Cover image of The Self Mastery Podcast

The Self Mastery Podcast

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.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

Popular episodes

All episodes

The best episodes ranked using user listens.

Podcast cover

Victim Mentality

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.-      Blameo  If my spouse would just meet my needs bettero  If I just hadn’t looked at porn that first timeo  If my church leaders would just help me moreo  The house clean on ramsey –o  If only the circumstance was differento  Ask yourself, do I blame anyone else for things that I don’t like about myself or my behavior?-      Defensivenesso  Byron Katie talks about defensiveness as the first act of waro  That person doesn’t know my situationo  My life is different.o  No one else can understand what I’m going througho  No matter what I do it’s never good enougho  Zach drivingo  This is a place of defending your actions even though you might want to change but think you don’t know howo  Ask yourself, is there someone in my life that is causing my pain?o  -      Complainingo  I just can’t catch a breako  Also, just plain negativity,o  this is never going to work, nothing I do workso  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 areao  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


16 Mar 2020

Rank #1

Podcast cover

The Story of Zach and Darcy - Interview with Natalie Clay

This week on the podcast, my friend Natalie Clay interviews Darcy and I. It is a great chat and a great chance to hear from Darcy, who I talk about often but we don't hear from enough on the podcast. Thanks to Natalie for interviewing us and sharing us with her audience. You can check her out at natalieclay.com or listen to her podcast Couples Coaching with Natalie Clay. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/couples-coaching-with-natalie-clay/id1459950159


20 Jan 2020

Rank #2

Similar Podcasts

Podcast cover

Relationships: 3 Truths

RelationshipsAs 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.https://www.zachspafford.com/post/my-wife-tried-to-control-me-and-i-wanted-her-toLots 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 also know that I can’t be mad at her. I only have thoughts that create the feeling of being mad.I make me mad.Just like when I used pornography, she, her thoughts, were what made her mad. I never hurt her feelings, she simply had thoughts that hurt.Let me give you an example. The other day she came to me and said, I’d like to get these desks for the new office, because if we have these desks then the kids’ school stuff will go in them and be out of the bins they are in now and they won’t be all over the house.Now, I disagreed, because my thought is, if their stuff is in bins or in desk drawers, it doesn’t matter, they are probably still going to lose their school books, because they don’t put them away regardless of where they go.She got upset and, in her own words to one of her friends, said that she was having a temper tantrum.Once you truly understand that it is not what others do that hurts us or makes us feel loved by them or love for them, your relationships will never be the same. They will be much more amazing.As adults, we get to do whatever we want. Trying to control others is impossible.My grandpa found this out the hard way when my grandma Spafford wanted new carpet and he told her, no. Now, her reaction may have had a little to do with the fact that the next week he came home with a brand new car without so much as a consultative glance in grandma’s direction. Either way, you may have guessed, there was brand new carpet in that house by the end of the following week. Adults don’t like to be controlled.Also, you’re an adult.So, what does that mean?You get to do whatever you want. You also don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.Some of you out there might be saying, my husband can’t do whatever he wants.My wife has to consult with me before she does this or that.Not true.As you saw in the example of my grandparents, adult people get to behave however they choose to.That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to be dealt with. And it doesn’t mean that we all will behave selfishly, no more than does the legalization of marijuana mean everyone will smoke it.It does make you a human with agency.It also means that you are not responsible for how someone feels if you don’t do something.My wife wanted me to go to ikea and get the desks. I chose not to and not to worry about how she was reacting. And, if she really wanted them, she could have chosen to go get them and put them up. Now, sometimes we want to do things because someone else wants us to. That is different from feeling like you must do something because your spouse will be upset or you’ll get in trouble. Adults can lie, cheat, steal, look at   You can whine, complain, be passive aggressive, give them ultimatums or the cold shoulder, or even yell and scream and threaten them with divorce.Or you can let go of the idea that you can or even let go of the idea that you want to control your spouse and you can realize what a waste of time and energy it is. I can guarantee you you’ll be happier with letting go.Then you’ll be happier with you. And speaking of you, your relationship with you, is 100% your thoughts. So, let’s talk about three key truths you need to understand about you and your relationship with you.1.    You are 100% lovable.2.    If you don’t love yourself, it’s a reflection of your choice not to love yourself, not your lovability. You are the object of your love, but how you feel about your lovability will depend on your willingness and capacity to love yourself unconditionally3.    How you treat yourself reflects your thoughts about yourself.A researcher named Larry Bradley asks all his clients to go out and ask people this really interesting question. “what does it mean to be lovable?” https://www.dixiefamilyskillscenter.com/When darcy and I did this, we found that everyone had a different answer that spoke to their individual needs, wants, and lives. In the end, however, your lovability is a static, immovable reality. You cannot increase your lovability and you cannot decrease it. Mostly we just have thoughts about what we choose to do that may impact how we feel about our lovability. But think about it. Having an amazing relationship with yourself is just choosing to think you are amazing. Think you are amazing and you are. Easy, right?So why is it so hard for so many of us?Because we have expectations about what we do and who we are and we judge ourselves for not meeting those expectations by looking backward for anything we might have done wrong.Ever tell someone they did something great and the first words out of their mouth were, “Yeah, but…” followed by a withering self critique that no one else saw or cared about.This is a habit that can be hard to break but it well worth the effort. You are amazing. We are all amazing. Also, you had nothing to do with how amazing you are. As creations of our father in heaven we came to this world amazing.Just take a step back and recognize your amazingness and say thank you.Even and especially if you are stuck in a habit you don’t like or want to remove from your life. You are 1000% more likely to move past it when you know you are amazing. Try having that relationship with yourself for a couple of months and see how it feels.I guarantee you’ll enjoy it more than beating yourself up.Thanks, I’ll talk to you next week.


