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The Self Mastery Podcast
35 minutes | Aug 2, 2021
Pornography is not the problem - Change the conversation from fear to love
- Let’s talk about how we can move from fear, worried about how this is going to destroy marriages, - To love, letting this become a challenge that we face together, growing with, and strengthening each other- We are going to discuss ways to understand and recognize the fear based messages that we offer- As we discuss these we’ll talk about how we might discuss address these when others say them and how we can open conversations differently- And change those conversations to love, hope, and success- Let’s start with somethings that we often hear and see- “This will destroy your life?”/marriage- You can never forget those imagesYou will always be addicted/this will be a problem
28 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
When Marriage Is Hard
When Marriage is hard. Seasons of marriageImagine on the day you got married you knew that there would be a trial so difficult that it had the potential to tear apart your entire life. Your every belief structure would be questioned. everything you had worked for would be reduced to the decision of whether to stay or go. all of your hard work, love, and hope would be tested so thoroughly that either this would be the end of your marriage or your marriage will be strengthened immeasurably. Imagine, as you stand there, vowing to make your life and your eternity with the person you now adore, that this will happen not just once, but multiple times during your life together. Would you get married? Would you choose a different partner? how would you approach marriage differently?
24 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
To Be a Vulnerability Partner
I just listened to your most recent podcast about the vulnerability partner vs the accountability partner and I’m left with one question. When you are the vulnerability partner and the pornography user is expressing feelings of having a bad day or not feeling well about themself, what does the vulnerability partner respond with? Aside from listening what should they do or say to help?
16 minutes | Jul 12, 2021
Three Steps Down the Rabbit Hole
The three steps that take us down the rabbit hole. As I have worked with hundreds of men and women over the past few years, I have noticed a pattern of behavior emerge that is the critical turning point from being fully the master of your behavior to viewing pornography and following the habitual following of feel good now based rituals.This doesn’t happen with every one every time, but it happens with such frequency that it makes sense to get a feel for it, if you are someone that is working to eliminate a bad habit in your life. It all starts with a near truth. A near truth is something that, on the surface is easily seen as true and something that most people would agree with you on. These kinds of thoughts sound like this: These are all actual beliefs that individual clients have said to me in the scope of our coaching.“I don’t want to be miserable all day”“being in control of myself is so hard”And “When I find something I enjoy, I stick to it”These are the kinds of thoughts that we think should be true. I’ve never met someone who wanted to be miserable at all, much less all day. We have all been in a position to where we think self control is hard. And who doesn’t want to stick with enjoyable things. They are near truths because they are the kinds of phrases that are hard to argue against. They seem right, others are likely to agree with you when you say them, and they are easy to believe because of these things. The problem here is that though they are near truths, they aren’t true in the long term. They are actually lies in the long term. Not because you actually do want to be miserable all day or because being in control of yourself is really easy or because when you find things you enjoy you don’t stick to it. Let’s start with the first one, “I don’t want to be miserable all day”There are at least two untruths in this statement. The first issue is that most of us, when we deal with our feelings directly, are not going to feel miserable “all day”. Modern research shows that most emotions, when felt out to their full extent, last about 90 seconds. That isn’t to say that your feelings might not last longer or shorter. Just that is the average. Usually, the reason our feelings last longer is that we keep retelling stories that refresh and restart the cycle of the feeling. When we fall in love, we tell stories of how our new love loves us. When we are miserable, we tell and retell stories about how someone has wronged us, how we are in the right, and they are not.This particular client was dealing with work struggles. He was telling himself how others around him were talking about him. The only way he was going to be miserable all day was if he kept telling himself repeatedly about what he thought others thought about him. All day is a long time to dwell on anything, especially, when we are aware that our thoughts, beliefs, and stories are the things making us miserable and we get to choose whether they are true or not and how long to dwell on them. The second issue with this statement is that we assume that we don’t want to feel miserable and that the proffered solution is going to make us feel better. Funny thing about emotions is that they exist to be felt and we often do everything in our power to avoid feeling them. In this scenario this client believed that he didn’t want to feel miserable all day, and the solution his brain offered him was 30 minutes of arousal to remove the miserable feeling. a thing that our brains often do is discount future pain based on current desire to feel pleasure, What his brain didn’t take into account was the fact that when the arousal finished, and it always finishes, he would not only still be left with his miserable feelings from before he turned to pornography to feel arousal, he would also have some additional negative feelings