The Self Mastery Podcast

Oct 26 2020 21 mins 31

Learning to stop using pornography was the greatest challenge of my life. It had rocked my self confidence, tainted all of the most important experiences of my life and become the impossible challenge I was forced to live with as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here you'll learn about the struggle, how to overcome pornography use, and where to find additional resources to become a self mastery expert. At some point I took a step away from all the 12 step meetings and councilors and started to figure out my own brain, to look at my issue as something that I had the answer to and I was going to figure it out. Here I share those lessons and give you the power to start your own journey free. Whether you are the user or their partner, whether you feel stuck or just don't know where to start, here I will teach you principles, tools and skills that you can use today to change how you think and, in the end, what you do. You'll hear interviews with my spouse, with experts on human sexuality and with former and current pornography users on how you can overcome your own struggle with addictive behavior. The Self Mastery Podcast will bring new perspective to your struggle and keep you coming back to improve all aspects of your life.

Abdication v delegation
Oct 19 2020 8 mins  
Abdication v delegation I’m releasing this while I’m walking down a slot canyon somewhere in southern Ut so if you want to get together with me while I’m here, feel free to message me on Instagram zachspafford.theselfmasterycoach I love angelicas, the peruvian chicken place or even the Indian place.  On Friday two weeks ago I was in my weekly meeting with my friend Jody Moore, talking about interrupting mirroring and anthropomorphizing and all the fun stuff that we coaches talk about behind closed doors and as the discussion progressed a really interesting topic came up. We were talking about abdication vs delegation. This is something that I work on with my clients all the time.  Although I wouldn’t have called it this until we discussed it the other day.  All of us do some form of either of these at various times.  So, what is the difference between abdication and delegation.  When it comes to how we interact with our agency this distinction can really make or break your path back from an unwanted habit.    Our oldest has been learning to drive and as a result I have been learning to relax.   As I have been learning to relax I have been thinking about this relationship between abdication and delegation as it relates to my son and as it relates to our habits.  A couple of Sundays ago the oldest half of my kids and I went to church and left the younger ones at home with mom.  My oldest got in the driver’s seat and we headed off on the 8 minute drive.  Along the way he made a wrong turn and I gave him direction on how to get back on track.   As he drives, I pay attention to what he is doing with his hands, his eyes, his feet.  I help him with proper technique and sometimes I even yell stop when I think he’s going to hit something because he is driving too close to it.  All along the way I am still taking responsibility for the path we take and even how he drives.   Let me tell you about a different driving experience.  On the way to Utah Darcy and I took turns driving.   While she drove I would try and get some sleep because I knew that it would be my turn soon enough because we were going from Milwaukee to st George a 24 hr trip that we wanted to do in one shot.   As she drove I rarely paid attention.  Obviously, I would sleep at certain points so it was entirely her responsibility to get us from point a to point b.  I took no responsibility for how she changed lanes, where her hands were posisitioned or whether she was watching the road.   Abdication is giving up the responsibility for the decision making.  Delegation is retaining responsibility for the decision making.  Each has it’s place in our lives. But what I find when it comes to certain habits is that we are often abdicating when delegating would yield better results and more closely yield the outcomes we are striving toward.  When I talk to clients, often they have abdicated their agency on certain topics.  Pornography is one of them.   We think, I can’t ever look at pornography because it is unacceptable. Or with weight loss, we think, I can’t eat certain foods because they will make me gain weight.  What we are doing when we do that is relinquishing our capacity to choose and allowing our lower brain to drive decisions based on the motivational triangle rather than what will be fulfilling for our long-term happiness.  Listen to the following phrases, “I’m powerless against my addiction” or “I can’t stop using pornography” or “I shouldn’t look at pornography”. Each one of these phrases places the responsibility for pornography viewing outside of our immediate control. And therefore outside our responsibility to choose.   I’m...

Learn Something, Move Forward
Oct 12 2020 14 mins  
Learn Something, Move Forward Taking stock of lapses by learning something and moving forward is the only way to put it behind you. Each time we do the thing we promised we would never do again we tend to beat ourselves up. We often treat it like we are never going to get past it, we think we are lost, unworthy and powerless. That wallowing and self pitying approach keeps us from learning. It keeps us from figuring out the next thing we need to learn to move forward with life in a way that creates the person that we want to be.  The moment you let yourself be the object of your own pity and scorn you've lost the opportunity to learn from what happened and you're likely to make the same mistake in the future.  Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ― Thomas Edison This is where the purposeful practice of Learn Something, Move Forward comes into play. When mistakes occur, because they will, take the time to learn from them. This practice is one of self reflected love. Viewing our mistakes the way our parents would have viewed our stumbling baby steps as we learned to walked. With eagerness for us to learn and grow. Not with scorn, derision and shame.  In my program I often have people work through one of the many micro courses I teach to learn something and move forward.  Often their response is, “I know that I’m not supposed to use pornography already” or “I already know that I want to stop this habit.” What they are looking at is the end result, expecting that they already know everything they need to know about the way they are thinking, how they are processing their emotions and how they are required to behave so they can feel worthy, strong and lovable.  Let’s take the example of a baby learning to walk.  8 kids Baby sees running, starts to run and falls on face and cries No inspection of movement, No testing of skills No trial and error Just “I’m supposed to be able to run” Falling on face and crying How long would it take for that baby to learn What will that baby miss How will that baby learn Questions you can ask yourself.  What did I view and how long that wasn’t planned?  2  What was the Situation that started this lapse? What was the feeling or desire I had? What was the thought that caused the desire or urge?  Did I try to resist or did I just react?  Did I try to allow the urge? What worked and what didn’t?  6  What did I learn?  What will I do next time?  How can I let this go now?  How do I want to feel about this moving forward?   

How do I know I'm ready to change?
Oct 05 2020 14 mins How can I tell that I’m ready to change? Costs outweigh the benefits.  -       Buffering provides something -       Acknowledge those benefits. -       How do you want to feel when you think about pornography -       “Client said, I want to feel disgusted.” -       That doesn’t acknowledge what pornography has done for you -        -       That also doesn’t acknowledge what it is costing you -       It is just a judgement that makes you feel disgusted because you like pornography -       So, honestly acknowledging the costs and the benefits of use will allow you to make the cost benefit analysis  -        Wanting vs commitment -       For the better part of 25 years I wanted pornography out of my life.   -       I pleaded with Heavenly Father to take this problem away from me -       For lots of years it was just a want, the way a little girl wants a pony.   -       I would ask and think that I just deserved it because I asked for it.  -       .   -       It wasn’t until after we got married and Darcy found out about my pornography use that I really got committed.  -       It wasn’t until it was costing me my self confidence and I was desperate to stop feeling like a terrible person who was never going to get rid of this problem that I started to take action.  -       I started with bishops, who were great and loved me.  -       They didn’t have the answers, they were there for me to confess but not to give me tools.  -       They sent me to counselors who were there to hear where I was and witness my struggle and validate my feelings, but didn’t have any answers, didn’t have any real world idea of how I was doing and why I was where I was.   -       They just told me I was an addict.   -       So that lead me to the twelve steps… which was full of earnest men, trying to move forward with their lives.  -       but  that time only served to reinforce that I was “powerless against my addiction” -        -  -       Then when we had the twins, I took a step back. I saw that none of this had gotten me where I wanted to go. -       So I committed to figure it out by looking into my own mind, true principles that I could see from a gospel perspective and all the things I learned that made sense from what I had done before.  -        -       This is what being committed looks like.   -       Trying. -       Trying again,  -       Trying something new -       Trying something different -       Trying anything I hadn’t tried before   -       Trying things that were harder than anything I had done before -       I spent $40,000 and...

How much power does pornography have?
Sep 28 2020 27 mins  
Webinar: How much power does pornography have? So many of us want pornography to have no power over husbands, over our children, over our own lives. Yet, so many of us allow pornography to have so much power over us.  Why?   Let’s just talk, for a minute about the attractive capacity of pornography.  Let’s be honest – the human body is beautiful, arousal feels great, climax is enjoyable.  When we see others doing something that is beautiful, arousing and enjoyable even outside of pornography, that fires all kinds of empathic receptors in us.  As humans, part of this group of creatures that our Father in Heaven has put on the earth to learn and grown, empathy and mimicry are key components of our survival and success.   We are also creatures of comparison.  We look at someone and we think about how we compare to them.  Are we taller or shorter, better looking or not as handsome, stronger or weaker, all of that is part of the game our brains play to determine if we are sexually compatible with or mating rivals with others.    Add to that the human sex response, which is one of the strongest drives within our system, and you can see how pornography might draw you in and keep you entertained for a long time.   When I think of all the things I just mentioned and how so much of our biology drives us toward this highly pleasurable, highly rewarding, low cost option, it’s no wonder that the statics show that in one study of 18-35 year olds over a six month period, 98% of men and 73% of women reported internet pornography use.   That is astounding.  I would hope that the figures are lower among LDS Men and Women, but without data on that, I’ll just say that these figures give us a picture of it’s overall usage within society.  So what does someone get from viewing pornography. And again, my goal is to be clear and honest about what I perceive to be the realities of the issue.  Just as we discussed on my podcast “get on the map” you need to know where you are so you can get to where you want to be.  From my perspective the number one and most significant reason, and possibly the only reason many people who have a moral objection to pornography viewing continue to view pornography is, pornography relieves uncomfortable or negative feelings.  I want to note that I saw a post on social where a wife was saying that the husband was viewing pornography occasionally but that they were unclear why he kept going back to it.  It was something they had tried to figure out, but had no success doing.  This is why coaches often say, it’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle.  This is one of those things that demonstrates to me why everyone should have a coach.  Tiger Woods has a coach, Tom Brady has a coach, CEO’s, business leaders, world leaders and presidents all have coaches because they want to be the best they can be.  And even the most brilliant among us sometimes has trouble seeing how our swing might be adjusted, how our actions might be improved, and how our thoughts are creating a result that is no longer serving us.   For those men and women who are dealing with pornography use that they would rather not have in their lives, most often they are doing so as a way to address the feelings they are untrained in dealing with.  What I mean by that is, all of us have coping mechanisms that we use to feel more at ease in various situations, some of them create long term positive outcomes and others create long term negative outcomes.   For most pornography users that I work with, they feel the momentary and immediate relief created by arousal and as a result their...