6 Jan 2020

Rank #3

Podcast cover

Five things you can do:

I was having a conversation with a fellow coach friend of mineShe had walked in on her 16-year-old son using pornographyWe 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 safeguardsI 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 = survivalSo 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 adjustDecide that any failures of the system are opportunities to learnLearn from those opportunitiesSecond, understand what the people you want to help wantAsk your kids what they are aiming for in their world. Be willing to lose a battle.Be capable of responding rather than reactingKeep consequences natural and maintainable.Third, have consistent and persistent conversationsDiscuss expectationsAsk pointed questionsBe able to hear the truth without losing your coolDiscuss your learning opportunities with those in your circle.Seek mentors that have been where you are and heed their advice as much as you can and is meaningful for your situationFourth, be open about your own struggles.Each of us has burdens to bear – share yours with your familyFifth, Trust in agency.Believe that you are doing your best and so are all those around you.Believe that whoever is using is not doing it to hurt you or themselves.Also, believe that the user has agency and they are the only person who can exercise that agency#theselfmasterypodcastWork with me: https://calendly.com/habitcoachz/freeminisession


4 Nov 2019

Rank #4

Most Popular Podcasts

Podcast cover

Buffering - What is it and why are you doing it?

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 easierFor 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 documented.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


21 Oct 2019

Rank #5

Podcast cover

Urges - How do you stop feeling trapped by them

Sign up for a free mini-session at zachspafford.com/workwithme to begin working with a coach who understands where you and how to move past it.