to deal with. Guilt, frustration, loneliness, shame, and isolation often set in after we come back to focus on our reality outside of feeling arousal created by pornography. The analogy I often use is, if I came up to you on the street and offered you a brand new, mint condition one dollar coin if you will give me your dirtiest, oldest, ugliest five dollar bill, you would think I was an idiot and never take the exchange. Our lower brain often thinks that positive emotions are more valuable than negative emotions and will seek this five to one exchange rate even though our rational mind finds it to be unreasonable. So, if you’re going to feel miserable, wouldn’t you want to avoid compounding it with other emotions by dealing with it directly? By turning to pornography to create an immediate sense of arousal to push away our misery we suppress misery for only a short time and end up with many more negative emotions once that arousal ends. So in the case of the idea, “I don’t want to feel miserable all day” what is more true, that we are going to feel more miserable, with the compounding of negative emotions if we avoid feeling miserable now, or If I feel miserable now, I’ll feel better later. So in the sense that avoiding our misery creates more misery long run, it is a lie that we don’t want to feel miserable, we do want to deal with our emotions up front more than we want to compound them by avoiding them for short term pleasure. Recognizing this near truth for what it is, a belief that is only true in the short term and never true in the long term is key to stepping back from allowing it to guide your actions. A great question to ask is, will this be true tomorrow? Will believing this help me be more like the person I want to be? Is this true all the time or only when I don’t want to feel bad?The second step our brain takes when we start down the path of choosing pornography, food, or any other buffer is, to justify it. In this step we tell ourselves some kind of limit that we will follow. We say things like: “I’ll only look at bikini pictures” or “I’ll only eat one bite” or “I’ll only scroll Instagram”We offer ourselves a belief that is only true until it isn’t. These are the kinds of thoughts that really don’t hold up to the scrutiny of standing alone, but in light of our believing our first thought, they seem more plausible and, importantly justified because of our previous thought. Take the thought, I’ll only scroll Instagram for instance. If we have, in the past, used Instagram as a way to fully engage with pornography, then this justification is a thinly veiled lie that we basically know is not true in the long run. We know that the Instagram algorithm is eventually going to offer us some click bait that will lead us to the next thing and the next thing until we reach phase three, which we will go into in a minute. We can see this is a justification, we wouldn’t believe it if someone else came to us and said it, so why do we believe it when we are in the moment? Because it feels exciting. Thinking, I’ll only go so far, is this exciting moment that puts us on the razor’s edge and allows us to simultaneously believe that we will be good, while also believing that we can fall into doing something that is contrary to our moral compass. This justification is also part of why we tell ourselves it won’t be our fault if we come to something that is outside our moral compass or self-defined boundaries. In the case of food, I’ll only take a couple of bites, leads us into the mountains with the idea that if a boulder crushes us, we had nothing to do with it. But the truth is, if we don’t want to get crushed by a boulder that we know is there, teetering on the edge, waiting for the slightest vibration in the earth to dislodge it, we must take responsibility for being on the path at all, rather than plead gravity as the sole force contributing to the devastating descent of our crushing burden. Justifications are a way to offload responsibility while concurrently choosing a path that leads to consequences we are all too familiar with.To create greater awareness of whether you are falling into a justification ask yourself, Have I said this before and was it true then? I know what will happen if I go down this path, do I want to deal with the consequences? The third thing our brain will do is outright lie to us. It will tell us that we are “already here, so we might as well keep going”. It will say, “this is the last time” when it has said that before. It will tell you, “It’s too late to stop now”. Or “you’ve already done it today, you might as well do it again.”These are starker, they stand out more, they are more clearly untrue when they stand alone. They require the previous two steps to be followed to even be considered in the moment of choosing pornography to arouse or food to create dopamine. This is usually the last step before we fully give in to our habit of buffering, regardless of what the buffer is. These are the final tip over the edge that creates the motion we call falling off the wagon. When in truth we pushed ourselves into this state. These beliefs are the kind of laughable thing a toddler might say to an adult to explain why they turned the kitchen into a flour based winter wonderland, complete with pasta sprinkles. When we hold them up to the light and see right through them no one is surprised and we wonder, ‘how could I have believed that?’This is likely the hardest place to intervene and ask questions, because it is closer to the end of the path of lucid thought and right on the cusp of being in the state of lower brain control. This is the point right before we let our habit running portion of our brain run the show and just get out of its way. immersing ourselves in the feelings rather than consciousness. There are, however, even in this moment questions that you can ask, that will give you a moment’s pause and an opportunity to get off the train. Whatever the thought your brain offered you, just question it. Directly. Is it really the last time? Have I told myself that before?
