Episode 21: Urge Flow

Uncategorized Jun 06, 2021


One question that always comes up for my clients around urges is what to do when your urges seem to keep coming back. Learning to process and allow urges is a big portion of the work I do with clients, but this urge flow means that the desire to view pornography is always going to return. And this is the point where living with the urge becomes even more difficult.

Now, when we are learning to process and understand your pornography habit, this urge flow is inevitable. So, in this episode, I’m preparing you for dealing with the thoughts and feelings that will come up for you when the urges you thought you had already dealt with start to resurface.

Join me on the podcast this week for a greater understanding of how your urges flow, and how to handle them when they come back time and again. You’ll discover how to live with the urge and analyze where it comes from, instead of getting caught up in negative thoughts because of your desire to view porn.

I have amazing news. If you want to take the work I’m sharing on the podcast deeper, I’m running a masterclass called How to Quit Viewing Pornography Even if You’ve Tried in the Past is 100% free! All you have to do is sign up here and I will see you there. 

What You'll Learn from this Episode:   

  • What an urge really is and why they are actually nothing to worry about.
  • Why your urges flow and come back continually, even if you haven’t viewed porn in a while.
  • How understanding urge flow will allow you to face those urges when they do appear.
  • Why trying to willpower through urges never helps overcome them in the long term.
  • The purpose of processing and feeling our urges when they do occur.
  • Where our urges come from and how you can check on your thoughts around them.


Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • Click here to sign up for my free mastermind called How to Quit Viewing Pornography Even if You’ve Tried in the Past!

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 21: Urge Flow.

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 everyone. Welcome to the podcast episode this week. So glad that you're here. I'm so glad that I am here. I have been so out of commission for the past couple of days. Everyone here in my house has been so out of commission. We’ve been so sick. Oh my gosh. We got this nasty 24-hour stomach flu. And holy cow you guys. It was so miserable. My toddler was throwing up. I was throwing up. My husband was throwing up.

This might be a little bit too much information, but this just shows how severe it was. I was barfing in the toilet, and then my husband comes barreling in. He has to start throwing up. So I hurry and move to the bathtub. We’re both just throwing up together all night long. Someone in the bathtub, someone in the toilet. Laying on the floor together just so miserable, all night long.

Anyways. It was awful. I'm glad that we’re over that. I hope that none of you get this bug because I've heard it’s been going around. I've heard from a lot of friends and other people that a lot of people have had this awful flu bug. You can hear a little bit of coughing in the background. That’s my little guy. Hopefully, we can edit it out. If not, that’s fine. You’ll just hear a little bit of coughing.

Here we are today, and I'm glad to be here. We’re going to talk about urge flow. We’re going to dive into your urges a little bit more. How to handle urges, what to do when your urges seem to keep coming back. I hear this all the time. This is something that I answer questions on a lot and coach around a lot is, “Hey my urges keep coming back. What do I do?” So we’re going to dive into that.

Before we dive into that, I want to share some wins with you that some of my clients are having. The reason that I really want to share these is because these are stories of people that are accomplishing and doing exactly what you want to do. I share these to give hope and to give evidence of what’s possible.

So first from one of my clients, and I won't say his name. He’s only been in the program for a couple weeks. He sent me this message of a win. Said, “I wanted to quickly express the changes that I have seen in the few weeks that I have been working with you through your program. I have felt so much hope and excitement for the future. I have felt an immense decrease in shame for my past and current actions.”

These two things seem to compound on each other much like shame did but in the opposite direction, right. Just how detrimental the shame was for him, this new hope and excitement is just as good for him as the shame was detrimental is what he’s saying. “Rather than bringing me down, I am noticing my thoughts lifting me up. This is a big win for me. I was stuck in a cycle of self-loathing and no hope for the future.  I'm looking forward to continuing to see where I will be in a few months.”

This is just after a couple weeks. These big transformations within ourself where we feel hope and excitement for the future, they make the biggest difference when it comes to quitting pornography. For so long, for years and years and years and years, this client has been stuck in some self-loathing and hopelessness because of the pornography habit. Look at this. In just a couple weeks, we can completely shift that. That is doable for you too.

Also, I want to share a win from one of my clients, another client. He’s cracking me up. So every time one of my clients has a slip up, I have them send me some work that they do after that slip up to see what we need to do next. What happened, what we can learn from it, what went wrong, what went well. Just stuff like that. What he said, “I hadn’t been viewing pornography, and I’d been processing my urges really well. Then it was like my brain freaked out.”