Believing you are an addict
Sep 21 2020 15 mins  
If you’ve ever been to a 12 step meeting you’ve heard the phrase, “Hi, my name is Zach and I’m an addict”. ·⁠ Almost everyone I’ve worked with thinks they’re “addicted to porn”. ·⁠ What if, instead of believing, “Hi, my name is Zach and I’m an addict” we believed something else.   ·⁠ I used to think that I was addicted to pornography, there was something in my brain that made it so I would return to pornography because I was “powerless against my addiction”.  ·⁠ I hated it.   ·⁠ I felt like I was trapped, incapable of real change because I would always be an addict. I felt like I would be forever at the mercy of this problem and I would always have to be on the look out to keep it at bay.  ·⁠ It was exhausting.  ·⁠ Eight years ago, after we had our twins, giving us six kids seven and under, my wife said to me, “I need you at home and if all these meetings you are going to for 12 steps and counselors aren’t making this better, I would rather have you here to help me with the kids.” ·⁠ It wasn’t a demand, but it was pretty close.   ·⁠ As I looked at the previous years and took stock of what I had learned and the progress I had made, I knew I had plateaued.   ·⁠ Now was the time to try something new, something different, something that I didn’t know how to do and that I had never done before.  ·⁠ I took a step back and started to look at my brain differently. I started to ask myself questions about what I was thinking and believing and doing that was keeping me tied to pornography viewing. ·⁠ In that work, something occurred to me.   ·⁠ At every meeting I had ever been to with the 12 steps the prescribed phrase to introduce yourself to the group is “I’m an addict”.  ·⁠ But not everyone uses that phrase. Some say, “I’m a recovering addict” and some say, “I used to be addicted.”  ·⁠ I realized that what they were really saying was that being an “addict” means I’m stuck, a victim, unchangeable.  ·⁠ What if you could believe, “I used to look at pornography, but now I don’t”? ·⁠ Your brain will find evidence that it true. Your emotions will drive actions that make it true.  ·⁠ Most importantly, you’ll begin to become free.  #theselfmasterypodcast #realrecovery

Get on the Map
Sep 06 2020 30 mins  
Download the roadmap free here: Sign up for my free webinar here: Get on the map Free webinar on Sunday Sept 13 at 830 Mt time.  When I lived in Alaska my friends and I loved to go out into the woods and camp I loved the ferns. I loved the birch trees that had such great bark for starting fires.  I loved four wheeling and snow mobile-ing with my friends.   But, on occasion I would go out alone.  I would test my capabilities. I would camp on the side of a mountain alone.   In those moments I needed to rely on my ability to read a map and orient myself on the map.  One of the most important skills in reading and following a map is knowing where you are.  Knowing where you are is the very first thing you must do if you want to end up getting to where you want to go.  If you don’t correctly identify your position on the map you are trying to follow, you will invariably end up in a place you were not intending to go.  The same is true of pornography use  In fact, just this week I had a conversation with someone who enrolled in my individual coaching program who was very frustrated because he had done so much work, put in so much effort in so many important and critical ways. Yet, he didn’t feel like he was succeeding.  As we spoke it became clear to me that he had not yet admitted to himself that he had been using pornography because it had helped him deal with his stress and with his loneliness.  That’s right, I said it helped him.  In those moments when he had been stressed, it had provided relief.  In those moments when he had been lonely it had given him a break from his feelings.  So many of us would just like to demonize pornography and users of pornography.   It is a convenient and easy story that makes it so we stand on moral high ground, seemingly above the problem.  We say things like, pornography is just the next step toward infidelity. We believe that people who use pornography are addicted and powerless.  We hide it and hide from it whenever people discuss it because that kind of person is disgusting and they look at things that are disgusting and everything about pornography is disgusting.  When this is what we believe about pornography and by extension, inference and explicitly users of pornography we are creating shame that withholds from the users and from ourselves the love that we all truly crave and wish for all of our HF’s children.  -       Just ask yourself, where did Jesus spend his time? -        -        -       Moral high ground doesn’t help anyone What I really find interesting about this is that it is not just the wives who think and believe and behave this way.  It is the user’s themselves.  Just like my client who had up to that point, not really accepted where he was on the map, we all try to pretend that things are different than they really are.  We do this so we can feel good about ourselves. We do this so we can feel good about our judgement of ourselves and others.  Strange right: Pornography users judge themselves for using pornography the same way non-users do.  Here’s the problem.  None of that helps you become the person you want to be.  None of that helps you find the path away from pornography.  None of that is even true. All of those thoughts actually hold you back from becoming the person that you want to be, if you are the user, and can hold your spouse back from being the person they want to be, if you are...

Own your life - 3 keys
Aug 24 2020 26 mins Mastering pornography means dealing with discomfort A lot of my clients come to me with this one question, why do I behave one way, when I believe I should behave another.   A lot of you are listening to this podcast because of pornography use, but this work and all the principles apply to any unwanted behavior that you might be engaging in.   But I’m going to use the example of pornography. We ask, “why do I turn to pornography, when I know that it is against my values, I want to stop using it, and I am causing myself so much shame because I use it?” They never ask it like that, but essentially that is what they are all asking, in one way or another.  They ask that because they feel stuck in one way or another.  They often feel like there is no way to quit this habit because they go back to it time and again.  At its core pornography use is an escape from discomfort. that goes against our values, damages our sense of self confidence and leaves us with a sense that we lack control over our own behavior  Why do we use pornography when it goes against our values? Because it helps us escape discomfort in a moment. Why do we use pornography when we want to eliminate its use from our behaviors?  Because it feels good when we are feeling bad. Why does our pornography use go contrary to our sense of control of how we want to behave? Because we tell ourselves that we should behave differently than we are.  So, if we are using pornography to escape discomfort and feel good, while simultaneously telling ourselves that we should behave differently, it’s no wonder that we might feel stuck and trapped by this behavior. We believe one thing, we do another.  So, in order to reconcile that disconnection we have to rationalize what is happening.  Sometimes that means that we call ourselves addicts.  Sometimes that means that we say we are powerless.  Sometimes we tell ourselves that we deserve this indulgence because someone or something outside us made it our only recourse to feel good. No matter the exact way we do it, in some way or another, in order to maintain our sense that we are a good person we tell ourselves a story that makes what we are doing somehow ok, at least for a moment.   Then we beat ourselves up. We tell ourselves that we are stuck in this decision because we aren’t making a different decision I had a client this morning, talking about his career said, “I know I’m not gonna quit, so that puts me in this box of not having a choice.” His statement there is really telling.  He says, “I know I’m not gonna quit.”  Which is a statement that shows that he is making this decision.  If he had stopped there and been ok with that statement, then he would be in a position of power over his choices and fully realizing his ownership of where he is.  But the second part of his statement, “that puts me in this box of not having a choice” which he believes, makes him a victim of his own choice.  He is his own captor.  Partly because he is telling himself a story that the decision he made is now not his.  He externalizes the cause of why he feels trapped.  It’s subtle, but if you listen closely, he says, that now he’s in a “box of not having a choice.” We do this with pornography, we do this with food, we do this with anything in our lives that makes us feel trapped or stuck because we see it as detrimental to our long-term happiness.  For example, “I can’t believe I ate that entire thing, but it’s just so good I couldn’t stop.” This story tells us that the thing we ate made us a victim because it was so good.   Take out the can’t and the couldn’t and the story...

The Day I Lost My Job
Aug 16 2020 10 mins  
Join this month's webinar, Register Here: Let me tell you about the day I lost my job.   It was Mother’s Day and the person that let me go was also my best friend.   He let me go because he had hired me to do a job that I wasn't qualified for and I didn't provide him any real value other than he liked having me around.   Now his company was going through a rough patch and I needed to go, since I was the least useful person on his staff making the most money.   It was a relief.   The truth was, I had been moving away from working with him for a few months.  I was not just there to provide value, I was there to babysit my friend who wasn’t very self motivated.   Don’t get me wrong, he had a good income and a great life and that is why he could and did hire me.  But he also needed someone to sit next to him while he was on the computer and watch his screen so he wouldn’t look at pornography while he tried to work.   Once I made the mistake of working on my computer, facing the same direction as he was, arm’s length apart from him but looking at my own computer and not his.  He was at a standing desk, I was sitting.   I was working merrily along, trying to build us a new company.   He walked out of the room, I assumed to go to the bathroom or talk to his kids (we worked at his home office).   Suddenly his wife came storming in and said, “you need to put your computer up on his desk so you can see his monitor at all times, because he can’t be trusted.” My friend, sheepishly, came back to his desk, right next to mine, an armlength away from me and started typing while his wife stood there with her head practically in flames.   He had been looking at pornography right next to me.  He had been flicking back and forth from what he was doing for work and what he was doing to feel arousal.   That moment was one of the last times I actually worked side by side with my friend.  It was probably the beginning of a rough patch in our friendship and certainly the beginning of the end of our business dealings.   You see he had been using me, as he had been using so many other people and things in his life, to keep him “safe”.   Once he no longer felt that I was able to keep him safe while he worked, we only worked together maybe two more times in the next 3 months.   I had watched and studied my friend for years at this point and I knew a few things about him.   Part of the reason I believe he had hired me was that I had been open with my struggle to overcome pornography use in my life and he desperately wanted to stop using pornography himself.   There are a lot of reasons he probably never will. He has, by his own estimate and his wife’s, had an episode a week on average for fifteen years with little change.   But that moment, the moment he viewed pornography while I was sitting next to him made me think of a moment in my own past that I feel so ashamed to admit.  Until now, I’ve never told anyone, not even my wife.   I had done the same thing years earlier, on a sleepy road, in a little duplex, sitting on my couch with my friends in the room, facing me, while I was on my laptop.  I looked at pornography while I was chatting with my friends in my living room.   Until this moment, no one else but me knew it.  My friends, whom I love dearly and still keep in contact with have no idea.   In writing this, I feel empathy for my friend more than anything.   I am disappointed for my friend, not in him.  I am sorry that he is dealing with this, not angry that...

What role are you playing
Aug 09 2020 18 mins  
Register for this month's webinar: There are three natural roles that we tend to gravitate to in our relationships with others.  Steven Karpman codified these in what he called the drama triangle.  Understanding how these roles work can really help each of us figure out where we are in this space and then, ultimately move out of the triangle into the fourth role that is where we all want to be.  The thing about these roles is that we tend to occupy each of the roles at some point or another.  When it comes to our behavior, and especially addictive behaviors that we want to stop, this can be a real stumbling block to real progress in the search of becoming the best person we can be.  The other thing is that how you move from each of the roles in the drama triangle to the role that you ultimately want in order to maximize fulfillment and minimize the pain that you are creating and feeling is slightly different.  The three roles in the drama triangle are – victim, villain or prosecutor and hero or rescuer.  The role that you want to have and the one that will bring you the most long term satisfaction is that of what I call the owner.  Let’s take a look at each role and then we’ll talk about how you can move out of the drama triangle and into the owner role.  Victim –  This is probably the most self-explanatory  role.  When you are the victim you feel powerless, helpless and stuck.  For someone that is dealing with pornography use as the user, they might think, “I’m an addict” or “I’m powerless against my addiction”  For someone who is working at a job they might think, “This is the best job I’ll ever get, I can’t leave it”  For a spouse of someone who is overeating they might think, “I’m stuck with this person forever.” At it’s most extreme These are people who believe that the world is happening to them.  Nothing goes right in their life and nothing good ever happens.   You might describe them as an energy vampire.  Always sucking the energy out of life and unable to give anything back.   The issue with being the victim, as you might have surmised, is that, in their mind at least, nothing is their fault, nothing is in their control and they can do nothing to make their life better.  Villain/persecutor –  This is the person who is self righteous and can even show up as a bit of a bully.  In this role the person taking responsibility for the actions of others.  They do this from a judgmental and self-satisfied tone.  In a marriage this person might believe, “my husband just needs to stop looking at pornography, it’s that simple” At the office this might look like, “If accounting doesn’t like the way we are doing this, then they can come up here to sales and do it themselves.” As a parent you might get something along the lines of, “I saved your butt once before on this, you never learn, I don’t know why I even try” In that last one you can see how fluid these roles can be, in that you see someone might have been the hero before, but now they are really laying into the other person.   Hero/rescuer –  This is a person who takes responsibility for other people’s problems and make it their own, even though, in their own life they may not have their own life together.   This is the person who will come in and spend a lot of energy in a short period trying to fix someone else’s issues, often at the expense of their own  So this is a person who may believe something like, “if I help this person they will appreciate me” When spouses fill this role it often looks something like being in charge...