11 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
BONUS - Wive's Wednesday - Mom Jeans and Spinning Brains
Darcy shares her experiences.
7 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
How to make yours real.
23 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
Accountability partnersThere is often, in marriages and in the addiction model of pornography struggles, a question of, “what about my accountability partner?” Often, we ask this because we are seeking to have someone who will struggle through this with us and help us in those intense moments where we are believing the lies our brain tells us about how we don’t want to feel bad and pornography will help solve that immediate, acute struggle. As I was talking about this with a client this week, I urged him to use the plan ahead protocol that we teach to our individual coaching clients and in our membership, as well as, being radically honest with the people around him. In particular his mother. His response to me prompted this podcast. He said, “my mom struggled through my dad’s drug addictions as his accountability partner and isn’t really willing to do that for me. She said, I need to do this one on my own.”Her story was one of being crushed by the overwhelming burden of being the person who is supposed to help someone do something, and having absolutely no control or influence over that person’s behavior. She didn’t want to be “responsible” for her son the way she had been “responsible” for her husband all those years. What is the difference between being or having an “accountability partner” and being accountable to yourself while being open about our struggles?The traditional role of an accountability partner the way it was explained to me and the way I interpreted it, was that they were a person you checked in with regularly, they measured your progress, you called them when there was a crisis and they were the person who was going to talk you down off the ledge, convince you to stop, try to interrupt your model and get you back on the straight and narrow path. Sounds good right? Darcy, what do you think about this idea?Then there is the idea of partnering with yourself and if you desire one other person to help you just be honest out loud with what is going on for you. This is the person you are going to tell what is happening for you, while simultaneously expecting nothing from them. They aren’t there to talk you off the ledge, help you stop, or distract you from your problems. Really, what we are talking about is a vulnerability partner.Being willing to say what is really going on with you. Talk openly about your wants, struggles, feelings, and joys
31 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
Radical honesty. Not lying to self about what pornography does for you- I don’t want to feel frustrated the rest of the day – this is where it starts- Now’s a good time, - After I turn to pornography I won’t feel frustrated- Turning to pornography will help me forget- Being aware that your brain is trying to help you feel good now, not feel good about yourself. Or in the future – your brain is always in the momentBeing upfront about your pornography use. - Plan ahead, - Confess ahead- Stop acting like we don’t know the pattern- Owning the decisiono Don’t want to believe the things that you would believe about yourself if you were actively, consciously choosing it, rather than being caught off guard or a victim, or addicted,
22 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
Fear Not When talking about tough subjects
Fear NotIs it going to destroy your life if you drink a cup of coffee? What if you have sex outside of marriage? How about if you don’t eat meat sparingly and fruits and vegetables in the season thereof?We think the more that we oppose something, talk about how bad something is, create and perpetuate fear around it, the more we will be able to keep people, including ourselves, from doing it. So, we often tell stories of designed to highlight the absolute worst thing that could happen to a person should they engage in a particular behavior that is contrary to the gospel. When it comes to things like pornography, modesty, alcohol, or really anything we are striving to keep our kids and family members away from. We tell the stories of the one person we know who did, you name the sin, and lost everything. So to help us stop doing that we are going to tap into 2 timothy ch1 v 7 to talk about how we can stop stigmatizing what we find morally wrong and start living more fully within the gospel that heavenly Father has given us. