that thought and observing those emotions. “Oh, I'm feeling an urge. I just had a thought to view pornography. I'm just feeling off today. Oh, I just had a thought that no one likes me.” You observe what's going on in your brain, you observe what's going on in your body.
I downloaded the Headspace app a few years ago. It's a meditation app and it's pretty great. I really liked it. And they do a lot of these training videos your first couple meditations. And they used this example once and it's always stuck with me. It's such a great example of what it means to be the observer and what it looks like to be the observer.
So I want you to imagine that you're on a hill, a pretty big hill, and you can see a highway and a freeway below you. And just imagine that you're looking down below and you're observing traffic. You're just observing the traffic.
You notice if it's fast or slow. You notice if maybe there's a wreck. You notice if someone's been pulled over. You notice if things are going smoothly. You notice what color the cars are. You notice what type of cars are driving that day.
So you're not getting in the cars and driving with them, you're just observing them. You don't need to change anything about the cars, you're just observing them and watching them. You don't need to change traffic; you're just observing traffic.
And so that's what we want to learn to do with our minds, is we want to learn to just sit up on this hill and just observe and just watch our thoughts and our feelings. And what's going on in our brain is the cars and we are the observer. So we don't need to go jump in the car and ride it wherever it's going and believe every thought that comes into our mind.
So you have a thought, and you notice, you're observing yourself. You're like, “Okay, I just noticed I had this thought that I'm a terrible person because I want pornography. Okay, that's interesting. Breathe. What else am I noticing?” Instead of jumping in that car, jumping in that thought, “Yes, I am a terrible person for wanting porn and this is why. And I'm also a terrible person in all these other areas of my life.”
It's just this ability to take a step back, or to take a step up. I like to think of it as taking a step up and just watching. Instead of being all in the drama, just watching. “Oh, there my brain goes again, it's going on this little rant about why I'm not good enough. Okay, breathe. What else am I noticing?” Not, “Oh, it's right and these are all the reasons that it's right and that it's true.” You start to separate yourself and your being from your thoughts.
And if you can learn to do this, if you can start practicing this, it will change every area of your life. This is one of the key foundations to learning how to coach yourself. And learning emotional wellness, and learning how to quit pornography and all these things is just learning to gain awareness of what's going on in yourself and being the observer.
The skill of being the observer is that it's just learning how to be aware. And it's life changing. This awareness is life changing because you stop believing everything that you're thinking. And so you start to gain a little bit more control over what you're allowing into your mind. When you become aware of how you're thinking, you can start to change how you're thinking.
A lot of us aren't even aware of our thoughts. Because we just think that our thoughts are fact. So I'm having this thought that I am a terrible person, and I'm super awkward, and I'm awful. And we don't even stop to question those, we just believe them.
Or we have these thoughts that I can't quit porn, and I've tried too many times. And this is too difficult. And I don't think I'll ever be able to do this. And we don't even stop to question them. We just believe them. Being the observer is stopping, questioning, taking a step back and being like, “Oh yeah, there goes my brain telling me I can't do it again. But maybe that's not true.”
So when we become aware, when we start to gain this awareness, we can learn to change the things that we're thinking. We're not seeing them just as fact anymore. When you step back and become aware, you start to separate the facts from the thoughts. So you can start to see, “Okay, I made a comment in class and my brain immediately told me I'm stupid.
And that was a dumb comment.”
So take a step back and just observe, “Oh, there goes my brain telling me that I'm stupid. All I did was make this comment in class. Hmm, really interesting.” And we don't have to judge it. We'd have to be angry and be like, “What the heck brain? Why are you telling me that?” Or, “What's wrong with me for thinking such negative things?” No, we're just like, “Oh, that's so fascinating. Oh look, I have a human brain, this is so interesting.”
Human brains, you guys, I tell my clients this all the time. Human brains are just designed to always think that there's something wrong. It's like our programming. And I don't know if it's just part of just being here on earth with imperfect bodies and imperfect minds. But our brains are just programmed to always think that there's something wrong.
And so notice that that's your default. That's probably your default, things start going well and maybe we're on a high for a minute. And then our brain immediately goes to, “Oh, something's wrong. Something's wrong with this situation. Something's wrong with this person. Something's wrong with me. Something's wrong with the weather. Something's wrong with my body. Something's wrong with my relationship.”
Our brain just always, always, always wants to think that there's something wrong. So being the observer looks like taking a step back and be like, “Oh yeah, there goes my brain thinking that something's wrong again. Okay, no big deal.” And then you can start to redirect it. But you can't redirect your brain until you've really gotten good at just observing it without judgment.
Another example is observing your brain when you're feeling anxious. Oh look, there goes my brain telling me that I'm going to die on this flight today.
Just sitting back and observing it, and feeling it, and letting it be there, but also not just believing it, okay?
You see the difference? We can observe it and we can let that anxiousness be there and let that fear be there of the plane, without immediately believing, “Yeah, we're all going to die on this plane.” And specifically with pornography too, this awareness, being the observer, it teaches you so many things about your porn habit that are really important for us to know.
So many times when we're trying to quit porn and we just keep trying the same thing over and over again. Or we slip up, and then we're like, “Oh crap, we'll do better next time.” And we aren't looking at our triggers. We aren't looking at what's going on in our body. We aren’t looking at our thoughts that are creating these results for us.