Who you think you are, who you are and who you want to be
Aug 03 2020 17 mins  
Follow this link to get the download Zach Takes about during the podcast. ( Join us for this month's free webinar : who we think we are, Who we are and who we want to be.  This week one of my clients was talking about his life and the choices he had made His story, the thing that he believed about his life was, “I didn’t have the courage to make a different choice” He wasn’t talking about pornography, he was talking about his career choices.  He comes from a family where what his parent’s want for him is extremely important.  His values make it so that deferring to them is part of his culture and his identity.  He also wants to be successful.   It is part of the fabric of his community that he needs to be able to provide for his family, be a pillar in his community and to give back.  He actually chose to be a doctor.  He is practicing medicine every day and questioning it, questioning his fellow doctors if this is what they really want to be doing and wondering if he can last.  Now before you judge him and say, ‘well he’s a doctor, he has it great, why should he complain’ I want to take a moment to explore this thought that he has from the lens of these three ideas: Who we think we are Who we are And who we want to be.  Let’s start by going back to the story he is telling himself.  “I didn’t have the courage to make a different choice.’ This is the story of who he thinks he is.  What does that thought mean? It means that he failed, that he wasn’t who he wanted to be, that he wasn’t even who he chose to be.  It’s a story of a victim.  A victim of circumstances someone who was pushed in a direction he never wanted to go but found himself there because of forces beyond his control and at the behest of others with no capacity to decide for himself and only responsibility for what he didn’t choose.  Often when we look back at our lives, the story we tell ourselves is one of regret and disappointment.  Things we didn’t do, things we shouldn’t have done, or things we wish we had.  We might believe this perspective is objective, valid and helpful in driving us to greater heights, better outcomes, and more effective decision making.  But take a look at how you feel when this is the story you tell yourself.   Disappointment Most of us know what that feeling is like.  Even if this isn’t the story you tell yourself, yours might be, “I wasn’t as go a missionary as I could have been.” Or “I should have overcome this problem sooner.” Whatever the story, ask yourself, is this version of my history helping me become the person that I want to be by creating the feelings that drive me to improve, focus and succeed.  I can tell you how it worked for this client.   His disappointment brought him to second guess himself, avoid his thoughts about his career and how he might change his life, tell himself that he stunk.  He also treated others differently, he would second guess his friends choice of career, would be abrupt with his patients and be unfriendly and unengaged.   This creates a world for him where not only did he not have the courage in the past, but he also doesn’t have the courage to do what he wants now. Keeping him a victim of his circumstances and beholden to the past, his perception of his family’s wants and his perceived inability to become the person he wants to be.  I can tell you I have seen myself in this exact place.   At one point when I was in my career I felt trapped and incapable of moving forward.  I had to be someone I...

How to know if you can trust your spouse again
Jul 19 2020 35 mins  
This is how you can register for the webinar. ( or you can go straight to my website: This is the link to Brene Brown's YouTube video. ( -       Brene brown is talks about this in her SUPERSOUL SESSIONS: THE ANATOMY OF TRUST . -       First, Brené references Charles Feltman work on trust and uses his definition.  -       Which is, ‘trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else’ -       In the case of pornography use, what is it that we spouses making vulnerable? Darcy:  -       For many women, this is right at the top of the list for what they would call a nightmare scenario.  -       This is probably something that many of them worry about because of how they anticipate they will feel  -       I think the moment you get married you have placed this all important and sacred eternal life in the hands of a partner -       I think the thing that feels most vulnerable when you find out that your husband is using pornography is that you may have just lost everything  -       That’s devastating.  -       For members you are committing to eternal marriage -       You feel vulnerable -       Wonder if your marriage is in jeopardy Darcy: What about the users, what are they making vulnerable? Zach: -       I think this is, for so many men, their greatest failing and for many of us a huge source of shame -       Which, when we are either found out or confess, is a huge moment of vulnerability to the actions of the non-user -       What will they do? -       How will they react? -       How much should I tell them? -       Are all questions that run through our minds.  -        I think its also important to touch on what distrust is as well.  ‘Distrust is what I have shared with you that’s important to me is not safe with you.“  again from Charles Feltman This is really important when we take a look at the two things that are vulnerable for the two parties.  For the men – They have probably just participated in talking about the thing that they are most ashamed of For the women – they have had the thing they hold most dear ripped up in front of them.  The thing that the men hold dear is their ability to be a worthy, loving husband.   The thing the women hold dear is their ability to have a worthy, loving husband.  Darcy: So, I think this is a moment where, wives react in a way that takes what the husband has done and puts her in a position of distrust as well.   He has acted in a way that creates distrust by taking the spoken or unspoken agreement that he would not use pornography and not kept it safe.   So, this moment is where she now has his most vulnerable and important sense of self in her hands.  I’ll be honest – the thing I did and the thing so many of us want to do is to tell him we’re leaving or if you keep doing this we are...

Wanting vs Committed
Jul 12 2020 22 mins  
-       Do you really want to or is there a part of you that isn’t willing to let it go yet? -       Choosing to do this on purpose. -       Not waiting until you never look at porn to have the confidence to be a free person -       Commitment vs wanting – if you want something that doesn’t mean you will be able to get it. -       To want is to desire or wish for something – there is no action required – it is passive -       Wanting is really easy – all you have to do is think “I want this” -       There is no risk involved.   -       It doesn’t require anything of us. -       Saying “I want to stop looking at porn” isn’t going to get it done -       It increases desire without any positive results – which can create a negative result in that you think you are doing something without results –  -        -       When we think we  are doing something without results we are creating failures -       This is proof in our heads that we are failing.  -        -       When we want something but aren’t doing anything to get it we are creating a gap that our brain tells us is insurmountable.  -        -       When we are committed we promise to do something.  -       Have you ever said to someone, “I’m going to get this done”.  Whether is was, going into a certain profession or building something that you had no experience doing? -       As you go through that process, in your mind, you never waver. -        -       You know it is going to happen no matter what.  -        -       That is committed.  -        -       Action is required – until you get to the place you want to be. -         -       You aren’t waiting for it to happen before you believe in it.  -        -       Being committed is uncomfortable and challenging.  -        -       It also gets results -        -       You will have to do things differently and think about circumstances differently -       You have to see the world differently than you do now to make that thing happen -       A really simple example of this in my life has been becoming a podcaster.  -       I had no idea how to podcast 6 months ago.  -       It wasn’t even on my radar.  -       Then I wanted to be a podcaster because I thought it would be a great way to get the message out that there is help and there is a way forward for people who struggle.  -       But that didn’t make me a podcaster. -       For months before I really committed to doing it I wanted it and I thought about it and I...

4 Simple steps to stop using pornography
Jul 05 2020 18 mins  
#addictionrecovery 1.     Write down the websites you will visit that day a.     Writing down the websites gives your higher brain control over the situation.  b.     Why not just write the sites you won’t visit – there are too many to count c.     If that day you visit a site that leads to pornography use, evaluate that site for tomorrow.  d.       2.     Only visit those sites a.     What if I have to visit a site that isn’t on my list for the day?                                                i.     If it’s for work, then you do it.                                               ii.     If it isn’t for work, then you need to make a judgement call. You are the owner of this process and when you are free of pornography then you will be making these calls all the time.                                               iii.     You may decide that if there is a site you need to visit, that you will have your spouse do it with you                                             iv.     Or you may decide that it can wait until tomorrow.  b.      3.     Allow urges a.     What is an urge? b.      4.     Repeat  #masterymonday #addictionrecovery #theselfmasterypodcast #latterdaysaintsdealingwithpornographyinmarraige #LDS #latterdaysaints #pornographyrecovery #sarecovery #ldssa #12steps

Four Secret Steps To Help Your Spouse Stop Using Pornography
Jun 08 2020 29 mins  
If you want to register for the webinar to help decondition urges and stop using pornography follow this link: If you want to set up a free consult so you can be in the July 1 Group Coaching Program follow this link: 1.     Choose love So often those who are dealing with spouses that have chosen addictive behavior feel like we are supposed to punish their behavior.  In doing that, we lose the perspective of love that we once had.   Choosing love doesn’t mean that you need to allow your spouse to abuse and overrun you.  It also doesn’t mean that you give in to the demands of a spouse who is manipulating you.   Choosing love does mean that what you say, what you do and who you show up as come from a place of love.  In place of saying things like, “I hate what you are doing in our home and what you have become” you can say, and mean, “I love you. This behavior is not ok.” Choosing love is for you.  It is so you can be the person that you want to be in the moment of your interaction.  It is so you can lead your relationship by example.   Being the  person you want to be in your relationship will help bring your entire marriage up, not just changing you but also, indirectly changing your partner.   Love is what you experience toward another.  Other people don’t feel your feelings.  You feel them. Which means, how you feel is how you act and how you act creates your results.   Choosing love does not mean we allow others to break the boundaries that we have set within the relationship.  If you have set a boundary that for 48 hours after your spouse looks at pornography sexual intimacy is off the table, then hold firmly and lovingly to that boundary.  Be clear, keep it simple and love without condition.   2.     Give up the need to be right a.     No real benefit to being right b.     Need to be right is misguided c.     When you do, tension will dissipate What has being right ever given you?  Has being right ever taken something from you? In a loving, committed relationship being right at the expense of the other person doesn’t bring us together, it usually creates an unnecessary wedge.   My parents have this running bet.  Any time one feels they are right about some inane thing and the other is not relenting, they will say, “I’ll bet your $300”.  No one keeps score, no one knows who is ahead, no money is ever passed to the “winner” because there is never a winner. It is their way of saying, “it doesn’t matter, let’s move on”.   When it comes to pornography use, you may believe deep down that you are right about what is happening. You may “know” that if your partner would just stop doing x or start doing y that they would be able to move forward and stop regressing to unhealthy buffering with pornography.  The question you have to ask is, “is being right making my partner change?” The answer is invariably, “no.” I’m also not saying that you have to be wrong.  You don’t have to give up on your opinions or act as though your position is unimportant.  If you love the person, being right doesn’t make them love you more and doesn’t make you love them more.  Give up being right and you will find yourself free from so much conflict.  3.     Stop trying to control the other person a.     We want others to do things b.     Adults get to behave however they want c.     We can’t control others without creating problems...

Willpower is the wrong tool
Jun 01 2020 18 mins  
Every time I meet with a client I hear something along these lines.  I try to stop but I just can’t – I have been fighting through this my whole life – My whole world is burning down because of this addiction.  I am keeping it at bay, but I want to be free from this. This is the place most of us go to when we try to stop a habit in our lives.   Most of us try to use willpower to change our habits In fact, I get comments like this on my Facebook page all the time.  They say things like, “just stop it”  Maybe you’ve heard something similar from a friend, spouse, bishop This kind of language is the language of going into battle.   It is that keeping it at bay and believing you could lose everything as another client put it that is hindering your progress That is not going to get you all the way there.   So many of us have put our fullest attentions and greatest efforts into quitting pornography only to be drawn back into it after a period of sober living.  That is because we used willpower to fight what has become our most difficult habit. Willpower is a recipe for short gains, long term struggle because willpower is a trap, great book “change anything” talks about this in depth . It talks about how we may have half a dozen things influencing us to continue a habit while employing just one strategy to negate it. The book also demonstrates that it is not about some innate ability or capacity that makes us stronger than our friends or peers.  “…people (often) believe that their ability to make good choices stems from nothing more than their willpower – and that their willpower is a quality they’re born with or they’re not – they eventually stop trying altogether.  The willpower trap keeps them in a depressing cycle that begins with heroic commitment to change which is followed by eroding motivation and terminated inevitably by relapse into old habits. Then, when the built-up pain of their habits becomes intolerable, they muster up another heroic but doomed attempt at change.” Willpower is what we think we lack when we tell ourselves that we just didn’t want to quit bad enough Willpower can only take you so far because your brain is not designed to use willpower for lasting change.   Willpower is strictly a short term tool The problem with willpower is that it is a power of struggle.   When we use willpower we are simply fighting, battling out against the one person we can’t beat, ourselves.  There is this new will smith film called Gemini man where I think that is essentially the premise of the film.   That resistance, that battle, that warrior mentality, it is costly in terms of energy.  In change anything, the premise of the book is that you can change anything you want in your life, if you have the right skills.  In my individual coaching sessions I teach people a lot of skills. The webinars I do, are about teaching people skills.  Today I’m going to teach you the first of three essential skills that I will be teaching live on June 17.  If you are interested in attending that, please go to my website, and click on free coaching call. That will take you to a zoom registration page where you will get all the info you need to join the call.  If you want to stop using pornography, you need to know how to do these three things. I only have time for the first today, but this skill alone will make a huge difference in your life.  One of the most important skills you can learn is how to say, “no” to your urges to go down the rabbit hole.   Think about how you say no, when you really mean it. Especially with something that might frustrate you.   If someone is repeatedly trying to get you to do something that you don’t like, you say, “NO!”  There is abruptness, there is a clenching, there is a tightening against the thing...

