It is time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F word here. Freedom. We'll share straight from the trenches what we've learned from leaving our own addictions behind and coaching hundreds of others to do the same. And since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it.
(00:35): And welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast. I'm back here with Lee who is becoming something of a fixture in these, mostly because there's something about having a conversation where one person can banter ideas back and forth. And after a couple of hundred episodes it seems like we wanted to change. I wanted to change pace a little bit because I do feel like sometimes some of the best answers I've ever given have come because someone else came with a question or a statement that allowed me to approach the situation from a different angle. And so hopefully they're a little bit more interesting to listen to. Hopefully they're a lot more fun to do. Are they? Fun to do, Lee, that's great. And I really appreciate you letting me be a part of it because I really enjoy this process.
(01:16): So today we wanted to talk a little bit about getting caught, guys getting caught. Okay. So backstory, background. When I was stuck with compulsive pornography usage, when I was stuck with I was busy engaged in psychedelic usage illicitly and hiding it from my wife. When I was engaged in a lot of those activities, there was some part of me at some point in time that wanted to get caught because the secret was almost too heavy to carry. Have you had that kinda experience? Definitely, yeah. And there was something about getting caught that even brought me some attention that I wanted. So Interesting. So yeah, in some ways people Tell me more about that. What do you mean brought you attention? Well, there wasn't a whole lot of things that I was doing that were in a positive way that was getting attention. And so sometimes the negative things got me some attention. It was just nice to be seen in the family system that I was in.
(02:16): Okay, yeah. In my case, I think there was some positivity that came out of it for sure. I wouldn't know that I appreciated the attention, but I appreciated some of the aftermath of it. I definitely appreciated finally not having to carry the burden of the secret with me at all. And to finally kind of be free of the guilt and the heaviness and the struggle that comes from hiding things. So I wanted to be caught. And what I would do personally would I would go and I would drop hints. And I was doing it deliberately. I wanted to confess, I wanted to tell, but it was so hard. And those of you who don't know this, the way that the human system, and we have talked about this on this podcast before, cuz really there's not a lot I have to teach people. I'm just trying to get them to see what's really going on.
(03:07): So from every possible angle, the way the human system works is we tend to treat threats to our social status. And that means your top dog, bottom dog. In a marital relationship, that means in employer relationship, that could mean your social standing. It could mean changes in wealth, it could mean any number of those things. Job position, career choice, all of those things. And we tend to treat those as if it were something like a knife being pulled on us as if it were a mortal threat. And in fact, many, many times it feels worse than a mortal threat because it means some impending doom about how the pecking order's going to go from that point forward. And so I knew at the time what the penalty was for hiding something. And I knew that I could handle, okay, I can handle some pornography usage and some sexual climaxes that are on my own and I can handle a little bit of the adrenaline rusk and the risk that's associated with hiding things.
(04:04): And I could handle a psychedelic trip and I could handle those things. That was not the threat to me, but the threat of losing my wife, cuz she'd already threatened divorce once. The threat of having my kids now being in a space where they don't get to see their dad or I don't get to see them, the threat of possible jail time because I was using restricted substances. All of those things made it so that I didn't want to tell at all. And as a result, I hid it and I hid it and I hid it. Now this whole thing sort of raw revolves around the notion that getting caught is a bad thing. Getting caught means I'm the one in trouble. I've done something wrong. I need to repent or I need to make amends. I need to do all of these different things. Getting caught puts me in a negative social standing. And I, I'm guessing that most of you listening can relate to that in some way, shape or form. If you think back over the course of your life, getting caught meant a lot of things when I was 13 and the police officer caught me shoplifting because I sucked at lying and my friends bailed on me.
(05:07): He caught me. And I went in and my mom defended my honor and said I would never do such a thing as that. And then I had to tell her the truth. And then I got interrogated by my Air Force fighter pilot father, which was absolutely dreadful. And then we went to the store and the store owner kind of gave me this stern look, told me he needed to talk to my dad. They walked off. And I sat there sweating bullets in front of a storm thinking I'm going to go to jail. I don't know how the rest of my life is going to roll. , all of those different things. Getting caught meant punishment. It meant writing sentences. I was caught forging my mom's signature in third grade. I had done the homework but forgot to get her to sign it. I sucked at forging signatures.