And so learning to be the observer helps you take a step back and shows you your thoughts that are creating the porn use, and shows you your triggers, and shows you your emotions and the things that you're buffering from.
I was on a coaching call last night in the program with a client who said, “I don't know what's happening, it just seems like sometimes I just start looking at it. And I don't know why but it just happens.”
If that's you, and I know that's many of you listening to this, you're like, “I don't even know what happens, I just start looking at it.” It's because you need to start to gain this skill of becoming the observer and becoming more aware of the emotions that you're feeling and becoming more aware of the thoughts that you're thinking.
And so what this looks like is maybe you just notice that you're feeling off and instead of trying to ignore it or instead of trying to work through it, you address it. And you just say to yourself, “Oh, I'm feeling off. I wonder what this is. Hmm, what am I feeling? Oh, I'm feeling shame. I wonder why I'm feeling shame. Oh, my brains telling me that I'm worthless. That's so interesting that when my brain tells me I'm worthless, I have these urges to go view pornography.”
Or maybe you start by noticing just the urge to go view pornography. And that's when you can step back and observe again, “Why am I having this urge? Why do I want to look at pornography? What am I feeling? Oh, I'm feeling restless. That’s so interesting that when I feel restless, I just want to go look at pornography.”
Or, “Oh, I'm feeling off. I'm feeling lonely. Hmm, my brain is telling me that I need connection. I'm having urges to view pornography because I'm having these urges to get rid of the loneliness. I'm trying to get rid of the loneliness.” And just taking a step back and observing yourself. It takes a little bit of practice if you haven't been used to it before, but don't over complicate it.
Some of you want to really complicate it. And all it is, is just breathing and just starting to be a little bit more aware of what your body's feeling. And it can be a little bit tricky if you haven't done it much in the past, if you've just been used to ignoring your feelings, if you don't really have a lot of emotional awareness. But once we start to do this, it really changes things.
When it comes to shame and pornography, which is, gosh, one of the biggest things we have to work through. And one of the biggest things that will keep you viewing porn is the shame. I've talked about it so much in the podcast, and I will continue talking about it. We're not done talking about shame.
But in order for us to disconnect from the shame, we have to learn how to be the observer. Observing our self, becoming aware without judgment will allow you to disconnect from the shame so that you can start to make progress.
So you're feeling shame, you're feeling like there's something wrong with you, instead of you just jumping in and believing all those thoughts, learning to take a step back and just watch what your brain is telling you. Watch what it's saying to you without being invested in whether or not it's true.
And lastly, the last reason that this is such an important skill is that this teaches you that you are not your thoughts. I know that sounds trippy.
I think the first time I heard that I was like, “What? What do you mean I'm not my thoughts? If I'm not my thoughts, then what am I?” And I've had people say that to me too.
But I want you to think about it this way, okay? There are your thoughts and your feelings. And then there's this part of you that can watch yourself think. This part of you that can be the observer that we've talked about, that you can just sit on this hill and watch all of your thoughts.
This part of you that can watch yourself and watch your thoughts, that is you. That is your spirit, that is your higher self. I don't know what you call it, that is you. You're not just your thoughts.
If we were our thoughts, we wouldn't be able to watch our thoughts. You can start to disconnect to yourself, your worth from your thoughts. Especially because, you guys, as humans and because of our environment, and because of our conditioning, and because of trauma, and all the stuff from the human experience, we just have thoughts that come into our mind that we can't control.
And if you're attaching your identity to all of these triggered thoughts or all these thoughts, you can't control, you just put yourself at the mercy of your background. You put yourself at the mercy of your environment. When in reality, you are not those things.
And so we can have these triggered thoughts come into our mind without identifying with them and without making them mean something about ourselves. You are not your thoughts. You have thoughts. You have thoughts that come just out of nowhere and subconsciously, and you have thoughts that you get to choose to think.
But you are not your thoughts. So these triggered thoughts that you have, we don't need to make them mean anything about ourselves. What I want you to do is notice them and move on.
For example, some of you get really upset and feel a lot of shame when you have sexual urges and thoughts after, for example, seeing someone wear specific clothing. If this is you, I want to encourage you to learn to be the observer in this situation. You don't have to make it mean anything more than I had this thought and I had this feeling, and then move on.
So if you see someone and it triggers these thoughts and these feelings, you don't need to freak out and shame yourself. You don't need to shame or blame the other person. Girls wearing bikinis are not walking pornography. And when we're blaming our feelings and our thoughts on people, we start to blame people on what they wear.
And you don't need to entertain it either. We can observe and move on. And we don't need to make it mean something terrible about us, like, “Oh my gosh, what's wrong with me for having this thought and this feeling?” All that happened here is you had a human brain with some conditioning to think a sexual thought, period. Notice and move on. It doesn't need to be anything more than that.
And do you see how doing this really starts to remove the shame and starts to give us our own power back instead of our power is all in these thoughts that just come out of nowhere? No, that's not where the power comes from. The power comes from your ability to observe, and to become aware, and then consciously make a decision after you have an initial triggering thought.
All right, you guys, that's what I have for you this week. I love you all. We'll talk 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.