Let me actually read it. What’d he say? He said, “I got to the point today that I felt like I had to go and view because I'm just someone who goes and looks at pornography. So I forced myself to view even though I didn’t really want to.” He’s like, “That was crazy that that happened. To be honest, this gave me tons of hope and motivation because THINGS ARE WORKING.” In all capitals. “THINGS ARE WORKING. Oh, my heck. I can't even tell you how long I've been dealing with this. To go and actually start making progress is incredible,” is what he said.

Processing the urges is working. Just doing all this work in the program is working to the point where he didn’t even want pornography. But he was like, “Wait, I'm still someone who looks at porn.” So he went and looked at it. That’s going to be our next step, right, that we work on. We work on being someone who doesn’t view pornography and really taking on that identity so that we aren’t self-sabotaging ourselves. That was just a really fun message from him. “Things are working. This gave me so much hope.”

So for you who are listening. No matter how long you’ve been struggling with pornography, no matter how stuck in it you feel. I hear all the time it just feels so automatic. So, “Like I have no control over it.” No matter how that feels, there is so much hope for you to live the life that you want to in regards to pornography. It won't always feel so out of control. You can do the work. You can come and do the work and get out of that place and have the life that you want. Especially in regards to pornography. All right?

Okay. So let’s hop into today. So we’re going to talk about urge flow. So urge flow is just this idea that the urges, they keep coming back. They go away, and they come back. They go away, and they come back. It’s flowing back and forth. Kind of like the tide. Flow out, flow in, flow out, flow in. Tide in, tide out, tide in, tide out.

Okay so this comes up when my clients say to me, “I processed it and it went away, and I felt it like you taught us to. Then it came back. What's wrong? Why’d it come back? I processed it and it went away, but it kept coming back. Then I processed it again and it came back. So I just eventually gave into it because it kept coming back.”

Okay. So here’s the thing. This urge flow will start happening when you start processing your urges. When you stop running away from them, when you stop will powering away from them like we’ve talked about and stop using all of our strength to push them away, which is exhausting and doesn’t work. When we stop doing that, when we start to feel them, they’ll go away and then they’ll come back. They’ll go away, and they’ll come back. I want to prepare you for this. This is going to happen.

So here’s a couple things. When this starts to happen, first recognize that nothing has gone wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. If you're new to the podcast, if you haven’t listened to those other episodes on stop fearing urges and how to process your urges, let me explain to you what I'm talking about when we begin to do this. Let me back up just a little bit.

So when we have an urge to view pornography. When we have this desire to go and view porn, it’s like this feeling of something pulling you towards it or just a desire to go and look at it. We have a couple of options of what we can do with that. First, we can willpower. We can push it away. Try not to think about it. We can try to avoid it. We can just give into it. We can just listen to it and give in to it. Or we can let it be there. We can let that feeling be there of that desire without giving into it.

Okay. So, for example, you have the urge, the thought, “Hey, let’s go look at porn.” You can be like, “No, no, no. Go away, go away, go away. Bad, bad, bad.” Resist, resist, resist. Try to run away from it. Try to go run it out on the treadmill. Try to go distract yourself. Okay, that doesn’t work. That doesn’t work. If you’ve attended any of my master classes, we dive into this in there too. That doesn’t work. It doesn’t work long term, and it’s exhausting. You can only do it for so long.

That’s why so many of you will start to do that, and then swing and just give in. And give in and give in and give in. You’re so exhausted from pushing it away that you're like, “Oh whatever. I’ll just give into it, and we’ll try again tomorrow.” So those are two options, willpower and give in.

Then this third option, which I've talked about in depth here on the podcast, and we really dive into it in my program. Which is just learning how to sit with it and process it and let it be there. Let it come and scream at you. Let it tell you, “Hey, let’s go look at porn.” That discomfort, that feeling of being pulled towards something. You can let it be there. You can sit with that. You can feel that, and not give into it. Just like we can feel anger and not start to scream.

It just takes a new skill. This is a new way of learning how to handle these emotions, and it takes a lot of practice. But you can learn how to do that. It’s a much, much easier way of learning how to handle your urges than it is to push it away. This is what my client was talking about when he’s like, “This is working.” Yeah. It works, and it’s a lot easier once you get the hang of it and you start practicing it.

So when you start practicing it and this starts to happen, the urge goes away and then it comes back. The urge goes away, and it comes back. First is that nothing has gone wrong, okay. The purpose of sitting with and processing our urges isn’t to make them go away. All right?

This is really important because a lot of us think that the reason that we sit with and feel our urges is so that they will eventually go away. Listen, they will. They will eventually go away. Just like a toddler screaming for a candy bar. He screams long enough, and you don’t give it to him. You hear him screaming, and you don’t give it to him. He’ll eventually stop screaming because he’ll learn that that doesn’t get him what he wants. So eventually as you are sitting with these urges, just like if you were sitting with a screaming toddler, they will stop screaming at you. They will stop coming.