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of afear; but of bpower, and of clove, and of a sound mind.Let’s start with power. I personally interpret this as agency. We have the power to chose what it is that we feel is right. Oftentimes, the fear side of things tells us that we are addicted, trapped, stuck. When we talk about our struggles this way we disempower ourselves and others. To take back power, we must accept our agency. Take responsibility for our choices. Stop saying “can’t” should, shouldn’t. Let’s move to loveCharity and love go hand in hand, but they also are complimented by empathy and understanding. I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t prefer love to a story of doom and gloom about their behavior. Just because we don’t agree with a behavior, doesn’t mean that telling horror stories is going to keep people from doing it. Last – sound mind. This is probably one of my favorite things within the gospel and often it gets short changed because we like hearing dramatic stories of revelations and hero stories of great triumph. But a sound mind, to me means that we just need to use our brains and the logic and gospel principles that God has given us. We can figure things out. we are pretty smart. The brother of jared comes to mind. He was sent back to come up with a solution. Only the parts we aren’t able to do, like lighting the stones, are where the lord wants to intervene because he wants us to grow. Shame cannot survive being spoken, it cannot survive empathy, brene brown.
46 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Bonus Episode - Ben Pugh and I talk about parenting and pornography
21 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Healthy sexuality is not a fear based avoidance of difficult sexual topics. We need to teach our children swimming skills- Agency- Repentance- AtonementWe need to model the skills of healthy sexuality with our kids. Want to work with Zach or Darcy. Set up a consult at zachspafford.com/workwithme
12 minutes | May 31, 2021
Three Minute Drill
Let’s talk about what coaching is. The kind of coaching that I do is called causal coaching. This work seeks to find the underlying issue that is creating the results in your life. This means that when someone comes to me and says, “I’m looking to eliminate a pornography habit from my life.” I seek to understand what is creating that habit. Many times that habit is a result of a lack of emotional skills. In my own life, I had a lack of understanding about what was driving my behavior and a lack of understanding on how to deal with what was driving my behavior. So the two skills I needed and everyone needs to begin cultivating to be successful in this work are 1. Awareness of the emotions that are created in their life by the thoughts they believe2. Practice dealing with those emotions without trying to avoid them, suppress them, or discount or negate them. For instance, when darcy would go on trips with the kids to see her family and I was left alone to work, I had to learn to recognize that I was feeling lonely and learn to understand the thoughts surrounding that feeling. Then I had to learn how to process that loneliness. How to accept it, feel it, and not avoid it. Sometimes, clients want to get a new emotion by just switching their thoughts or trying to skip past feeling the emotion. That’s a mistake. In this situation, I want to feel lonely because it serves me to recognize that when my family is gone, I miss them. In gaining an awareness of the emotion of loneliness through practiced Noticing, I was able to see it coming, see when I was most likely to turn to pornography. This helped me be able to make conscious choices, rather than following the easy path toward just seeking to feel good that my brain had often offered me. In addition to that, feeling loneliness fully allowed me to get good at feeling all of my emotions. So, when Darcy or the kids were on the phone, I could feel happy to talk to them more fully. When my clients work with me, they are responsible for taking practicing these new skills as often as possible. I call it off game work. Just like in sports, where we practice outside of the game to help us prepare to play our best in game time situations, this off game work is done by repeatedly engaging with the skill in non game time situations. For anyone trying to kick a habit, like pornography, overeating, or excessive phone use, practicing noticing your emotions on something that occurs regularly but isn’t the habit you are trying to eliminate gives perspective on what is happening in your brain. It empowers you to use those skills when powerful urges that you would normally give into come knocking. So, how do you take advantage of this newfound off game practice?Start by writing down what you are going to do and attach that practice session to a current habit. For instance, every time you brush your teeth, you can take 1 minute immediately afterward to practice being aware of how you are feeling and what your thoughts are that are creating that feeling. I like doing this in the mornings because, for many of us, this is a good time to reflect on what is happening that day, which can be a source of stress for the work we have to accomplish that day. Once you’ve done that, take 1 more minute to write down what thoughts are creating the feelings and what feelings you have. This is a small practice, but it will help you to become more aware of what is happening for you. Once you have written down your thoughts and feelings, take just one more minute, so we have a total of three minutes here, and practice feeling one of the emotions that you’ve written down. So, if the emotion is stress, practice feeling stressed. See where it happens in your body and how it feels in your body. As you do this you’ll find that you are much more capable of going through your emotions, feeling them to their fullest, and not running from them. This simple, three minute practice will pay huge dividends as you work through your pornography habit.