18 Nov 2019

Rank #6

Podcast cover

How to solve any problem: 5 key elements

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 zachspafford.com 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 amazingWhether 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 and fast our brains are, we are not really aware of all the thoughts that we have going on in our minds. For example, if you said to me, ‘I’m addicted to pornography’ that would not be a circumstance. That is a thought. Thoughts are really interesting because they are the things that, I believe, create the world around us. All of the technology and all of the comfort and all of the things that we spend our time with that aren’t other people (and sometimes other people like our kids) first started out as thoughts in someone’s mind. This makes our thoughts very powerful, perhaps the most powerful thing we have the ability to influence in the world. I think you could make an argument that the saying, the pen is mightier than the sword, is an expression of how powerful our thoughts can be, especially when we write them down. Some of us have thoughts that build us up and help us create, like, “I want to study to be a doctor” or “I know I’m a great dad”.Other thoughts we have can reduce our ability to be our best version of who we are trying to be, like, “no one will know if I do this just one time” or “I can’t stop looking at pornography”Those thoughts that reduce our abilities are harmful and cause us unnecessary pain and suffering. I have 8 kids, that is a circumstance. Where we live, in Milwaukee Wisconsin, when I tell people that, they usually say something like, “wow, that is a lot of kids” or “you’ve got your hands full”Where we just moved from, st George, ut a family of 8 kids is not so rare and they will often say something like, “oh, I’m the 7th of 9” or my parents had 10 kids or “nice, we wanted to have 8 but had to stop”So you can see, the actual words they are saying are circumstances to me, but they are those peoples thoughts and they are sharing what they think. And what they are making my 8 kids mean is different depending on their thoughts and what they believe. That brings us to the third part of the model, feelings. All of our feelings come from our thinking. We don’t tend to think about it that way, we usually attribute our feelings to our circumstances. “I lost my job, that’s why I feel like a failure”. But the truth is that you’re lack of a job is not the cause of your feelings. What you are thinking about your lack of work is the cause of your feelings. There are a lot of people who don’t work that feel great about it. Retirees are often put into that category. Thinking that you should have a job, or thinking that you didn’t work hard enough, or thinking that you didn’t deserve this. Those are the things that bring up the feelings of failure or overwhelm or sadness. So let me give you an example of how your thoughts about circumstances create your feelings. We just moved into a new house and I am doing some of the work because I like to work with my hands and it gives me some time to think while I work. My brother-in-law, who is a professional drywaller came over and was critiquing my work. Now, before I knew this model I might have believed that he was making me feel bad because of what he was saying about my drywall that I had just put up and was mudding. But now, I know that what he said was just words, and that my thoughts about those words are what create my feelings. And he wasn’t overly critical, he was just pointing out what I could do better, but before, I might have been sensitive because in the past, I have tried really hard to fit in with my wife’s brothers and it isn’t always easy, so to hear him be critical of my work would have been cause for me to think, “oh, I’m not good enough” or “he’s such a jerk”The truth here is that his words are just words. And whether he said them to me or to someone else without me hearing them, the only thing that created my feelings was what I chose to think about the words, the meaning I gave them. It’s important to remember here, that we are not usually fully conscious of what we are thinking. In this example, and before the model, I would certainly have thought that he hurt my feelings and that was his fault. Just like, when our spouse uses pornography and or withholds intimacy, we often think that it is their fault that we feel the way we do. That is a pretty natural and quick process to go through. But, what we think, not the circumstance, is what creates negative emotions and positive emotions. We also like to think that if the circumstances were different, then we would feel better. “if my husband wouldn’t use pornography, I’d feel sexier” or “if my wife would meet my needs more often, I’d feel happier”. It’s easy to be tempted to think that way because changing the circumstance is so obvious. But, we can’t always change the circumstance. We can always change our thoughts. That, by the way, is the literal definition of repentance. The Greek root of our English word repentance is to have a new mind. What is your mind if it isn’t your thoughts. So, while having new circumstances may be hard to achieve, having new thoughts isn’t. Which means that feeling differently, if it comes from your thoughts, is just a matter of choosing thoughts that create the feelings that you want. So what is a feeling, I define it as a vibration in your body. As men, maybe we’re not as good at describing our feelings, or thinking about them. Some of you listening might think that this is where I lose you, because you aren’t a big feelings person. But stick with me for a minute. Knowing what feelings are and how they impact us is key to understanding why we do what we do. The reason I say that is, feelings are the reason we do anything we do. I was in sales for a lot of years. I sold cell phones and then I worked with insurance agents and then I was one. If you have ever sold something you know that the way to get to someone to buy something is to create the right feeling. Turn that discussion about the latest features of the iphone and its many technical aspects into