But that’s not the purpose of processing them, okay. The purpose is to get really good at feeling the discomfort of the urge. The urge to view pornography is not dangerous, is not irresistible, is not overpowering. It is simply a feeling that you have in your body that you can practice feeling, get really good at feeling, and then be really good at it and be able to feel it without giving into it.

Just like we can get really good at feeling the discomfort of pumping weights, right. We can get really good at the pain and the pressure that we feel when we pump weights. The purpose of pumping weights isn’t so that it’s really easy to pump weights, right. We’re always going to add more weights. The purpose of pumping weights is to get really good at pumping weights and feeling the discomfort of pumping weights so we can get stronger and stronger and stronger.

It’s the same thing with processing urges. So if you're processing your urges and expecting them to go away and then they come back, nothing’s gone wrong. That’s exactly what's supposed to happen. The purpose is for you to practice feeling this and getting really good at the discomfort of it. Then it gets easier and easier and easier to manage.

Okay. Trying to make these urges go away is another form of resistance, is another form of this willpower that we’ve talked about that doesn’t work. When you're trying to make the urge go away, you step out of processing. Step out of that state of allowing it and letting it be there without giving into it, and you step into that state of go away, go away, go away willpower resist. So as soon as you notice yourself processing the urge to make it go away, you are stepping into that willpower. Stepping out of the processing and stepping into the willpower.

This is like holding a beach ball underwater. When you're trying to make these urges go away and you're trying to resist them, it’s like holding a beach ball under water. What happens when you hold a beach ball under water? It wants to just pop up, right? It pops up with a lot of force. The deeper you hold it under the water, the more force it has coming out. This is exactly what happens when we resist our urges or when we resist any emotions in general.

Think about it. When you're trying to resist being angry like, “No I'm not going to be angry. I'm not going to be angry. I'm not going to be angry.” I don’t know about you, but I always explode. Like, “No I can't be angry. I can't be angry.” Then I explode and start to yell. It’s the same with urges. No don’t feel the urge, don’t feel the urge, don’t feel the urge, and then it just explodes.

Okay. So instead of trying to make this go away, I want you to practice this attitude of, “Hey. This is this urge to view porn, and it’s just going to hang out with me today. It’s going to sit in the back of the car with me today. I'm carrying it around with me today in my back pocket or wherever. I'm just carrying this around with me today. Sometimes it’s going to be really loud, and sometimes it will be quiet, and I will forget that it’s there. But it’s always going to be there. I’ll just notice it throughout the day, and that’s okay. That’s okay. It’s just hanging out with me today.”

Then you can remind yourself, right. “This isn’t going to be here forever, but for today it’s hanging out with me. Or for this week it’s hanging out with me.”  Instead of, “It keeps coming back. Why does it keep coming back? What am I doing wrong?” You're not doing anything wrong. The purpose isn’t to make it go away. The purpose is to get really good and comfortable with it. To become its friend and to just allow it to be there without giving into it. When your mindset is, “I need this to go away,” you're going to be much more likely to give into it instead of just letting it be there and getting really good at feeling it.

Okay. So number two, when you notice this urge flow—the urge is coming and going, coming and going—I want you to practice noticing your thoughts. This is a really big principle that’s important for you to understand is that your urges come from your thoughts. Every single time you feel desire or an urge for porn, it’s because you had a thought that created that desire. You might not be aware of those thoughts right now. It might just feel automatic because you haven’t practiced noticing the thoughts.

So notice as these urges come and go, come and go. What thoughts brought that urge back? It can just be as simple as, “I want that. I can't have that, and I want it. Just one more time, right. One more time. I can have it one more time. This will feel good.” If you think this will feel good, you will have an urge. “This is fun. Porn is fun. Porn is enjoyable. I really like porn, and I want it.” Those thoughts are going to bring this urge. We don’t have to be angry at those thoughts. We don’t have to shame those thoughts. We can just notice them, and let those thoughts come and go too.

This is really fascinating when you start to recognize this. Because you’ll be fine. You won't have any urges. You'll just be going throughout your day. Then all of a sudden, you’ll have a thought. “Actually, hey remember, maybe we should look at porn today. I know you said you weren’t going to, but maybe you should.” Then it becomes a possibility, and then you all of a sudden start to feel an urge. It’s super fascinating. So really pay attention to this and get curious with what's going on here.

When you start to have these thoughts, like I said, don’t judge them. Don’t shame them. Just be interested and curious and fascinated by them. “Wow, look. As soon as it becomes a possibility, as soon as I have the thought like hey maybe we should do this today, I start to feel that strong urge again. Interesting.”