29 minutes | May 23, 2021
Climbing Life's Mountains
Register for webinar https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HgvmOmyPQn-fY2bDTWPjTwThe other day Zac h and I went hiking up Shadow Mountain with our 4 little kids. Just to get up to the base of the “Mountain” you have to climb up two very steep hills. The two toddlers were complaining about their legs being tired before we even got to the base..As we started to climb the “mountain” my brain started thinking in metaphors and how this hike up this “mountain” was a great metaphor for all the challenges we experience in life..As we began to climb it was pretty flat. Then it got steeper and steeper..There were points along the trail were the toddlers needed some help along the way or they wanted to hold hands to steady themselves..Then there were a few instances were the toddlers were not physically able to do the next step on their own and needed us to boost them up the boulders so they could continue on their way. There were points along the way where Zach had to carry our youngest..As we were climbing, if I looked up ahead at where our 9 year old boy was, (he likes to RUN up this “mountain”) it was easy to get discouraged and feel like we were so far behind and that we would never going to catch up to him..It was easy to think how lucky he is too have a healthy body that can scale this “mountain” in no time compared to the rest of us that went a lot slower..But, as we put one foot in front of the other we eventually got to the top of the “Mountain” just like Briggs. It took us WAY longer to get to the top but, we DID IT!!!.It was so awesome to look back down the “mountain” and see how far we had come..Sometimes moving away from pornography and moving closer to what we truly value in life can feel like a huge “mountain” to climb..The truth is all you have to do is keep moving forward and when you slip on the loose gravel on the path (like we all do) you get up, learn from it, and keep climbing..If you don’t give up eventually you will make it to the top of the “mountain!”
22 minutes | May 16, 2021
zachspafford.com/freecallEmotional debtWe’ve talked about this on the podcast before – we bought a house.It was super exciting for us to buy our house here in st g because, for about 18 months we lived in Milwaukee and missed all our friends and the life that we had here in st g. We are super excited to have the chance to buy our house. But when I look at the amortization table, which is the thing that tells you how much you end up actually paying for the thing you just purchased I cringe a little. In the end we’ll pay 2x the amount that we purchased the house for. When we talk about buffering we often just call it a behavior that creates a net negative in your life. While buying a house is probably not exactly a net negative in your life, in fact, hopefully it is a net positive, loans and money offer a great analogue for what we do when we buffer or really how we manage our emotions.Let’s talk about how we are both borrower and lender for our own emotions and how we can better manage that process by using some very simple math. I like to talk about emotions as the math of our lives for a couple of reasons. One is, I’m usually speaking with men and we men like to think of our life’s journey as a series of solvable puzzles and problems. Unfortunately, the men and women I work with often think that the emotional struggle that is often part of leaving pornography behind is a foreign land of mush and gush.Second, it really gives us some powerful perspective on what is happening and what it costs to choose certain ways of dealing with our lives.Here’s what the emotional loan process looks like. Let’s start with a really simple example. When we feel stressed and choose to turn to pornography, we feel arousal. Now if this is where the emotional exchange ended then we would be fine. That would be the end of it. The problem is that this is usually not where it ends. First, feeling arousal doesn’t actually deal with the reason why you might be stressed. So, if I’m stressed because of work, then turning to pornography won’t get my work done any faster. Second, that stressed feeling is now going to be compounded by additional negative feelings that I’m going to have to deal with as well. Just like interest, when we borrow a positive feeling from ourselves, like arousal, that doesn’t fit into our moral compass, we are creating an emotional loan that will be paid back with interest. So now, we have stress, guilt, shame, frustration, and maybe even more stress that wasn’t there before because we’ve spent time doing something that didn’t help us get work done and we are now even more behind. We’ve just created a 4 or 5 to one exchange. Imagine if someone walked up to you on the street and said, hey, I’ve got a nice crisp new dollar bill. I’ll give it to you for that crinkled up old 5er. You’d say, no thanks. But that is exactly what you are agreeing to when you take the