desire. Maybe the buyer wants to feel cool, maybe they want to feel more interesting, maybe they don’t want to feel envy that their neighbor or friend has a better phone, or maybe they don’t want to feel stupid that their phone is old. People buy, and really, do everything they do because of how they feel. That isn’t touchy feely, koombayah kind of talk, that is just how humans work.So, when we think, “it won’t matter this one time if I look at pornography” our feeling may be justified. Or when we think “my wife can’t find out that I look at pornography” we may feel overwhelmed or scared.Those feelings drive us. But, and this is one thing that I teach my clients, you can also just feel the emotion without acting on it as well. And this is something that we have all done as well. If you have felt angry or upset and just sat in the emotion and done nothing. Just decided to feel upset rather than yell at your kids because they made a huge mess or tell your boss off because he was overly critical of your work. So knowing what your feeling is, knowing and understanding how to describe and pinpoint your feeling will clue you in to the next piece of the puzzle – actions.  The forth part of the model is action. Actions are simple. Actions are what we do, plain and simple. So, when I feel lonely, my action might be to look at pornography. Some of you might say, well, when I feel lonely or sad, I just get up and distract myself by keeping busy. So my emotion doesn’t affect what I do. I just power throughI want to offer to you that when you are operating from negative emotions you are not doing your best work. When you operate from the empowered emotions your actions are more effective than when you are “powering through” your sadness or loneliness or whatever emotions you are trying to distract yourself from. What you do will always show up in the energy and tone you bring to your work because of the feelings you are feeling. Which come from the thoughts that you are thinking. When I make the decision to indulge my sadness by choosing to look at pornography the long term effects of that can be seen in how I ultimately feel because of my use, how I treat my spouse and kids and how I interact with the wider world. Do I withdraw, do I say mean things, do I show up as a someone other than who I want to be. Yes, all of those things, and more. Recognizing how my feelings impact my actions makes a huge difference in my being able to see clearly how to change and overcome my current patterns and implement new patterns that serve me better. If what I really want is to be pornography free, understanding my emotions and the actions that they drive makes me more effective in changing my thoughts to have the feelings that I want to have.  If what I really want to feel is love when I feel lonely, I can instead choose to think, “I am great at taking care of my family.” That creates a different emotion than, “my wife can’t find out that I look at pornography”Which creates different actions, which brings us to number 5 – results. Results always come from our actions. One thing that you are going to be aware of as you start to see how the model works is that when you see your thought, then discover the feelings that come from that, which create the actions and the result, you’re going to want to fix it all right away. I just want to caution you there. There are a couple of things you need to know, First your thought line is the place where you have the most controlA lot of us focus on the action line more because we feel like that is where all the problems are. Or we try to change the circumstances because they seem to be big and in the way. Now, as pornography users we have all done this.I’m guilty of it, trying to just not look even thought our thoughts are still “my wife can’t find out that I look at pornography’. But, if the thought doesn’t change, then, in the long run, neither will the results.  That’s that whole, “as a man thinketh, so is he” quote. So when It comes to pornography use, one of my first thoughts that started me on the path of being pornography free was, “I can look at pornography, but I don’t want to right now”. That was my way of saying, yes, I have the ability to chose pornography, but right now, in this moment I don’t want to. That was a thought that I could believe at almost every moment, regardless of my circumstances. That thought makes me feel content. So I don’t have to fight with myself over whether I am going to use pornography. In choosing that thought, all the downstream feelings and actions result in net positives to my life. So, when we want to make a change, focus on the thought line. And then be careful that you don’t just try to change your thought without trying to understand why you chose the previous thought that wasn’t serving you or wasn’t helping you stop using pornography. When you take the time to look into that and watch your brain, you will be more likely to make lasting changes to your thoughts and drive permanent change rather than flipping back to old thoughts when it gets tough. So, just be careful as you go through that process that you aren’t just jumping to a new thought that you like better but that maybe you don’t believe or that you haven’t looked at your current thought closely enough to understand why you are choosing that thought. Because you are choosing your thoughts by the way. Also, when you are trying to figure out what your model is, you can start anywhere in the model and work in both directions. So, if you know your action line, or your result line, you can start there and work up to define the other parts of the model. Just know that your thoughts always determine your feelings, your feelings always determine your actions and your actions always determine your results. For me it is easiest to see my actions, so sometimes I start there.  For others it is easier to see their feelings so they start there. But no matter where you start in the model, once you have it out on paper and can see what your brain is doing, you are more likely to be able to change it and make the adjustments that you want so you can show up in your life the way you want to.