Pain now or Pain Later
May 24 2020 12 mins  
Pain now or later.  Almost every time I get a new client the first thing that they learn is that they have been putting off their pain.   Each of us has discomfort that we deal with on a regular basis.   Pain comes in lots of forms, some more painful in a moment than others.  Some are physical pains like going to the dentist and others are emotional pain like loneliness.   The thing is, that when we avoid painful things in search of short term happiness and pleasure, we are usually setting ourselves up for long term pain that is worse and more damaging than the pain we were avoiding.  A perfect example of this happened to me at the start of this covid quarantine.  Darcy had noticed that one of my front teeth was looking funny, which it turns out was a cavity behind a filling that had come loose. Immediately I thought, “oh, how much is this going to cost.” Being an entrepreneur I pay all my own dental bills.   You can see my dilemma, put it off, don’t deal with the cost of fixing the tooth now and keep my, what turned out to be $300, or pay for it now, get into the dentist even though there is this new order to stay home and they aren’t seeing anyone for hardly any reason.  There were a lot of good reasons to stay home, there were a few good reasons to go to the dentist.  Having worked in a dental office, I have seen first-hand what happens when someone neglects dental work. Anything from needing heavy duty cleaning with a machine that basically jackhammers your teeth with sonic waves all the way up to pulling everything out because not a single tooth has enough integrity to stay in the mouth without the possibility of getting infected.  Had I left it for a couple of months until things opened up again there very well could have been the need to put a crown on it or worse, do a post replacement of the entire tooth.  Which would have cost a lot more money.  A lot of what we do in life is a trade off.   We work out knowing that a little pain now will help us be stronger in the long run.  We get shots knowing that the vaccines, steroids and even pain killers that hurt some going in, will help us avoid worse, even excruciating pain in the long run.  When it comes to pornography use and the struggle that you have been dealing with for years, ask yourself, am I willing to take a shot now in order to avoid an even more painful future.  What’s the value of that to you?   What’s the cost of continued therapy sessions for both you and your spouse before finally resolving this issue?  What’s the cost of all the time you’ve spend doing something that is tearing at the fabric of your self-confidence?  What’s the cost of sleeping in your car because your spouse has asked you to leave?  What’s the cost of the hurt you are putting into your relationship and the trust you are breaking because of pornography use? What’s the cost of a divorce?  What’s the cost of living separate lives?   Just like dental work, working on our self is something that if you don’t get in as early as you can, the cavities in your capacities can fester, grow and get infected.   The emotional pain that you feel when you are frustrated, stressed, lonely or even just bored are all types of immediate pain that if we choose to ignore it, we are creating a long-term pain that will eventually become unignorable.   When I was deep in my pornography use, there was this huge gap between how I felt and how I wanted to feel.  I struggled so much to feel wanted and loved and worthy that I would have done anything to get those emotions in my life.  But, like so many of us, I didn’t know how.  I thought that when I was lonely that no one wanted me.  What I...

Letting go of Control
May 17 2020 23 mins  
Why we use pornography even when we don’t want to. When we try to control our feelings the results begin to overwhelm us.  The paradox of control On a personal level, it refers to the phenomenon by which the harder a person tries to control something, the more difficult it becomes to exercise that control. Examples that are often given of this phenomenon are: (1) the harder you try to fall a sleep, the more difficulty you have actually falling asleep; (2) the harder you try to stop thinking about something, the more you think about it; (3) the more you try to control negative emotions such as fear, the more powerful those emotions become. There is another paradox involved in this phenomenon: we get a sense of well-being when we feel we are in control, yet we do not actually have the power to control very much. The question then arises, why one or why the other. If we cannot have control over very much, why do we get a sense of well-being when we have the illusion of control? Conversely, if we have a sense of well-being when we have the illusion of control, why is it so difficult to actually exercise control? The two things seem to work against each other, and therein lies the paradox. On the interpersonal level, when we try to control the behavior of those around us (or the things that happen to us), we find that our attempts rarely succeed. Only when we stop trying to exercise control that we are able to get the results we desire.  The paradox here lies in the fact that in order to exercise control, we have to stop trying to exercise control.  I like to illustrate this with sand.  If you have ever picked up a handful of sand and tried to hold it you know that the tighter you squeeze the more the sand just falls through your fingers.  Eventually you will hold a tiny amount in your hand but the rest will just fall away because you can’t get a good grip on it.   On the other hand, if you scoop up a handful of sand and just hold it there, letting it rest on your hand, you will find that you can have a lot more sand in your hand with very little control.   In connection with the paradox of control, it is sometimes said that we cannot control what happens around us, but we can control how we respond to what is happening. If we shift the focus from external control to internal control we will get better results.  That is, if we come to terms with the fact that we do not have control over the external world, we can have better control over a given situation by controlling the way we react to what is happening to us in that situation. This is especially true of the wives of pornography users.  If we are looking for inner peace and to feel in control, exercising control over the way we choose to think about the situation, which gives us control over our emotions and our actions is the most effective way to get to the peace, love and self confidence we are all looking for. 

Focusing on What Is
May 10 2020 18 mins  
What is, not what should be All good stories start at 330 am right. September 15 2001, just a few days after the September 11th terrorist attack, my missionary companion, the other two elders in our apartment and I were sound asleep in our seventh floor flat two blocks from the piazza garibaldi train station in naples Italy.  On the minds of each of us was this great tragedy that had just changed the face of the world and as we slept we subconsciously thought of all the loss and fear and hatred and pain that were at that moment permeating the lives of americans 8 time zones away.  A rainstorm had been pounding the city for hours.  Deep in sleep four missionaries heard a desperate thunder banging through our apartment and in our slumbering ears our 60 year old landlady crying “fate presto!” “Come quickly!” As our feet hit the floor, something was clearly wrong. Where there should have been only tile, there was water.  At the door, our landlady begged us to shut off the water, which she was certain was coming from our apartment. It was, after all full of boys barely old enough to vote, so obviously they must have broken something.  Stepping out and standing on the landing of our top floor apartment I could see a cascade of water, careening toward the earth and crashing at the bottom of our large stairwell. The door to a second apartment opened to reveal our neighbors across the hall bleary eyed and confused. Offering no answers, we all looked at the third door on this level. An empty apartment that had been unoccupied for as long as anyone could recall.  I tried the door. Nothing. But I could clearly feel the flow of water gushing between the door and the floor. The landlady had no key as it was a private apartment. From the landing there was no way in.  The balcony of that empty apartment and the adjacent missionary apartment was separated by a stone wall with only one way around it. Over the edge of the wet balcony with only a slippery rail seven floors up to hold on to.    In a moment ‘I put on my raincoat, went onto our balcony and climbed to the flooding one where I found the only drainage hole blocked by a wayward mop and a random piece of plastic.’ Crisis averted, time to clean up. Sometimes I have conversations with spouses of pornography users who come to me at the moment of crisis. They have just found out about the pornography use of their spouse. Many are distraught, unbending and unable to look at this as anything other than betrayal. They believe that their marriage is over, their spouse is broken beyond repair and that they are a failure.  They are focusing on what should be and not what is.  Let’s talk about the differences between how we act when we focus on what is vs what should be. “What is” creates possibility. “What should” be delays possibility. A high school graduate might say, “my gpa will get me into these colleges, I’m ready to make a choice” Or  when the think about what should be, they might say, ‘my gpa isn’t good enough to get into the school I want. I wish I had studied harder.’ A business person might say, ‘our sales were 93% of target, let’s evaluate our process to see if there are any adjustments we can make for the next quarter’ Or ‘if only I had made one more sale. I missed my bonus, this is the worst, I should have worked harder’ A pornography user might say, ‘I see how I have behaved, I understand the choices I made that brought me here. I am going to learn as much as I can from this.’ Or, ‘it just happened, I don’t have control over myself and I’m an addict.’

Fear is holding you back
May 03 2020 23 mins  
Making decisions from a place of fear.  What is fear and why do we often make decisions from a place of fear rather than from a place of abundance? Fear of missing out Not having enough Failure Not being conservative enough How is fear different than caution and how can we tell the difference? What is it about making a decision from a place of fear vs abundance that makes our lives better or worse? What is good about fear? What can be bad about fear? If you knew this was going to work, what would you give up to get there? Matthew 13:44 – the man who sold everything and bought a field. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” He didn’t think, what if someone discovers it before I get back?  what if I can’t raise enough funds? The reasons we use for a lot of our behavior are often contrived out of nothing. Book – the art of possibility talks about “experiments with people who have suffered a lesion between the two halves of the brain have shown that when the right side is prompted, say, to close a door, the left side, unaware of the experimenters instruction, will produce a reason as to why he has just performed the action, such as, “oh I felt a draft.” …It’s all invented, so we might as well invent a story or a framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us” I don’t know how the experiment conducted, possibly through visual input to one side of the brain or a physical stimulus that only would show up in one side of the brain and then the other side creating a reason for it.

Why would my husband lie to me?
Apr 26 2020 29 mins  
Why Would my Husband Lie to me? And other questions Wives ask when their spouse uses pornography. Over the last couple of weeks my wife and I have had a number of conversations with a new client and his wife. They had enrolled in my 13 week course and after one session she hadn’t felt like she had seen any changes. This was hard for her because she was dealing with so much pain, so much frustration and so much heartache that his recovery from pornography use was eating away at her.  She described him as unemotional, uncaring and disconnected. Their story is so similar to so many stories that I decided to share with you some of what each of them are asking for themselves and for each other. Let me just give you some background. I have known this couple for almost 20 years. About 2 weeks ago she reached out to me on Facebook and asked me to call her about her husband and my business. They decided to enroll in my course because they felt it would give him the best chance to change and become pornography free.  As we spoke on the phone she told me of the difficulties that he was having. He had been laid off due to Covid-19, he was using pornography and he was hiding extra cell phones around the house.  To her the biggest issue had been that he lied.  He had lied to her and he had lied to their children. She loves him and wants him to get better. For his part, he is an amazing man who has done so many amazing things in his life. He has always been there for his kids and his wife. He works hard. He doesn’t want pornography to be what he does to feel better but he also doesn’t want to feel so bad all the time. And right now he feels like he has a lot to feel bad about. Their story is not unlike my story or the story of so many people who struggle with addictive behaviors. So, let me share with you some of the questions that she was asking, some of the questions he was asking and some of the essential information I shared with them and would recommend for anyone dealing with something like this.  “Why would he lie to me?” Darcy -      In the thick of it the lying hurt more than the pornography use.  -      I also didn’t understand why zach would lie to me. -      When truthful I would react poorly -      Angry, cry, call names -      Throw things, threaten to leave. -      His brain wants to do tree things -      Pleasure -      Pain -      Conserve energy. -      Honesty causes pain -      For me -      And for him -      His lying is him trying to protect his feelings and mine. -      Lying from kids perspective. -      Not get in trouble -      He’s lying to avoid pain -      It conserves energy because avoiding external consequences -      Lie because we don’t want to hurt others feelings -      Hey guess what so and so said about you. -       What would you tell a wife who is being lied to on how to handle this situation? -      Remove the emotions -      Look at the facts -      When your child is doing this it isn’t to hurt you -      Same true with your spouse -      They are just trying to deal with their own emotions -      Don’t accept/believe that you

4 Secrets to having more joy in your life.
Apr 19 2020 17 mins  
-      The sun is setting and the kids are out making the gleeful noises that signal an amazing day is ending. -      It’s about bed time and I am sitting down to record -      Thinking, what is the skill the thing that my audience needs help mastering this week?  -      What can I bring to them. -      That they might have joy – 2 ne 25 -      Opposition in all things 2 ne 11 -      Taking new meaning -      Ask clients, what percentage of life should you feel good? -      90%, 75% 60/40 -      Major reason we fall into buffering or addictive behaviors – avoiding negative feelings -      Avoiding feelings leads to doubling down on negativity. -      Lonely leads to drinking, pornography whatever, -      The lonely doesn’t really get addressed and in the end it doesn’t go away -      Then after the temporary pleasure fades, the loneliness comes back and -      On top of that we add guilt -      So now we’ve doubled the pain -      Problem is we can make it even worse. -      We can double again and choose to think, not, “ive done something I don’t want to do again and I will take responsibility for it and stop” -      We some times choose to think, “I’m bad, broken or irredeemable” which is shame, -      So now we’ve tripled our pain. -       -      On the flip side, when we have great things in our lives happen, we look for problems. -      Or we diminish the value of our accomplishments or our contributions in the world -       -       -      4 ways to create joy in your life. -       1.    Seek the good in your life a.    Consciously observe the wins in your day                                                        i.    Dinner table question b.    avoid seeing problems where there aren’t any c.    Believe what you want to believe about yourself d.     2.    Become willing to feel your feelings all the way a.    Practice b.    Self confidence                                                        i.    Feel any feeling 3.    Remember you are learning a.    Ability to trust self 4.    The atonement has bridged the gap, you just need to get on the bridge 5.     -      Guess you could say that in a way man’s purpose is to feel the depths of sorrow and the loftiness of joy, each to their fullest -      As I