emotional loan of arousal or overeating or checking our phone. We are taking an emotional loan from ourselves, short changing ourselves and paying back at a 5 to one ratio, sometimes more, in order to feel good right now. In the moment. When we feel a negative emotion, often times we look to mitigate it by using a good feeling emotion, like arousal, which is what we feel when we look at pornography. So, in that moment we have done what I like to call, taking an emotional loan. Meaning we have now borrowed a positive emotion from ourselves which we will need to pay interest on over time. The interest that we usually end up paying is a compounding of the negative emotions that we feel. So, just like buying a house, we take out a loan, we feel good, excited, and even comfortable when we use a buffer to enhance our emotional state in the short term. Then, once that emotional high point fades we have compounded our negative emotional state by layering in additional negative emotions like frustration, guilt, shame, and discomfort. Let’s talk about what being an emotional lender looks like. Why do banks and lenders give people loans?It isn’t because you are a nice person or even because you are a good credit risk. They do it because they want the interest. They want to get more out of the transaction than just their money back. They want to get the interest. This is a risk, by the way. this can be scary. Our lender gave us a big, huge amount of money up front so we could buy our house. They took a risk on us. We are going to have to be willing to take a risk on ourselves and believe in our ability to earn dividends and interest over time. Rather than needing to take the positive emotions up front. When that feeling of stress comes along, we don’t run from it, we don’t fight it, we don’t act like we have to avoid it. We process it. When we just go through the process of feeling our emotions, and then doing what we need to do anyway, we begin the process of giving our future self a loan. That means that we feel stressed, even when we don’t want to. But there is a huge payoff after we feel all the way through our negative feelings. That huge payoff comes, just like interest on a loan.After the negative feeling is processed and we choose not to view pornography or overeat or some other buffering behavior, we get to feel satisfied, maybe proud, maybe more capable, even self-confident. We get this whole menu of feelings that are more subtle and that we can keep getting time and time again. We get to feel good about who we are, who we are being, and how we are living in integrity with who we want to be. And I don’t think it is a one time thing. When we get good at feeling the negative feelings up front, I really do think that we get more dividends over time. When we are emotional lenders, rather than emotional borrowers we are receiving interest instead of paying it. And we are the only person we can borrow or lend to. There isn’t some where we can borrow from emotionally, because those feelings are inside us. So, we have to decide how we want to spend our lives.Do we want to spend our lives in perpetual emotional deficit or do we want to have an emotional surplus that will keep paying us dividends?Let’s talk about how to do this. I teach this to my members and my individual coaching clients in depth, and they love being able to go back to the training videos and workbooks available to them inside the membership. The process is really simple, but it is extremely important.First, you have to notice. Most of us really aren’t there at all. We go from moment to moment and think that whatever comes into our heads and the actions that we take are just happening to us. When we start to notice, we begin to step out of our unconscious, reactionary mind and bring to our concious mind all the actions and beliefs that are happening.This takes practice. Next we, say yes and no. Say yes, we can do whatever it is that our mind offers us to do so that we can feel good now and then we say no, thanks, I’m going to observe what’s going on here. This is different from using willpower because we are not fighting with our brain. We are observing while withholding action and questioning what is happening. This combo of yes/no is a lot like when someone says to us something like, “oh, you’re a Mormon, you can’t drink” and we say, I can but I choose not to. It is an acknowledgement that we are masters of our agency and able to choose either way. After that, we observe. We just watch, ask questions, and take notes. You can take mental notes or written notes, but just like an anthropologist we are looking at the behavior, thoughts and emotions that our brain is offering us and we are learning what is happening. Last, but essential to the process. We breathe. Deep breaths that help us fuel the body and mind while we become the watcher of our brains. This process, that we all need to learn is essential to being an emotional lender rather than an emotional borrower.