Okay. Something that’s really important about these urges is that they only last 90 seconds. This is any feeling in general too, right. Any feeling and any urge, any desire that you have only lasts 90 seconds until you have a thought that brings the urge. So you’ll process it. You'll feel it for 90 seconds, and it will go away until you have another thought that’s like, “Actually I really want it.” Then it will come back, and you’ll process through it again.

Remember. What is an urge? What is an urge? What is this desire that is so uncomfortable that you don’t want to feel? All it is is a vibration in your body. We talk about this in-depth in the episode ‘Stop Fearing Urges’, but this is something I coach my clients on often. That urges are not scary, and they are not too difficult. All an urge is is a vibration in your body. You can sit with this. You can feel this as long as you want to.

My clients will say…You know I’ll ask them explain to me this urge. Explain to me this thing that feels so difficult. Explain to me this thing that is keeping you from following through with your commitments to yourself. You're telling me you don’t want to be viewing pornography. So explain to me what this thing is that’s making you go and view pornography. They’ll say something like, “I feel this tightness in my stomach and this jitteriness in my side and this heaviness in my chest.”

We’ll really dive into it, really dive into the body, and get very close up with this urge. What exactly is it? What is this vibration? What does it feel like? It feels like tightness, jitteriness, maybe some heaviness. It’s different for every person. That’s just one example. Then I always ask them so what's so bad about that? What is so bad about some tightness in your stomach, some jitteriness in your side, and some heaviness in your chest?

The answer is always nothing. There is nothing that is too hard about that that you cannot sit with it. You can absolutely sit with it. Noticing this and really diving into this for yourself, right. It’s one thing for me to say it on the podcast, and it’s another thing for you to go and do it. Will completely change your life. So the urge is totally doable, totally feelable. It’s not too hard. What makes it hard is the drama in your head. “I need it. I’ll miss out if I don’t have this. One more time. I can't do this. I need to have this.” That’s what makes it hard, okay.

So when this happens, when you start to notice these thoughts that are causing this urge, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to first of all notice it. Just recognize it. Then number two, recognize that you have so much more control than you think you do. Because you can first feel this urge, and second you can begin to change your thoughts so that you can stop thinking the thoughts that are creating the urges eventually.

So you notice this thought that you have. Maybe you notice yourself thinking, “I really want it.” What do you do? Interesting. It’s so interesting. You notice it. You feel it. Then you redirect it. “I really want it, but I'm giving up what I want right now for what I really want in my future life.” Then you feel that urge. That urge is easy to feel. It’s just some discomfort.

When I say it’s easy to feel, it’s not going to be a cakewalk. It’s not going to be really calm. It’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be hard. But it’s simple and it’s not too overpowering. That’s what I mean. So you notice yourself thinking, “I'm going to miss out. I want this. I'm going to miss out.” Then you redirect, “But I'm going to gain so much by learning to quit this. I'm willing to miss out on that pleasure to gain what I'm going to learn by quitting this.”

Then your brain says, “But I really, really want it.” You redirect. “That’s okay. You can have it, but let’s not have it right now. Let’s not have it in the middle of this urge. Not when I've told myself I'm not going to have it. Let’s decide whether or not we want it when we’re not reacting to desire. Let’s wait. You can decide if you want this, but we’re not going to decide if we want this when we’re just reacting to an urge that we feel. When you're not feeling any urges, when you're thinking clearer, that’s when you can make the decision for what you want in your life. Right now, we’re sticking with our commitment to ourself to feel this urge and not give it to us.”

Then your brain says, “I can't do this.” You redirect, “I can do this for two more minutes. I'm going to go on a drive or a walk while I do this.” Then you do two minutes, and you're like, “I can do this for one more minute. I'm going to go on a drive or a walk while I do this.” You're going to breathe through it and process through it. You can do this. Then your brain says, “This is so difficult.” Again, you redirect. “Yes, this is hard. That is so good. I'm choosing this. I'm choosing to do this. It’s good. It’s a good thing that it’s difficult.”

Okay. So just a really quick recap for you. Urge flow is that moment that you're all going to experience where you're quitting porn where the urges come and go and come and go. First is that nothing is wrong. That’s exactly what's supposed to happen. Second, the purpose of processing urges isn’t to make them go away but to get really, really good at feeling the discomfort of the urge. Third, notice your thoughts, and get really curious with how your thoughts are creating this urge flow.

The last thing I want to say about this is as you're noticing these thoughts, be careful not to fall into the trap of, “Well now I just need to think something different so I can feel better.” When we’re going through this process of processing these urges and bringing down all of this over desire for the pornography, we don’t want to feel better. We want to feel really bad. We want to feel the urges strong and get very, very good at feeling them.

So recognize the thoughts and be curious with them and become aware of them, and don’t try and make them go away. Instead, just try to get really good at feeling the discomfort from the urge. 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.

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