Accountability is Awesome
Apr 13 2020 20 mins  
-      The more accountability we take for our experience here – what happens to us, what we create, what we see as external or internal struggles – the more choices we have o  This is about ownership o  Ownership creates power and choice -      This isn’t about what you’re not o  Come from negative place o  Not strong enough o  Not smart enough o  Not disciplined enough o  That is all blame and fault finding o  Blame and fault finding are shame based o   -      Here’s the real difficulty, sometimes we judge ourselves for the things that we are taking accountability for o  Then we look to see how we can deflect that judgement o  When we beat our self up that often leads to deflecting which doesn’t feel good o  This goes wrong in the way that people/humans don’t like to be blamed or at fault so then we look to explain away the results in our life o  She didn’t meet my needs o  This just showed up on my screen o  There was a link in my feed o  That food wasn’t supposed to be in the pantry -      You try to deflect judgment -      In the process of deflecting judgement, you relinquish accountability. -      Here is one of the secrets that I want you to take away from this, You can be accountable without judging.  -      There are two words that you can eliminate from your vocabulary to help you do this. -      Should and Shouldn’t. -      You’re a human, you’re going to make mistakes -      Saying I should have done this or I shouldn’t have done that -      I should be more -      I shouldn’t be so bad -      I shouldn’t have slipped up -      Taking should and shouldn’t out of your vocabulary all together will help in this process of taking accountability without judgement. -      You aren’t perfect, I’m not perfect, no one is. -      Take accountability without taking blame. -      Let’s talk about areas where we can take accountability -      There are three areas -      Some call it the cognitive triangle – -      Brooke Castillo calls it the Model -      – most of us just know it as the things we have control over in our lives - -      Thoughts, feelings and actions -      Elder Uchtdorf had a great Instagram post where he was writing on a sheet of paper just a quick reminder, it seems -      I have control over my: Thoughts, Feelings, Actions. -      So, 3 questions: Why not always take accountability for these three things? -      How do I take back accountability for these three things? -      And why will that help me have greater self mastery? -      Let’s quick define Actions: o  Every one of my clients comes to me with one of two problems o  I’m doing but I can’t stop o  I want to start doing but I can’t § I’m using pornography and I can’t stop § I want to stop overeating § I want to get more things done § I want to stop sleeping in so I can get my exercise in -      This is all stuff we do or don’t...

Emotions are a lot like bears
Mar 29 2020 22 mins  
The urges are taking over my life – or that is kind of what a lot of us are feeling right now. For a lot of us this last 2 weeks have been really challenging. A lot of us are feeling trapped, stuck, and cooped up This is driving a lot of behavior that we have not used to buffer in a long time. For some of us it is eating – A lot of people are going to pornography – the data indicating that people are visiting illicit  sites indicates a huge spike since the beginning of the covid outbreak. A lot of that is driving overwhelm, frustration and shame Our brains are really interesting machines. They do a couple of things really well and then they miss a couple of other really important things if we don’t manage them. So, the first thing our brains do really well, is they see danger in bad feelings.  But something that is not a strength of our brain is distinguishing between bad feelings.  Being chased by a bear feels bad.  Being bored also feels bad. Which one is going to kill you? Your brain doesn’t know. So it throws something out there to keep you from feeling bad.  In the case of being chased by a bear, people have been known to lay down and play dead as well as run screaming or even to stand up and face the bear, dealing with it head on. In the case of being bored, you have essentially the same three options, you can lay down and play dead, for me this looks  a lot like depression. You can take off running, which is looking for adrenalin. So, food, pornography, social media Or you can stand up and face the boredom, feel it and deal with it head on. The big difference here is, when you face boredom, you know that eventually it will go away. That is not always the case with a bear.  Now, if you were faced with a bear and you did any of those three things no one would judge you So, don’t pile shame on to your choice of how you choose to behave. Figure out how you want to behave ahead of time. Build in time for boredom Create. You have projects that you have been putting off.  Engage your family

I feel love in spite of the corona virus
Mar 23 2020 12 mins  
Love – As papi to 8 children I have been regularly faced with a significant load in trying to connect with my kids. There is a lot that happens in life, there is a lot of living that 10 people do in one house, so there is constantly something to wash, clean, pick up, put back, get out, fix, make, build, take apart, and leave alone.  The other day my oldest was really upset that he was having to participate in the chores around the house because he felt that it was unfair, he hadn’t created any of the mess and now he was being asked to clean up. This is the part where I probably would have gotten mad at him, escalated the… we’ll call it a discussion, and told him off for how ungrateful he was being, how he was acting entitled and life just isn’t fair so stop whining about it and get it done. For me, my children’s behavior has often been a point of both pride and a source of deep frustration. It has meant that I was either a good parent or a bad one. It has meant that I was doing it right or that I was failing miserably.  We used to go out with our 4 or six kids ( we don’t go out with all 8 at the same time these days partly because they are all at such different stages of life and the older ones often have activities). People would stop us so often and tell us what well behaved children we had. Sitting at dinner in a restaurant or grocery shopping was usually a high point because, in public our kids were kids, but the best behaved kind.  They did what we asked, they sat nicely and had conversations with us and we all enjoyed being out together.  These days we are all getting a lot more time with our children because of school closures and work from home or work shutdowns.  For us, even though I work from home and we homeschool our kids, our lives have shifted dramatically from one of going to sports activities, church youth activities, seminary at 5:40 AM, our oldest going to work, our littles playing with the neighborhood kids and all the normal stuff that you do when you are a large family of highly social people.  We now stay home more, our kids interact with outside people a lot less, practically not at all, in fact and we see a lot more of the inside of our home and each other.  All of this leads up to the moment two nights ago when my oldest was what I would call excessively upset over being asked to clean up a mess that he didn’t make.  As I stood there, tired from a day of work, with a tube of caulk in my hands because I was putting it on the baseboards that I had just replaced on the entire main floor, I looked at my son with anger and frustration welling up in me.  I wanted him to just help, to just get it done, to just stop complaining about the work that was obviously going to need to be done by someone. I didn’t understand why he was acting like this and why did I have to deal with his bad attitude. I could feel myself getting warm and I was seeing red.  At that moment I realized something that I had been trying to do for a few months now. I was trying to see my children and everyone around me the way I wanted to be seen. And trying to eliminate what felt like near constant bickering among my kids when they are home.  I realized that this was that moment where I could change the whole situation. I realized that love was the one thing that I needed to bring to the equation. So, I just stopped running around applying caulk, even though it felt like there was a time crunch because that stuff dries, and I looked at my baby boy who is now the size of a grown man and I said, “It’s ok, I’ll do it when I finish this. You don’t have to.”  Then I put my hand on his shoulder with love in my eyes and went back to what I was doing.  I had peace, in that moment. I knew that I might have to go back and clean up, but it was ok. I realized that no...

Victim Mentality
Mar 16 2020 19 mins  
Victim-hood and the blame game. -      Not too many people think or express that they are the victim. -      Not weakness, just our brain justifying our behavior -      Indicators of victim mentality. -      Blame o  If my spouse would just meet my needs better o  If I just hadn’t looked at porn that first time o  If my church leaders would just help me more o  The house clean on ramsey – o  If only the circumstance was different o  Ask yourself, do I blame anyone else for things that I don’t like about myself or my behavior? -      Defensiveness o  Byron Katie talks about defensiveness as the first act of war o  That person doesn’t know my situation o  My life is different. o  No one else can understand what I’m going through o  No matter what I do it’s never good enough o  Zach driving o  This is a place of defending your actions even though you might want to change but think you don’t know how o  Ask yourself, is there someone in my life that is causing my pain? o   -      Complaining o  I just can’t catch a break o  Also, just plain negativity, o  this is never going to work, nothing I do works o  You feel sorry for yourself and feel trapped. o  You know this person in your life, they are constantly looking to engage in a conversation that is negative.. o  Building a business has really challenged me in this area o  I just have to ignore those thoughts and move forward with my best plans. o  Ask yourself, do I complain    , do I excuse my behavior, are my thoughts and words negative? o   -      Key indication is that the stories that you tell involve “someone did something to me” “it happened to me” -      “I was reading the news and the site showed an article that made me want to click further and that took me down the rabbit hole” – it just happened to me -      Be careful about your words – look for a victim and villain

Action Bias
Mar 01 2020 12 mins  
Action bias We act in order to gain some sense of control or even to eliminate a problem -      1 - Doing something is better than doing nothing o  We see this in business where we begin looking for solutions before we have even fully developed what the problem is. o  This is what we do when we are dealing with addictive behaviors. o  Giving in to our urges is an action that we engage in for a variety of reasons – sometimes because we think it will make the urge go away or because we want to do it regardless of the consequences. o  This also comes into play when we engage in distracting ourselves. o  Keep ourselves busy – go run rather than deal with the urge, get busy with work rather than deal with the urge other distracting behaviors. o  Or the classic, “im craving this, so I have to eat it.” o   -      12 - Others expect me to do something. o  Soccer goalies jumping left or right when statistically they should stay in the middle of the goal o  White knuckling is a form of action where we exert extraordinary effort to keep our urges and impulses at bay. o  Others expect us to just do it, or in this case not do it.  o  The action we are taking is fighting the urge o  Holding it at bay. o   -      There is an alternative. -      David Attenborough – iguana chased by killer snakes video.  -      Narrates very little, at end says in a chill voice – a near miraculous escape. -      That’s it, -      Allowing the urge – -      Just sit and watch it -      Do nothing, -      Observe – feelings, thoughts, urges -      

Feel good - own your pain
Feb 17 2020 16 mins  
Podcast - pain, process it so it doesn’t turn into buffering ·     We’ve talked about life being 50/50 ·     Episode 12                   ·     unhappiness is half of life ·     I’m going to talk about pain – really, all negative emotions, lonliness, sadness, tired, upset, whatever you think of as negative emotions ·     Pornography users, over eaters, over spenders, video gamers ·     We do those things to buffer the feelings ·     Lower brain doesn’t understand that momentary dopamine leads to increased pain ·     Here’s what happens o  Something happens to trigger the pain § – wife goes out for girls night, so you’re lonely § – you’re on a business trip, so you feel like you have nothing to do (translated – bored) § –  something happens at work, so you feel like a failure § Your kids behavior is bad, so you feel like a bad mom §  o  You don’t know why you are feeling this - not because you don’t know what happened, but our minds are pretty good denial machines. o  And we usually have habits that buffer away the moment so we find ourselves removed from the situation before we reflect on what went on. o  Pain runs through your body o  You resist the emotion by using– § Pornography § Food § Excessive spending § Social media scrolling ·     Using these to avoid feelings creates additional negative emotions o  Pornography – guilt, shame, self-loathing, disconnection from partner o  Food – guilt, shame, self-loathing, overweight, o  Overspending – guilt, shame, financial worry, out of control o  Social media scrolling – disconnected, envy, unconfident, depressed ·     All of these tactics create a long-term increase of pain, they don’t help you avoid it.  ·     We don’t usually think of the long-term consequences of our actions, especially when we feel pain.  ·      ·     Just like pulling our hand away from a hot stove, we react to pain in a way that provides immediate relief - ·     I took my youngest two to get vaccinated and they screamed and fussed and cried because they knew that getting a shot was going to hurt.  ·     What they didn’t think about and what they don’t have the capacity to understand yet that adults do is that momentary pain will greatly decrease the likelihood that they will get polio or measles or some other disease with long lasting effects. ·      ·     Now that is physical ·     But our brains don’t easily distinguish between physical pain and emotional pain. ·     When we feel emotional pain our lower brain wants to avoid it just as much as it does physical pain. ·      ·     We don’t usually choose to feel pain. ·     choose to avoid pain in the moment and magnify it long run. ·     Overeaters see this in their physical weight. ·     Pornography users see this in their self-confidence and in their relationships with their spouses. ·     When we scroll social media to excess we see this in greater depression rates and lower life satisfaction. ·     You can avoid the pain in the moment with a quick hit of dopamine, but that doesn’t remove the underlying...