30 Dec 2019

Rank #7

Podcast cover

Overcoming pornography requires self confidence - 3 Key components of self confidence -

Three key components of self confidence and why you need to cultivate and build them into your life.


13 Jan 2020

Rank #8

Podcast cover

How to stop buffering

The first thing you’re going to do to reduce buffering is to allow urges.-      Allow vs eliminate-      Allow vs indulge-      Urges come no matter what The second thing you’re going to do to reduce buffering is to make all of your decisions involving your usual buffer with your higher brain.-      Plan it-      Schedule it-      Discuss it#theselfmasterypodcast


28 Oct 2019

Rank #9

Podcast cover

Boundaries - how to set them

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 pretty typical. Or we won’t tolerate someone yelling at us. That is a pretty clear, unspoken boundary. We usually don’t have to tell people about those. What we are talking about is boundaries that maybe someone has crossed and as a result it is time for you to be really clear, at least in your own mind, as to what you will tolerate and stand for in your own life. This means that you need to be able to state them to others should you need to. Usually we only need to say something about our boundaries when there has been a clear violation of our boundaries.When it comes to pornography use within a marriage, a good example of this would be something along the lines of what I noted above.  Once I had used pornography, it was up to my wife to initiate our next intimate contact. Setting clear boundaries as the boundary setter lets the other party know, this is what I will do if you choose to cross this boundary.  Now, these boundaries are both physical, in the sense that your body is your own and it is up to you how to share it with your partner, and they are also emotional. If someone comes into your house that you don’t know and takes your stuff, the physical boundary of your home has been violated, but the thing that sticks with people longer is the emotional sense that they are not secure in their space. The same thing happens when a husband views pornography. There is this emotional sense that maybe I’m not good enough for him or that I’m not the wife I need to be or I can’t meet his needs that needs to be processed.  what that means is, as the person who has set the boundary, you get to determine how you feel without the boundary crosser dictating that. What that looks like in a lot of marriages where someone has looked at pornography is, one party saying, I love you, I will not tolerate pornography use in our marriage. If you choose to engage in pornography use, I will not be intimate with you for 1 week (or month or until I choose within that timeline). You need to be clear, realistic and willing to do exactly what you say you will. In the case of my father-in-law not wanting people to park in front of his house, that isn’t realistic and he can’t be clear with random people who come into the neighborhood. But he is willing to go and tell them to move if he sees them. You have to set boundaries, especially in a marriage that meet all three because otherwise the boundary won’t hold up long term. When you set boundaries you are making a really clear request with a really clear consequence. I have one client that when his wife found out that he was using pornography she stopped being intimate with him.  It has been over a year and he sees no end in sight. Now you may say, ok her boundary is that if you ever look at pornography then we will live in a loveless marriage.  That may be exactly the right thing for you. But you also have to be willing to deal with the consequences of that.  I’m not saying that that boundary is wrong, but just an observer viewing this from the outside, that will likely end in divorce. So, you have to be willing to look down the road and see what may happen and be willing to deal with those consequences.  Also, make sure that you aren’t making yourself a victim of your own boundaries. If I look at that situation and the wife is saying we will live in a loveless marriage, the husband may have a boundary that living in a loveless marriage is not acceptable and decide to leave. Now What boundaries aren’tBoundaries are not something that we can use to control others. What I mean by that is, if you are trying to set a boundary in hopes that someone will stop a behavior, you will likely find yourself disappointed and frustrated. My wife is a wonderful woman, whom I love and adore. She also used to try and control me with sex. It wasn’t always overt, and it wasn’t usually something that was designed to make me do something that I didn’t want to do. In fact, it was the opposite. She was trying to get me to not do something. She was trying to keep me from looking at porn and I didn’t really want to look at porn. I wanted to stop.It was always, in her mind, something she would do to “meet my needs”.And I thought she was, by her actions, “meeting my needs.” In her mind, my pornography problem was about controlling how often I needed to give in to my urges. If she could interrupt my urge by engaging with me sexually, then she was helping me. She thought she was helping control my choice to use pornography. She would ask questions like, “How are you doing today?” in an effort to gauge where I was and if she “needed” to intervene by providing me with an outlet for the day. What she was doing, in reality, was frustrating herself and rewarding my pleasure center for disconnected, isolating behavior. Two main things were frustrating her. First, was the fact that she could not, despite her best efforts, control my urges or when or how I acted on them.Whenever we try to control others, we will always find ourselves frustrated. They will rebel, they will deceive, they will find a way around you. People are like water; they will go wherever their personal gravity takes them.It is inevitable.  Second, and I think more importantly, when what each of us really wanted was intimacy in the deepest and most connected sense of the word she was creating resentment and I was creating disappointmentControl is antithetical to intimacy because inherent in intimacy is trust and control requires none. She resented needing to look over my shoulder to make sure I was making good decisions. I was disappointed that the intimacy that I wanted wasn’t available in a resentful spouse  Don’t get me wrong, when you and your spouse decide that pornography use is not ok in your household then both of you should take steps to create an environment where viewing pornography is difficult. I am also not condoning pornography use. I am also saying, whether you are a man or a woman, making a decision to intercede in the urges of your spouse in an effort to control their actions is not going to work out in the long run.Boundaries are not things that we do to control others. Boundaries are markers that we set, consciously or unconsciously, that mark a moment if they are crossed that we will execute on a consequence. Also, when someone crosses a boundary that is not an excuse for you to cross a boundary as well. So let’s talk about some boundary examples. Just to recap – boundaries are about you setting limits on what you are willing to tolerate Boundaries are not about controlling others. Boundaries are not about punishment.