35 minutes | May 10, 2021
Darcy on how to be a mom who can talk to their kids about pornography.
Mothers day!As a mom how often do you talk to other moms about pornography and how often do you find that their kids are struggling?Mom’s often bear the burden of talking about pornography with their kids, what tips would you offer any mom who wants to begin creating an open dialogue with their kids around pornography?There is often a lot of guilt and shame for moms when they find out their child is looking at pornography. Why do you think that is?What ideas would you offer to moms to help them eliminate the shame for themselves so they can come to that conversation with their kids in a frame of mind that they can be pleased with?When you go to mothers retreats like the one you just attended, you seem to find that everyone wants to talk to you about your work once they find out about it. What would you say to women who don’t know who to talk to about the struggles they are having with pornography and their children?
20 minutes | May 2, 2021
I'm An Addict, Right?
zachspafford.com/freecall You’re addicted to pornography, Right?Monthly webinarT: The addiction Causes Problems. F: Stress· Addiction means I’m not responsible for my actions – · Addiction can be a rationalization that our brain offers when we want to believe we are a good person even though I don’t always live up to my values. · What is the value in believing “I’m an addict?”
16 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
Do you hold your husband to an impossible standard?
Do you hold your husband to a standard that you yourself can’t uphold?This idea has been on my mind a lot lately. We are all designed to notice beautyJust because we notice beauty it doesn’t have to mean anythingIs it possible to notice and appreciate beauty and still live in line with out values
14 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
Exercising Faith and Prayer to eliminate pornography - part 2
That’s faith. Let’s talk about prayer. I’ve often gone back to the bible dictionary to understand this principle and I am struck by what it teaches about the nature of prayer. First, it is work. So many of us go through prayer as though it were just an incantation that we learned to conjure the spell of this blessing or that. The way we pray over our food may be an example you can look to for what I mean. But work is uncomfortable, sometimes strenuous, and, often, marked by giving up something we want. Interestingly, one of the only things that we have that we can give up is our will. And in this context, our will is often, as much as it is anything in our lives, the desire to feel good here and now. When we layer that idea into our pornography use, it’s important to acknowledge that the thing we are often seeking when we seek out pornography is to feel good, here and now. In the ancient world, people hit themselves in the chest or tore their clothing as demonstrations of sorrow. They were, in their attitude of prayer, literally giving up comfort in the here and now and paying the cost of discomfort in giving up their will to God in that moment. Second, It is not a commandment, it is a conversation. It is an opportunity to acknowledge what we’ve been given by our Heavenly Father. It is an opportunity to discuss with him what we believe we need, want, and desire. Prayer is an intimate expression of our weakness and dependence on our Father. It is an opportunity to express and experience the love He has given us. Prayer, as far as I can tell, has two main purposes. Firstly, it is meant to help us bring our will into concert with that of God’s. Secondly, it is a place to seek out the blessings that are already ours, but that we are required to ask for. All of this, in my view, brings the discussion we are having with Heavenly Father about our pornography struggle into a bright highlight of what we might do better to fully realize the blessings our Father has in store. So lets start with the phrase that I used and I’m sure many of you have as well. “Lord, please take this pornography problem away from me.”That may not be your exact wording but, it is likely similar to things you’ve said in your moments of want and struggles to end pornography in your life. Let’s dissect where this type of prayer might miss the most powerful parts of prayer.First off, this sounds like we are giving up our will to HF. We’re thinking, I don’t want this problem any more, I can just ask HF to take it away and make it so that I don’t have to struggle with it, because I’ve asked