Better at life by understanding infinite games
Feb 11 2020 20 mins  
Becoming the person you want to be is an infinite game. -      Finite and infinite games are an interesting subject -      I was listening to simon sinek and he talked about the difference between the two. -      Finite games have set numbers of players, specific rules and an end point. -      Infinite games have rules that may change, the number of players may change and the purpose of an infinite game is to keep the game going. -      One night while traveling home from a single adult activity when my pornography use was weighing on me heavily, I looked out at the dark road and the distance ahead and felt a deep longing to be better. -      As the highway hummed along under me and the solitude of the car pulled my thoughts deeper into my actions I prayed as earnestly as I knew how that if I could just not have this one problem, I would be a pretty amazing person. -      What I didn’t see from that point in my life that I see so clearly now, is that becoming the person I want to be is not an arrival at some particular set of attributes -      It involves so much more than that. -      To become great at life we have to stop thinking about what we are doing in terms of arriving at an end -      We have to think of long term, continued, and sustainable growth and learning. -      So how does an infinite game work and how can you become a great player becoming the best version of your self that you can be.  -      Five things have to happen to play in the infinite game according to simon. -      1. You have to have a just cause. -      2. You have to have trust in teams -      3. You have to have a worthy adversary -      4. You have to have existential flexibility -      5. You have to have the courage to lead   1 – just cause – you have to have a cause that is so just, right, or important that you would willingly sacrifice for it. -      As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints there is a lot of moral guidance about the cause we work for. -      Eternal life is a just cause that we look to willingly sacrifice for. -      An eternal family is another. -      The just cause for most of us is our desire to be in concert with our Heavenly Father.  -      We believe that is the most important thing we can do, because we believe that it will bring joy into our lives. -      There are lots of great just causes. The work you do could be considered a just cause. -      The United states was founded on a just cause – it is about an ideal, so amazing, so important that we may never achieve the ideal in this life, but we will give our all to it while we can. -      This is what give’s us purpose. The striving toward an ideal. Sacrificing for a greater state of goodness. -       Simon talks about it this way, he says, “imagine a world that is different than the one we have now, that you believe if everything that you did in your organization went perfectly, that you would contribute to the building of that world.” -      Moroni or Ether not sure if Moroni is just quoting Ether here or inserting his commentary on what Ether wrote but this is...

Why feelings matter - with Darcy Spafford
Jan 27 2020 23 mins  
Feelings The big question that comes up as I coach clients, whether they are trying to stop an addictive behavior or they are just trying to show up as the man or woman that they want to be, really captures the battle that we have every day over who we are and the behaviors we exhibit. Why do I want … ? Why do I want to earn a million dollars? Why do I want to become a doctor? Why do I want to get married? Why do I want to have the big house? Why do I want to stop looking at pornography? Why do I want to look at pornography? Why do I want to stop overeating? Why do I want to eat that whole chocolate bar? Why do I want to be more successful at work? These questions are about feelings. They are about how we think getting something or stopping something will make us feel.  Whenever you can ask that question, you are really asking “how do I want to feel?” Because everything that we want is based on how we think it will make us feel.    I think this is a really interesting conversation to have And those feelings drive every action in our life. If you have ever spent time in sales, like I did, you know that your goal is to help the person buying have a feeling of one sort or another. When people feel the right feelings, they act.  Feelings drive you to do everything you do. Sex, food, warmth, shelter, survival, are all driven by our feelings. In fact, the latest research shows that when we block certain feelings, our desire to do anything essentially is eliminated.  What that means to me is that if we can create the feelings we want, we can create the life we have always wanted.  Ok, so, let’s talk about what a feeling is. For the most part, a feeling is a vibration in our bodies. Most of us think that our feelings are caused by our circumstances. We think that because we live in a certain place or we have a certain job or our spouse says a certain thing, that is what causes our emotions.  The truth is our emotions come from the thoughts that we have about those circumstances. For a long time, as I dealt with my pornography use, I used to think, I can’t stop looking at pornography. The circumstance of pornography hasn’t changed, it is still out there and it isn’t going away. But, rather than think, I can’t, I now think, I can look at pornography, but I choose not to.  That creates a feeling that I prefer, a feeling of success and a feeling of being capable. Which in turn, created actions that resulted in my being able to choose not to look at pornography.  The same goes for every aspect of our lives.  We can feel happy, or successful, or capable, or loved, or whatever feeling we are looking to feel when we want to.  does that sound a little off? Just think about it for a second. Everything we do, we do because of how we want to feel.  Sometimes that means that we do things that make us feel good short term, but have negative feelings long term and sometimes we do things that make us feel bad short term, but have positive feelings long term. Pornography users use because they want to feel good. Over eaters over eat because they want to feel good. Successful people perform their best work because they want to feel successful. Kind people are kind because they want to feel love. Weight lifters work out because they want to feel powerful. And so on. So, if you take a moment and think about what you really want, then go deeper and ask, what makes me want that, what do I really, really want. Then ask yourself, how you will feel when you get what you want, you’ll find that when you dig deep enough, you really desire a feeling.  Good news is that your feelings all come from your thoughts, and you get to choose your thoughts! If you want to change

Relationships: 3 Truths
Jan 06 2020 11 mins  
Relationships As I work with men and women, and their spouses, I find that one of the biggest issues that comes up is how pornography use affects their relationships. one thing that I often see and one thing that happened in my own relationship was that my wife thought that for her to be happy she needed to control me and my pornography use.  If you haven’t read that story go back to my blog and check out the one titled, “My wife used sex as a way to try and control me and I wanted her to” I’ll link to it in the show notes. ( Lots of wives and husbands do this to varying degrees, especially when their spouse isn’t behaving in a way that they want. This is the rules part of all our relationships.  We have all these expectations of how our relationships should be. As I have learned and grown from a pornography user and now as a coach, something that each of us has to learn is that our relationships are just one thing.  They are our thoughts about another person. If you have ever had a boss you can’t stand but someone else loves them, you know what I am talking about, even if you have never thought about it this way. Another good example of this is our ward bishops. They can be figures that are beloved by almost everyone, but there are some that we just don’t get along with. And we also have ideas about who they should be and how they should behave.  As an example of how we think people aught to behave, When I was a young man I attended a youth conference where there happened to be a tv on in the lobby showing some Saturday night live reruns. In my house we had never been allowed to watch SNL because my parents had opinions about it. But there, in that lobby I saw a member of our stake presidency Julian Breillatt watching and laughing at SNL. Now, being the know it all teenager I was, I said something about how I was surprised he was watching it. and he responded that he loved SNL and thought it was very funny. Incidently, a number of years later, this same good man was the temple sealer who married my wife and i. My thoughts about what a member of the stake presidency should and shouldn’t watch were a manual of sorts for this man. But at that moment, I learned that I didn’t have to believe everything I thought about how others should behave.  I could just let people behave without having to judge them as fulfilling some arbitrary set of rules that I thought. Our relationships with others depend solely on our thoughts about that person.  What I thought about president briellatt watching snl could have been that he was a bad person and that I would never value anything he ever said again as a spiritual leader. Or, as was the case, I didn’t take his behavior to mean anything other than he was a man, doing the best he could. And when it came time for him to officiate in our wedding, I was happy to have a man who had been part of my life for many years there to officiate. When it comes to spouses, this same lesson can and, I’ll say, probably should, be applied for the sake of everyone’s happiness. Specifically, when it comes to pornography use, oftentimes, I find that spouses feel it is their duty to hold their loved one to a certain standard. And when that standard hasn’t been met, they are to punish, cajole, withhold affection from and judge the other party. So, in my relationship with darcy, I know that my relationship with her depends on my thoughts about her. My thoughts about her depend on my expectations of her and how well she meets those expectations. I also can’t have “love” for her, but that I have loving thoughts about her.  Because, as we know, our emotions and feelings are generated by our thoughts. So, when I think about her lovingly, I feel love.  I

How to solve any problem: 5 key elements
Dec 30 2019 18 mins  
How to solve any problem: 5 key elements. I love all the great feedback I am getting about the podcast, thank you. Some of you make it the first thing you listen to each Monday morning to start your week out right. Somebody reached out to me about this week about the podcast from two weeks ago about falling forward and asked how they can get better at that.  And said, they were feeling stuck and didn’t know how to put that into play in their life. So, let me just take a moment here to remind you that you can hop online at and set up a free mini session. I will help you out, let me hook you up. There is a link for the work with me button so you can just take advantage of that. I’ll also talk to you about options that you have if you want to keep working with me if you choose. My spots are filling fast, so I am thinking about opening up a group coaching program as well so more people can get better at the self mastery that we all are striving to work on.  It is gonna be amazing Whether you are interested in working with me or not, I’d love to do a mini session with you and help you out, so don’t hesitate to go there. So, today, we are going to talk about how to solve any problem by understanding 5 key elements.  All of the coaching I do stems from the model, which was developed by my mentor brooke Castillo, the owner of the life coach school She is a woman who I really respect for her work in helping people others work on how to become a better person and better at being the person that you want to be. I also work with a really amazing coach jody moore. Who is my friend and a coach who brought me the model before I knew really anything about being a coach and is now my instructor at the life coach school. I have yet to find a problem that this model will not work on.  So, if you think you have one that this model doesn’t apply to, then, sign up for a mini session and let’s give a test run and see. The idea of the model is that everything we deal with in life, pain, suffering, negative emotions, all come from something other than our circumstances.  The traditional way of thinking is that circumstances make us feel bad.  The model shows us that our feelings come not from our circumstances, but from what we think. That our thoughts generate our feelings.  So let’s start at the beginning of the model. The “circumstance” of our model. Let’s just define that.  a circumstance is a fact, it is what we consider the indisputable facts of the case. They are things that we don’t control and cannot change directly. Some examples of this are, the weather, other peoples, behavior, our past.  What do I mean that it is a fact, so this is something that is not up to interpretation and everyone can agree on.  For example, if you said to me, ‘I’m addicted to pornography’ that would not be a circumstance. That is a thought.  If you say to me, “at 2 pm I looked at pictures” that is a circumstance. It can be, essentially, proven. It isn’t subjective or someone’s opinion. Everyone would agree with it. Your car is a circumstance. weather is a circumstance. Other people’s behavior is a circumstance. You can’t control them.  The second part of the model is your thinking, your thoughts. I want to define what I mean by your thoughts, because I use this in my coaching a lot. This is a pivotal point in your ability to understand not only who you are, but also how you can change what you believe and think to become who you want to be. Firstly, thoughts are sentences that are constantly running through our minds. This is essentially the conversation we are having with ourselves.  Sometimes we are aware of our thoughts, but often, because of how powerful...