25 Nov 2019

Rank #10

Podcast cover

Fall forward

Set up a free mini session at zachspafford.com/workwithme


16 Dec 2019

Rank #11

Podcast cover

4 ways to keep your cool and be happy at Christmas

4 ways to keep your cool and be happy at Christmas. Christmas is a time of excitement and expectationsTrees, lights, presents, food. Also a time of difficulty for lots of people who struggle with depression, addiction, loneliness1 – 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 beo  It was meant to happen the way it dido  You/he/she is exactly as you/he/she should beo  Love is always an optiono  I’m responsible for everything I think and feelo  No one can cause an emotion inside meo  People are allowed to behave the way they wanto  I am enougho  Nothing has gone wrong here. 


23 Dec 2019

Rank #12

Podcast cover

3 things to build the person you want to be

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 haveBenjamin Franklin, Early on in his life he deterimed 13 virtues that he wanted to have or emulate or be. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”“Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”“Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”“Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”“Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”“Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”“Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”“Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”“Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”“Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloths, or habitation.”“Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”“Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”“Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”2.    Determine a strategy and tactics to gain the virtue 3.    Execute on that strategy and those tactics daily. 10,000 hour ruleBuild deliberate exercises that you can practice to become the person you want to be. Susanne Bargman Susanne Bargmann is a psychologist, a teacher, and a supervisor in Denmark. She wanted to become a famous singer. “I should give it a go and see if it was actually possible to improve my singing, improve my voice. I felt that I wasn’t really improving enough because I didn’t get that big sound that I wanted. And my coach would be cheering for me, and he said, “It’s right about the corner. Just continue.” And then I remember it was summer, and suddenly I was singing, and the sound actually came. And in a song, I was able to make the big sound in a song. And that was a huge jump for me and really, really motivating.So the next step was to stand in front of others and sing. And that was tough as well. But it was still a big step to move out of the practice room into performing in front of others and creating music.That I worked on for quite a while.And I think in that process I realized that the next step would be to start recording.Guess what happened next. She recorded an album, then released it and it got radio play. #theselfmasterypodcasthttp://freakonomics.com/podcast/peak/https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/01/health/13-virtues-wisdom-project/index.html


2 Dec 2019

Rank #13

Podcast cover

Feel good - own your pain

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 emotionso  Pornography – guilt, shame, self-loathing, disconnection from partnero  Food – guilt, shame, self-loathing, overweight, o  Overspending – guilt, shame, financial worry, out of controlo  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 issue ·     And more often than not, it magnifies negativity in your life·     So, what to do about that. ·     Here are 4 things you can do to keep your negative feelings from magnifying your pain. ·     ·     1 – do a thought download when you start to feel pain o  Get it out on paper. o  You may not be able to do this all the time, but try it. o  You’ll begin to see the thoughts generating your pain. o  The more you practice this, the more likely you are to succeed at feeling your feelings rather than doubling down on them through buffering·     2 – own your paino  Understand and believe that your pain comes from your thoughtso  Believe that your pain is yours and not because of someone or something else. o  ·     3 – ask yourself questionso  Is this thought serving me?o  How can this pain help me?o  ·     4 – invite yourself to let go of the thoughto  If the thought that is causing you pain is not serving you, let it go. o  You may want to keep certain thoughts because that pain is useful or meaningful in some way. ·     More than anything, feeling your pain in the moment rather than buffering it away with food, pornography, video games, social media or whatever it is that you use will make your life more full and allow you to enjoy the positive 50 percent of life more fully. ·     