for a clearly good thing. I’ve asked that I no longer look at pornography. But what this misses, is that in asking HF to “take this away” we are asking Him to be in charge of our choices. Problem there is, he gave you agency, he isn’t taking it back. It also doesn’t account for work. This is a want, a wish list item that doesn’t have any cost to it except that you asked for it. This is like a little girl who asks her dad for a pony. All she does is say, I want it and doesn’t create any path to making it a reality. But, you say, this is a blessing that God might be willing to grant. Sure, I think that might be possible. But I also think it is unlikely. To be honest, I don’t think HF cares if you look at pornography. I don’t think that sits high on his priority list of things to eliminate from your life. What I believe HF wants for each of us is an abiding testimony in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the Joy that atonement allows us to feel as we return to live with them. When we pray to have our problems removed from us, we are asking HF to help us circumvent the natural process of struggle, growth, and learning that makes each of us stronger spiritually. We are asking him to take away the hard parts of life so we can feel the good parts. This is essentially creating a reality where we are only being righteous because we don’t have temptation, trial, and struggle in our life. Feeling uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable. This type of prayer is asking God to break the rules for us. Because there is opposition in all things, we have to go through discomfort in order to be able to truly feel joy and comfort spiritually and physically. The work of prayer is partly figuring out what it is that we should be asking for and partly hearing answers that may challenge our sense of self, comfort, and life direction. When we pray, we don’t often ask for greater capacity to feel bored. We don’t look at prayer as a moment when we should ask HF to help us see more clearly how we can experience our upfront, in the moment, discomforts, so that we can better learn from them. We often ask for boredom to be eliminated and our pain points to be minimized so we hardly see them. As best I can tell, this doesn’t mean that we are out seeking to be miserable all the time. It is, however, us meeting our challenges head on and being willing to see the good in them, learn from them, and grow, while still seeing beauty in and being grateful for them. Let me give you an example. When I walk out my front door there is a hill that I can see that I climb multiple times a week. It is very steep, rocky, and strenuous to climb. The top is only about a quarter mile from my house but it is about a five hundred foot elevation change. It is equivalent to climbing the stairs of a 50 story building on foot. Why do I do it. Because I love the view from the top. It is beautiful. I can see both the santa clara side of st George and the temple side. It is my favorite view in the city. As a benefit, I also get stronger legs, stronger lungs, and greater fitness. It isn’t comfortable to climb that hill. It is worth it. When we go to HF in prayer, especially around pornography, we need to be able to talk about and do the work that will make the strength we want worth it. The view from a place of worthiness and self confidence is not available without the work that allows us to get to the top of that hill. It is, however, worth it. So, maybe we can ask for help practicing feeling our uncomfortable feelings instead of having them taken from us. Maybe we can ask for opportunities to see what we are missing, rather than asking for everything to be laid out for us. The struggle of getting up the hill is what makes us capable of staying there long term. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in miracles. I believe that some can have stark moments of change that completely shift their underlying habits and move them to a place where pornography is no longer part of their life. That was not my experience. I offer these thoughts as ideas based on my life, my experience, and understanding. This is the gospel according to zach. And if it is wrong, thank you for bearing with my own learning process. I hope this is helpful.
13 minutes | Apr 11, 2021
Faith and Prayer in eliminating Pornography - Part 1
Download the talk Zach mentioned on the podcast free. https://www.zachspafford.com/podcast-freebie
22 minutes | Apr 5, 2021
Easter, the Atonement and Agency
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