4 ways to keep your cool and be happy at Christmas
Dec 23 2019 24 mins  
4 ways to keep your cool and be happy at Christmas. Christmas is a time of excitement and expectations Trees, lights, presents, food. Also a time of difficulty for lots of people who struggle with depression, addiction, loneliness 1 – don’t expect others to be different than they normally are. -      Today is our oldest’s birthday -      He didn’t get out of bed when I called him for his 5 am swim practice -      He threw a tantrum when I tried to get him to complete his chores. -      he was demanding of my phone. -      He was the same him that he always is. -       2 – don’t expect yourself to be different than you normally are. -      I woke up this morning with a pile of things to get done -      I did not start doing them until well after 1 pm -      By Christmas morning I will get as much done as I can – I might fail -      I am not yet the person that I want to be -       3 – be prepared to be disappointed. -      You might not get the gift you want -      Your kids might not take the picture that you want with the smiles and looking at the camera -      Your parents or in-laws will probably still be who they are, so they will probably be exactly the same people they are on other days of the year -      Be prepared for someone to say something rude -      Recognize that you won’t be able to change anyone this holiday season – despite what you may want 4 – remember that your thoughts are what create your feelings. -      Thoughts are the cause of all our emotions. -      For me this has always showed up in terms of what people say.  -      I have observed that for me, when someone says something, it can easily be interpreted differently by me than it is by someone else. -      You can take the thoughts that come and use them the way you have -      Or you can create deliberate thoughts that serve you better -      You have to program those thoughts into your brain and into your life with repetition to build a new neural pathway that is stronger than your old thought -       -      Here are some thoughts that you may want to try on this holiday so you can feel the way you want to about the time you get to spend with your family o  Everything is as it should be o  It was meant to happen the way it did o  You/he/she is exactly as you/he/she should be o  Love is always an option o  I’m responsible for everything I think and feel o  No one can cause an emotion inside me o  People are allowed to behave the way they want o  I am enough o  Nothing has gone wrong here. 

Life is 50/50 - how do you make that work for you?
Dec 09 2019 13 mins  
-      Opposition in all things -      How often do you think you will feel good? – what percentage of time? -      What percentage of time do you think that you feel bad? -      What does it mean to resist feelings? -       When you resist feelings, you are not only denying yourself negative feelings that may serve you, if you feel them to their fullest for a short period, but you are likely also not able to feel positive feelings that may well serve you too. -      50/50 rule is that half the time, no matter what, your life is, no matter who you are, you are going to feel negative emotions. -      We often feel like there is something external that is going to make us feel like we have “arrived” -      Truth is, that the guy who makes a million dollars a year has just as many down days as a guy that makes $35k -      The woman who weights 125 has just as many down days as the woman who weights 250 -      We want to think that we will not have negative emotions because negative emotions are bad in our mind and that means that there is something wrong with us. -      It is a lie that people who have x don’t have negative emotions. -      Negative emotions are part of the package of opposition in all things.  -      What negative emotions are you trying to avoiding when you are buffering with pornography or other things? -      What negative emotions are you creating when you buffer with pornography or other things? -      What positive feelings are you reserving for when you overcome your pornography use?

3 things to build the person you want to be
Dec 02 2019 13 mins  
I can’t keep going like this. Darcy caught me.  I had been looking at inappropriate pictures on my company laptop when she thought every thing with my pornography problem was behind us. We were suffering through a really difficult miscarriage and I was turning back to the old things that made me feel better whenever I was feeling less than good. She was furious.  She threw that laptop down the stairs, along with some laundry detergent and my dignity. I was caught. Being caught is a terrible place to be. There is not a thing that you can say that really makes it better. There is not a thing that you can do to make the other person trust you again in that moment. It is the point where you feel your absolute worst while someone stares at you feeling your absolute worst.  It is the dream where you find yourself standing in front of the entire class in your underwear, except you are in real life feeling just as exposed and the other person hates you for it. This was the moment that I broke my wife. The woman who had, up to this point seen me as an amazing husband.  When she tells this story, she talks about me being the guy that our friends would tease because I was always up, changing diapers, putting kids to bed and helping with the babies.  I think I am that guy, in part because of my pornography problem.  I think I am that guy because, at least in some way, I am trying to make up for being rotten and broken on the inside, so I make myself look awesome and helpful on the outside. At least to my wife.  At least until I got caught. What is terrible, is that getting caught in this moment was not the moment that I can tell you that I changed and started getting better.  This was not that moment.  This was a moment that made me get worse.  This was the moment that made me turn inward and become more sneaky. Made me stop allowing my wife to see the real me.  I stopped sharing Zach Spafford, vulnerable, loving husband. I started being a character in my own marriage.  I became a guy that never failed at anything.  I would mess up at work. I wouldn’t tell my wife. I would mess up with pornography. I wouldn’t tell my wife. I would be stressed. I wouldn’t tell my wife. I would be depressed. I wouldn’t tell my wife. That moment was the moment I turned inward. I became a perfect guy outside as best I could so that she wouldn’t have to deal with my weakness because she couldn’t handle it. I’m not proud of it. But it happened.  This is true for so many people that I work with. What if my spouse is never going to be ready to forgive me and be my partner again in every way? The truth is, you need to be honest with your spouse. Not because your spouse deserves your honesty, although there is an argument to be made there. Telling the truth is about being the person you want to be.  Building the person you want to be is about being conscientious about behavior that brings us down, and tears down our sense of the greatness we have within.  So, I want to talk about building you.  This is the topic of today.  I told that story because I didn’t get that I wasn’t becoming someone. I was building someone. Tony robbins has a documentary on Netflix called “I’m not your Guru”. There is a lot of swearing. Near the end he says something that struck me deeply, he said, “I constructed Tony Robbins,” “I created this motherfucker standing here.” When we create, construct or become the person we want to be, it isn’t an accident. It has to be done deliberately. 1.    Determine the virtues you want to have Benjamin Franklin, Early on in his life he deterimed 13...

Boundaries - how to set them
Nov 25 2019 26 mins  
This podcast is for pornography users and their spouses.  Today we are going to talk about boundaries, and specifically, what they are, what they aren’t and how to set boundaries that you can be happy with so you can move forward into having the relationships you want to have with the people around you. This is really for you couples who are dealing with pornography and are looking to create boundaries that will help you grow and improve your relationship, rather than separate and divide your relationship. In discussing this I recognize that it is not always the man who uses pornography and not always the woman who needs to set the boundaries but I am going to probably stick to those lines for the sake of simplicity in this discussion. But know that I understand that, even though I will talk about husbands or men as the pornography user and wives or women as the boundary setter.  Also, you can use this to set boundaries in any part of your life, not just with someone using pornography. If you need to set a boundary with your mother-in-law that she calls before she comes over, these principles apply. Just discussing it specifically in relation to pornography because I want to give you tools to help you in that struggle. I’m also going to note here that boundaries are a key component of any healthy relationship. So if you think, “I can’t set a boundary around this issue because that is going to cause my marriage to break up” or some other very difficult or unpleasant consequence is going to happen, you may be right.  You have to be willing to set boundaries knowing that there may be unpleasant consequences and this may create a rupture that could be difficult to repair.  When you set boundaries, you’re are choosing between feeling unhappy because you don’t have a boundary, which could be a long-term situation where someone walks all over you and setting a boundary that you have to maintain, which may cause some short-term unpleasantness through difficult interactions with the person who may not want to respect that boundary in the beginning. What is a boundary? Effectively, a boundary is a line in the sand that you choose to say, this line isn’t to be crossed. We have boundaries everywhere in our lives and society. Your home has a boundary that you expect people not to cross.   For my father-in-law, his house boundary is not just the outside edge of his yard, but if you park on the street in front of his house, he will go out and ask you to move your car. That is his boundary.  Inherent in a boundary is the idea that, if you cross this line, I will do x. In the case of a pornography user, in my case, my wife had a boundary that if I used pornography, she would not choose to be intimate with me until she was ready. That often meant that I had to wait until she initiated intimate contact, even holding hands or a kiss. Some of you listening to this might be saying or thinking, That’s not fair, my wife can’t withhold her wifely duties from me. Or maybe you’re the wife and you think, I can’t not take care of my husband’s needs, then he will act out more.  Maybe. That is for you to decide, because when you set boundaries you are setting them for yourself.  When you set a boundary, you are taking care of and protecting yourself. So, if you are the wife thinking, “I have to take care of my husband’s needs and give him sex whenever he asks for it, even if he just used pornography” that may be ok with you. But, if you feel like you are being used, or manipulated, or are resentful as you do this, then I think it is time to set a boundary. Because you are not protecting yourself and as a result you are doing something that creates bad feelings rather than build up the relationship. So, you need to be really clear about what your boundary is.  Most of us have a boundary that we will not allow anyone to hit us. That is...

Choices - Solutions to get unstuck
Nov 13 2019 24 mins  
Choices – the way forward. Finding your way is a matter of choices and making the ones that you believe will bring you the most happiness. So, I often work with young men who are just about to graduate high school and, for members of the church of jesus Christ of latter day saints, that means that they are getting ready to choose whether they will serve what we call a full time mission. That means that they will spend 2 years away from family, away from girlfriends, away from college studies and sports and they will go out to a place they are assigned and share the gospel of jesus Christ with complete strangers, sometimes in a language that they will learn that they have no experience with. When I was young boys went at 19 and girls at 21, now those ages are younger, boys can now go at 18 and girls A lot of these boys are struggling with anxiety, with pornography, with knowing if they will be the missionary they need or want to be. Just a note about my show notes. they are essentially the outline and notes that I use to do my podcast. I don't edit them once I finish the podcast, so they are here for you as is and to give you a little glimpse into my mind as I do the show. They aren't a word for word transcript. Enjoy! I had a conversation with someone just today about the choices that he is making and why he is holding back from moving forward with his life because of the overwhelming feelings that he has. He said to me, Its hard to find motivation to go to school when you don’t know why you are going. Which lead him to feel overwhelmed and then led to various types of buffering and avoiding. What I’m not saying is, just go because you should or because someone else says you should or because you think you are supposed to or some other external reason.  As I was talking with this young man the question I asked him was, why are you choosing to stay home?  That took him back a pace, because it wasn’t that he was actively choosing it, it was that he was not choosing anything.  Now, this wasn’t about him serving a mission but in a way it is the same conversation.  Inaction is a choice, but often we don’t think of it that way. we think of it in terms of not yet choosing.  But in reality we are choosing, we are choosing the status quo.  What is happening with this young man is that he feels stuck, overwhelmed and generally unhappy.  Some of you are thinking, yeah, because he isn’t choosing the right thing. He isn’t doing what is right and so he is not happy. But think about what you are saying there. You are essentially saying that we don’t choose the thing that we are told we should do, go on a mission, go to college, then our happiness will be in jeopardy. By that logic most of the world is simply unhappy and can’t have joy.  The real reason for this sense of overwhelm is his thoughts, what he is making his choice of inaction mean and his lack of ownership. We already talked about his thought and his feeling. In the conversation he also told me that if he doesn’t go to school that will mean that he can’t get a good job and provide for his future family.   That was what he was making it mean that he doesn’t have motivation. But the flex point, the place where the rubber meets the road is the lack of ownership.  The truth is, regardless of whether he goes on a mission or goes to college or whatever, unless he decides the path he wants to take, he will stay unsatisfied and continue to choose thoughts that overwhelm and hold him stuck.  He didn’t go on a mission, not because he chose to do something else or chose to stay home, he didn’t go because he outlasted everyone else in the game of ‘when are you going to put your papers in’. he didn’t declare his choice, he simply chose inaction and the world passed him by. Now he is in the same place with his schooling.  Somewhere in him he...