17 Feb 2020

Rank #14

Podcast cover

Choices - Solutions to get unstuck

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 girlsA 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 believes that going to college will benefit him, but he hasn’t made the choice to do it or not do it. He is simply waiting for the people around him to stop telling him what he should do. That’s a terrible strategy for life if you want to be satisfied with what you are doing. And by the way, satisfied with what you are doing and the path your life is taking is part of my definition of joy. when that is how you choose to act you are acting in the only way you know how to control the situation, simultaneously you are expecting life to come to you and put you on the path that you want with no personal buy in.If this is you, let me give you 4 easy, simple things you can do to move forward. Then I will tell you the story of my own struggle of whether or not to go on a mission. First: choose to decide knowing that it will be the right thing. Second: make the decision and stick with it for a set period of time – 1 week, 1 month, 1 yearThird: Tell 5 people that you love the most your decision and ask them to help you follow through and to support your decision for just 1 year. Fourth: be willing to be wrongI walked into the church building not knowing if I wanted to be a missionary for my church. I had grown up as a member of the church of jesus Christ of latter day saints and I was the 4th child in my family. My oldest brother served as a missionary in Portugal. He had a distinguished career as the elder who fixed all the bicycles in the mission. He served faithfully and came home a better person. My brother just older than me served in the boise Idaho mission and is a keen scriptorian. Discussing a gospel topic with him brings out the best in you and in your understanding of God and others around you. My oldest sister who is the number two child in the family went on a mission after both of my brothers to chile in the Santiago south mission where she learned to love Chileans more than she loved any people before. But me, I had not known that I would serve a mission. In fact, I felt like my bad habits, including pornography use and masturbation were things that would mean that I couldn’t go on a mission. I also didn’t know that I wanted to teach the gospel to complete strangers. Partly because I didn’t’ know if I thought it was the truth. I had done seminary, early morning bible study for highschoolers, held in our basement. Seminary teacher was my good friend David stuart. I would roll out of bed at 5.59 and 59 seconds and go down in my pajamas so that I could have the chocolate milk and donuts that he would bring. It wasn’t for the lessons, though he was a good teacher. I was not a good student. It was because I respected him and knew that he loved me like a son. I went to church with my family for my entire life. My dad is a staunch believer in doing the right thing and being right about it. So we never did anything halfway at our house. We were members of the church of jesus Christ of latter day saints and members of the c of j c of lds go to church every Sunday for 3 hours and then we come home and we eat and take naps. Not sure if that last part is really what everyone does but that is what we did. My dad is also a staunch believer in naps. Each week when we had youth night, we called it mutual or young mens night and sometimes we did combined activities with the young women, I would go. Mostly because I wanted to but sometimes because I was told I had to. I didn’t always get along with my youth leaders. One brother in particular who’s name I have forgotten but some of my friends from that era will probably remind me after listening to this podcast, he was particularly difficult for me to get along with. I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me – at least I didn’t think so then. But he was, in reality a decent guy who was just doing his best to deal with a kid who was difficult to manage because I loved mischief. I also had leaders Like my dear friend Shawn Stephenson. One of the greatest men I know. A good man, with a good heart, who could see past all the non-sense of a teen boy and just love him for who I was. But none of that meant that I really wanted to serve as a missionary for my church because I didn’t know how, I wasn’t sure of the message, and I didn’t think I could toe the line as a good missionary. There are all the rules and all the people telling you what to do and really what not to do and I have never liked any of that sort of thing. I like to discover for myself the best way forward. If there is a rule that I don’t agree with, I will either skirt it or I will try to change it. I don’t believe in nonsense like, just do it this way because we say so. I believe in finding the best way, the right way the most efficient way forward. And I didn’t know if being a missionary was that way. I had even gone to the church college for second class students, which at the time was called Ricks College. A great place to get a decent education for rock bottom prices. But even there I was really bad at following the rules. In fact, had the school administrators known all the things that I had been up to in my short stay in alpine chalet, where I was roomates with my cousin, they surely would have kicked me out, because the rules are very strict. I was there, standing in the foyer of the church building where I had gone to church for the last 5 years and I didn’t know.It was the proverbial fork in the road. I saw both directions. I would like to tell you that I had some grand religious experience and that revelation changed my life that day. I will tell you that I went into an empty classroom, shut the door and prayed to know if the church was true and whether I should go on a mission.in that room that looks just like all the other rooms in every other church building in all of the world. I feel like I got the answer I needed that day, And the path forward became clear to me. And it is the principle that I learned then that has made all the difference in my life. Moving forward is a choice. One that we can make prayerfully, but also logically, even when we skirt the rules a little and aren’t the kid we are supposed to be. I saw my future more easily, and while I would continue to make many mistakes over and over and over for many many many years, I could see the direction I wanted to go. Not the direction that I was supposed to go, because that was not how I did things. I came out of that room a changed person. I knew that I would serve a mission. I knew that I would figure it out as I went along. I knew that my path was one that I would choose because it was what I wanted. And I am grateful for not knowing the end as I stood at the beginning. Because that meant that I could make it my own.