(05:48): Guys. There was not even a contest. But getting caught meant. My mom came into the school, there was a meeting with the teacher, there was a punishment. I had to write 500 sentences. I will never tell a lie. This was in third grade. Guys, do you know how many lies? I told Simpson it didn't work. And getting caught again. And then my dad was upset with me. I think that was the day that I got walloped with his hand really hard. I'm not sure if he used the belt. I don't think he did. I don't think he ever did. That was the last time he actually spanked me though, because it was such an ordeal. And my sisters were crying in the other room that he went on a big long walk. And just from then on, he never did that. So kudos to my father for having a come to Jesus moment around that one.
(06:33): But in any case, it didn't matter what I did if I was doing something that whether I knew it was bad or not, if I got caught, getting caught meant some kind of physical, emotional, mental punishment as well as privileges reduced and all kinds of other things. And that kind of priming actually creates the very behavior of hiding. Now think for a second. As you're listening, you've been through this, you've seen it. How many of you are excited to get caught? Raise your hand. Okay, not if you're driving, don't raise your hand or just one hand, but do you enjoy relish getting caught? This is the predicament we're in because getting caught doing something has meant some kind of negative consequence in so many different ways. The natural tendency is for us to hide it because we already know what the consequences of the action are.
(07:31): And now we have to deal with the added consequences that other people have created over the course of human history to try and manipulate human behavior. We've created laws and a penal system and a penal code. So if you get caught speeding, it's a whole different thing than if you're just speeding. We know what the consequence of speeding is. But if you get caught speeding, that's a big deal. We know what the consequence of lying is, right? You lie, you get away with whatever, but you get caught lying. Oh, that's a big deal. And as a result, we've all been conditioned to do this, right? So Lee and I were talking about this in the car the other day just around getting caught. And I posed the question, what if it had gone differently? And I'm posing it this way particularly because most of you out here listening have children or are around children. And we have the chance to actually turn it around for the next generation. And I'll share some ideas with you. But before I do not a word from our sponsors, a word from Lee about this. Cause I think he has a unique insight around it from his own perspective.
(08:33): Well, I was sitting here thinking about the trauma certification that I took, and one of the things that they said is that it's impossible to keep your children from being sexually abused. Wow. Yeah. It's just, it's impossible because of what's the prevalence and how sneaky people are in perpetrators and all that. And then the question is obviously, what can you do to protect your children? And they said you have to love them well, but also keep a conversation going all the time. Because if there's no conversation and if they don't feel safe to talk to you about whatever's happening, then they're going to hide stuff. And if there is a perpetrator that does something, they'll never tell you about it If there's not an environment where they feel comfortable and safe and on top of that, that person is going to take advantage of any need that your child might have. So how do you love them? Well, and fill those coffers. So the legitimate need that's there isn't being taken advantage of. And that's in an open environment, I think where a kid feels comfortable.
(09:38): So this happened actually with one of the people that went to our retreats, her Quincy shout out to Quincy, if she's listening right now she does get featured in the book that is coming out by the time this recording comes out. The book is already out, guys. You go to this freedom specialist.com, I'm sure there's a link, a banner, a something there where you can get ahold of the hard you get, will you be able to get ahold of the book? It's called Built for Freedom. It's by yours truly, Bob Gardner. You can probably find it on Amazon and Audible as well as on the website where there's some extra things that you can get along all along with it, some extra bonuses and stuff inside the book. We talked a little bit about Quincy. Quincy had been raped as a teenager and such a beautiful lady had been through all kinds of things as a child.
(10:26): And she had been raped and she thought that she had done something wrong, that she had been the one that had done it because she got roughly woken awake. She she'd been in a sleepover at a friend's house. She got shaken awake in the middle of the night and thought that she had consented just because she hadn't put up a fight because she was sleepy, groggy, half conscious or whatever else. And it was so terrifying to her to have done the wrong thing that the next 20 years of her life were spent trying to be the good G girl to the point where she never told anybody. But her whole life kind of went downhill. And you can read a lot of more of the details in the book, but by the time she reached us at the retreat and she came to kind of work out some kinks that had happened in her recent relationship debacle and some of the depression and the anxiety that she'd been struggling with by the time she got there, her literal belief because of how much she couldn't handle having done the wrong thing, her literal belief was that she had lived this fairytale life and she couldn't remember any of that stuff having happened.