Five things you can do:
Nov 04 2019 30 mins  
I was having a conversation with a fellow coach friend of mine She had walked in on her 16-year-old son using pornography We got to talking about how she reacted and how finally she said to him ”I can’t keep you safe” The truth is that we can’t keep our loved ones from doing any of the buffering that they choose to engage in. In fact, I had a dear friend who for the last decade and a half have a weekly habit of Viewing pornography. He is an extraordinarily smart person who has all of the filters that you can imagine set up to keep him safe. And for a period of time his wife was the only one with access to the passwords required to get past those safeguards I have never seen so much security or safeguards set up to keep someone from viewing pornography. It was elaborate, comprehensive and cumbersome.  Except my friend was, as he would say, “constantly checking to see if I was safe by testing the limits of all the blockers on all the devices in the house.” As someone who is somewhat technically savvy I felt blocked at every turn just to use certain websites that would normally be allowed, like google.  This master planned internet access security would likely keep almost anyone safe.  Not my friend. And for that matter, not anyone who really wanted to choose pornography. The reality is that, regardless of what buffer we choose, food, porn, drugs, alcohol, social media, no one can keep us safe is we choose to seek it out. This was true for me as well.  My wife was the gate keeper of my phone’s access to pornography for a long time.  I asked her to block the internet on my phone so I couldn’t get on at all. She was the only one with the password.  It wasn’t able to keep pornography out of my life. It was only a temporary barrier to immediate access. Until I found a way. Until my friend found a way. Until my friend’s son found a way.  Each of the stories has the same thread of reality running through it.  In each version there are ample blocks to immediate access.  There are hurdles to be overcome and access is monitored by a central figure, a trusted wife or mother. In each version, there are individuals who, morally, believe that looking at pornography is contrary to their overall happiness. In each version, the pornography users are trying to lead a life as clean as possible. And in each version, they are able to surpass the barriers to entry in an effort to satisfy their urge to view pornography. Why is that? Before we get into the why, I want to say something about these roadblocks that we construct to keep our families safe. They are good, they are necessary and they need to be built and maintained. But, as you will understand as we discuss the rest of the podcast, they will never be enough to keep your family 100% free of pornography. So why? Why is it that we will go to such great lengths to access our drug of choice? Whether it is pornography or food or social media or video games? Lower brain = eons of evolution = survival So that is the challenge. That is what you are up against.  So what can you do? As a wife, husband, father, mother, individual, child, grandparent faced with a world where you can no longer just shut out the influences of the outside world and there are an ever increasing number of ways to bring them in and have them at the dinner table. First, you need to define what it means to be safe. Ask yourself what you are shooting to achieve . Create a plan and execute on it. Involve experts  Be flexible and prepared to adjust Decide that any failures of the system are opportunities to learn Learn from those opportunities Second, understand what the people you want to help want Ask your kids what they are aiming for in their world.  Be willing to lose a battle. Be capable of responding rather than reacting Keep consequences natural and...

Buffering - What is it and why are you doing it?
Oct 21 2019 21 mins  
My wife was out of town, it had been a hard day at work, my business wasn't doing well, we were on the verge of financial ruin, I was lying awake in bed and I was going down that familiar path to pornography use. Before I talk about how it all ended, let's talk about what pornography use is for most people. There are addicts, those people who, without regard for the consequences and unable to function without it, use substances, including pornography to get through the day. This is probably not you. This is probably not your husband. This is probably not your wife. The usage of pornography in your household is probably what I call "Buffering". A buffer is something that reduces friction between two items. It lessens the impact. It cushions the blow. A buffer is something that helps us transition from one thing to another with as little discomfort as possible. Most people don't know they are doing it, buffering. A lot of us do it when we move from one normal situation to another. We pick up our phone to see what is on social media rather than standing quietly on the subway. You probably have an uncle who does it while standing in the grocery line by talking to absolutely anyone about anything, regardless of whether he knows the person or not. When you grab a quick snack as you come home from work, rather than waiting for meal time. Buffering is a normal part of everyday life for most people. Why do we buffer? We buffer because it seemingly makes things easier For one reason or another, we are using the buffer to provide us with a quick chemical hit in our brains. Serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine all things that make your brain "feel good", at least in the short term. Looking at your phone gives you a "hit" that makes your brain feel a little better. The problem with seeking short term hits is that you sometimes end up postponing discomfort now for discomfort later. When you grab a quick snack every time you go from a meeting to your desk and then again when you go from your desk to a meeting will add up over time and probably make you obese. When you buffer with pornography, in the short term, there are not a lot of overwhelmingly negative effects. But over a long period of time, those effects are well ( In your thoughts about pornography, none of that really matters. What matters is whether you decide that pornography use is ok for you and your family. I suspect that you are reading this because, although you have a moral objection to pornography and your stated values say that pornography use is not ok within your household, there is still someone using it. Buffering with pornography, like buffering with food, shopping, video games or any other form of self comfort is something that you can stop doing. You just need the right set of tools. One of those tools is understanding what buffering is, how it is changing your brain, and how you can see it coming before you start down the path of using. Looking at pornography is one of the most popular buffers in the world. It is readily available by the light of an ever present army of personal electronic devices. When people buffer, they are using the buffer as a way to lessen the impact of discomfort. Unfortunately, what often occurs is that the buffer becomes the default go to in order to temporarily avoid what is happening in the moment. A moment of discomfort becomes a binge on something else. About half of our lives are uncomfortable. Sometimes we feel discomfort because we are simply moving from one part of life to the next.... #theselfmasterypodcast

The 12 steps are probably not working for you
Oct 13 2019 27 mins  
The 12 steps are probably not working for you.I started attending 12 step meetings in 2007. I also went to meetings sanctioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member. Those Church sanctioned meetings were full of guys that were pretty similar to me. No one had committed a crime (I don't think) in pursuit of their sexual desires, but none of them seemed able to overcome their pornography use either. So every week for a number of years I would sit in the meetings, I would say, “My name is Zach, I’m a porn addict, it has been x number of days since my last relapse.” If you have ever been to these meetings, the people are earnest, the topic is serious, and the goal is the same for everyone. 12 step programs are the most recognized and ubiquitous type of sobriety focused recovery systems in the country. Judges assign people to attend them. Families swear by them. I found a list ( of 32 programs in addition to Alcohol Anonymous. Five of these had the word sex in them. So why, according to Lance Dodes, MD and the Sober Truth, do these meetings only have a 5% success rate? Now, granted, the Sober Truth is targeted specifically to Alcoholics Anonymous, but the “12 Step Program” has been taken and morphed to work with narcotics, pornography and food addictions. I don’t have data for those programs, but I think it is safe to say that the data is likely to be similar for similarly structured programs. For me, I worked the 12 steps as best I could, in concert with my bishop and stake president, and had regular meetings with a counselor. All of the world was pulling for me and I was pulling in the direction I was told I should go. Once I had been going to meetings for a few years, I thought, I should be able to go longer than I am. I should have more sobriety. I shouldn’t be relapsing like this. I felt completely alone. The truth was, that even though I, like hundreds of thousands, even millions of people before me, had gone through the steps, worked each of them to the best of my ability, apologized, asked for forgiveness, shared the program, done it all, I was still doing what addicts call white knuckling it. I was still living in a place where I was not succeeding to my definition of success. Maybe I wasn’t using as much as I once had, but each time the urge came, I was still bearing through it with all the pain that comes from having a kidney stone. I was always just on the verge of going back. Back to pornography, back to lying to my wife, back to hiding from my church leaders, back to buffering my life away with my drug of choice so I didn’t have to deal with my feelings. Some of you might be saying in your minds, “oh, then you did it wrong” or “then you really weren’t sober” or some other version of blaming me for not getting it right because I wasn’t doing it right so I have no right to complain. That’s not an atypical response from those dealing with addiction and advocates of the 12 step program. In fact, Dr Dodes talks about this in the Sober Truth. He quotes AA’s Big Book saying, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program…” Dr. Dodes concluded, as anyone might, that “the program doesn’t fail; you fail.” Emphasis his. So how could anyone who has gone through a 12 step program ever step forward and say, “um, sorry guys, this just isn’t helping me”? The...

Failure is a good thing and here's why
Oct 09 2019 25 mins  
So many addicts are hindered by their view of failure that it actually creates greater difficulty in overcoming their pornography use. As a coach I teach my clients that thoughts are one of the biggest factors in how we feel and act, leading to the results we create. When they view pornography, fall off plan, eat more than they thought they should, they view that as a failure and can often fall into a self-defeating spiral of feeling bad and buffering. What people often miss is that if we can take a step back and observe our behavior without judgement and without shame, we find an opportunity to learn. Mistakes are our greatest learning opportunities. Becoming a scientist of your behavior makes you an expert that can see patterns, pathways, and potential that you don’t see when you just feel bad. I often ask, What does victory look like? Having a winning record in sports means that you lose just under half of the time. The greatest sluggers in baseball only hit the ball in a third of their at bats. If you took into account the number of actual swings during each at bat that percentage would go down. Yet, when I hear that someone feels like a complete failure for looking at pornography for 15 minutes over the course of an entire week, I wonder, is that a losing record? There are just over ten thousand minutes in a week. That means that 99.85% of the time the person who feels like they failed was not looking at pornography. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to justify a little sin by saying, “be good 99% of the time and that’s ok”. What I am saying is, taking stock of where you actually are gives you a better chance of moving the dial to where you want it to be. In this instance, as in so many that I see, a small, though measurable improvement, would make a huge difference in bringing a person out of their despair and into a place of confidence in their own capacity to choose what they want. That 0.15% failure rate far outstrips the acceptable failure rate of electronics, which is between ten and fifteen percent. But, what can be learned from it is invaluable. You see, what you think makes a big difference. If you think, “I am a failure” then you very likely will be right. If you think, “I can improve myself 0.15% and be 100% clear of pornography” then you are just as likely to be right. Look at your failures with the right perspective and you will have a wealth of understanding to improve your record. If you would like help, or know someone who does, have them sign up for a free mini session at It will go a long way to changing the way they look at their struggle in overcoming pornography use.

Agency and Addictive behaviors
Oct 03 2019 13 mins  
Agency is a really important part of everyday life. Many of us think of it as our freedom of choice and in a lot of ways that’s right. For individuals who believe they are addicted to some behavior or another the phrase, “I can’t stop” is a typical refrain. I find it interesting and powerful that the phrase “I can’t stop” is the one we use. True addiction seems to include some compulsion, but we don’t say, “my body makes me do x” or some other phrase that indicates the external forces driving us to the end result. In terms of the Gospel we often discuss how agency is an important part of our time here on Earth. To have agency we must have three key items: 1 – Knowledge of what is right and what is wrong 2 – Consequences for our actions 3 – The ability to choose our actions The knowledge of what is right and wrong is something that most of us have a grasp on. We usually know that certain behaviors are not good and that others are. Consequences for our actions can come in many forms. They may be natural consequences that come without any intervention, like our conscience holding us accountable to ourselves. They may also come from external sources, such as the anger a spouse may show because we have violated their trust. Both of these first two items usually occur without much difficulty. The third item on the list, the ability to choose, is the place where all the friction happens. Yes, obviously, making good decisions and making bad decisions is built into our freedom of choice. But where we are going wrong, especially when it comes to addictive behavior, is when we say, “I can’t”. I have a lot of kids and my least favorite phrase out of their mouths is “I can’t”. They say it when it comes to cleaning, they say it when it comes to calling people on the phone, they even say it when it comes to interacting with other people outside of their comfort zone. At that moment, they are abdicating their agency by abdicating their ability to choose. They are creating, within their minds a mental block over which they believe they have no power. They are creating a mental construct where they are not granted the capacity to choose to do or not do something but that they are at the mercy of external forces. Think about it, when your kid says “I can’t clean my room” and you threaten them with not being able to go out and play until it is done, even if they then clean the room they have not “chosen” it. It has been forced on them, in their mind at least. The same thing is happening with pornography use and other addictive behaviors. We say, “I can’t” because our lower brain is running a script that our higher brain, seems unable to interrupt without a great deal of will power. That is partly because what we have done is set a habit that our lower brain controls, by giving into urges that feed one of our primal brain’s three main goals. Those goals are to conserve energy, seek pleasure and avoid pain. Then, in a type of automatic assembly line, our lower brain gets set on a path that is well worn, starting with an urge. When we say, “I can’t stop”, our brain wants to be right. When we keep on the path of our addictive behavior, we begin to prove how right we are to our own brain. There is a lot of complicated science that bears this out in the field of epigenetics, but for the purpose of this article none of that really matters. What matters is taking back our agency. Agency is a tricky thing. When we choose habits and behaviors that have negative consequences there comes a whittling away of our agency. Like the kid who cannot choose to play because he chose to not clean his room. But when we choose habits and behaviors that have positive impact our consequences are just as direct but leave us with more choices. None of this is probably new to you. set up a free mini-session at

5 • 1 Ratings

kelephone Aug 09 2020
This is a well crafted podcast and I think anyone struggling with addiction could benefit from the message and useful action plans.