13 Nov 2019

Rank #15

Podcast cover

The 12 steps are probably not working for you

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 here 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...


13 Oct 2019

Rank #16

Podcast cover

Battle of the brains

Battle of the brains - why your lower brain hijacks your best intentions and you still bufferSo you have a problem.We all do. We are trying to survive in a world where survival is virtually guaranteedInfant mortality is down across the worldLife expectancy is up. Since 1950 when life expectancy was 45 years old to 2020 we’ve added nearly 30 years to the average life of a person.Yet, with this survival going on we are also getting into things that are quote bad for us, like pornography, excessive eating, video gaming, over spending, and so many other buffers that keep us entertained in the very short term, but that bring a host of negative consequences in the long run.Why? Because of the thing that got us to this point.Our lower brain and it’s effective use of the motivational triad.Ok, yes, all those words.What ‘s the lower brain, why does it have a triad and does that involve nuclear arms?       -      Lower braino  Conservation of energyo  Seeking Pleasureo  Avoiding pain


26 Feb 2020

Rank #17

Podcast cover

Why feelings matter - with Darcy Spafford

FeelingsThe 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 your life, stop using pornography, become more productive, have greater success, being aware of your feelings is key. There are three things that we humans do when it comes to negative feelings. We either try to avoid or react to our negative feelings or we feel them. Avoiding and reacting usually looks like short term bursts of “good” feelings. This is dopamine to your brain. Like when you are bored and you pick up your phone to play candy crush or, like me, you read the news. If I think about it, there isn’t a lot of long term positive coming out of me being so tuned in to all the news that is out there. In fact, there is a lot of scientific evidence out there that says reading the news has a long term negative impact on a person. But it makes me feel good in the moment. But, if I want to feel good long term, I have to be able to feel bad short term. I have to be willing to feel uncomfortable in the moment to have long term joy and success and love in my life. For LDS men who are trying to deal with all the demands we see on our time from our dedicated family life, our church callings and our desire to excel at the office, being more familiar with the tradeoffs that we are making in short term dopamine hits is essential to creating and enjoying bigger long term joy and happiness. Our culture has made avoiding emotion quite easy and acceptable. Some of the most common ways we avoid our emotions are overeating, pornography and working. That includes working at our church callings.   We live in a world where there is a lot of dopamine available to us in all kinds of easy access formats. The majority of us don’t realize that is what we are doing.  But, looking for that dopamine hit short term, really hinders our long term happiness and joy. I often tell my clients, they pay me a lot of money to learn how to feel bad. The question I ask, and you can ask yourself is, do I want to feel good now, or do I want to feel good long term? Even more pressing is, am I willing to feel bad now so I can feel good long term? Lifting weights is a really good example of this. The short term pain of lifting weights, having mico tears in your muscles and getting up early to go to the gym, maybe avoiding certain foods to improve your muscle growth or eating certain foods for the same reason may be unpleasant. But those who lift religiously will tell you that the long term satisfaction of those short bursts of unpleasantness are well worth it. By the way, feelings are just that, feelings. They aren’t going to hurt you. So, learning to allow an emotion, feel your feelings, is a key skill that you can learn. What’s the benefit of learning to feel your feelings? When you are capable of feeling your feelings, you are capable of accomplishing anything you choose to accomplish. Negative feelings are the currency of success. Whether it is in stopping pornography use, or being more productive at work. If you can feel “bad” in the short term, your long term ability to do what you want to do and feel how you want to feel increases in proportion. 


27 Jan 2020

Rank #18

Podcast cover

Life is 50/50 - how do you make that work for you?

-      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?


9 Dec 2019

Rank #19

Podcast cover

Interview with Jessie Ellertson - Coach for Military Moms

See audio


8 Mar 2020

Rank #20