(11:26): And it was only after we started opening and opening things up for her and allowing her system to drop all of this anxiety and whatnot, that all these memories surfaced. And then we helped her process those so that she didn't have to go home with them feeling like she was controlled by them for life or was not a lot of extra trauma. The point being she didn't want to get caught because she thought she had done something wrong, even though even in a rape an abuse situation, she hadn't done anything wrong. And yet just that one fear made it so that two decades of struggle emerged out of that. And that was her fear of getting caught. The abuse happened in one moment. It happened over the course of several minutes. That's it. That's easy to deal with. But all the rest of that pain came from her trying not to get caught on some level.
(12:14): What would've happened there, and I don't know the situation, so I'm speaking very ignorantly, but just make her some woman in some family. What would've happened if in that family there was an environment where mistakes weren't invitations to leave the family or be in trouble or massive amounts of punishment. What if she could have had the opportunity to say, I don't know about this or what happened? Can you help me? So when we're looking at mistakes, there is a lot of societal and religious conditioning that came into it, at least on my account. So people who are raised without that kind of conditioning, I can't speak for them, but on my account, I mean, the story that essentially got handed to me as a kid was, you are supposed to grow up. You're supposed to be something other than you. Are I? I'm supposed to be like Jesus in my upbringing. Other people might have different heroes and characters. I was supposed to be like Jesus, not like me because me little on me was a sinner. I was already a screw up. I was already a mess up by virtue of my birth. And then on top of that, if I didn't do it all right, if I messed up in some way, shape or form, then I was doomed to some kind of afterlife.
(13:23): That was not the ideal. Maybe it wasn't horrid, but it wasn't like the tip top of the party kind of afterlife. And so there was this constant weird background kind of sense that my life was a test. And that's how we talked about it in the church building was that this life was at a test. And if I pass the test, then I get to go on and have something great. But if I don't pass the test, if I get a wrong answer, if I get, then yes, there is some grace, there is some repentance, there's all this other stuff. But make no mistake, I mean, I was just looking on Facebook the other day and somebody else posted a similar thing that I've seen many times, which is just because Jesus died for your sins doesn't mean you get to go on living a life sinning.
(14:01): And that's a fascinating kind of approach. I'm not here to debate whether or not that's true or not true. I'm describing the kind of conditioning that went into my life story. So what happened? I'm in the car and I'm like, what would've happened? And I want you to do this thought experiment with me because I think it's valuable. Imagine having grown up in a totally different environment. They can be the same people, but let's imagine that everybody would, or they can be totally different people if your childhood sucks , okay? But imagine that you grew up in an environment where per a person making a mistake or a person screwing something up, or a person not getting something, a hundred percent correct meant that that person was now growing to another level. Every mistake meant, oh, that's one more thing learned. Just like Thomas Edison with the light bulb. How many different ways did he learn not to make a light bulb? So every take is just like what Victor Wooten described in terms of music. A mistake is literally just that you played a note that you didn't mean to play. It didn't mean that there was anything morally wrong with you.
(15:07): If you or someone is looking to drop the F-bomb of freedom in their life, whether that's from past trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other host of emotional and personal struggles, but they just don't know how or want some help doing it, head on over to the freedom specialist.com/feel better now and check out some of the things we've got in store for you or book a call so we can look at your unique situation and get you the help that you're looking for. And so we and I and everybody else had grown up in an environment, and I know we didn't, but let's imagine we grew up in an environment where every mistake was literally just an indication that we had stretched beyond our current level of capacity that we had broken through our current level of limitation into a wider world. If on a video game, like a PlayStation game or an Xbox game, I had to say both so that I didn't tick off one side of the argument. I have extended the game map, so to speak, and I've entered terrain that I'm not comfortable with or familiar with. And so I've gotta develop new skills and new abilities of if each mistake meant, oh wow, I've grown not in the same place that I was before, what would that mean? And if every time we got caught making a mistake, what happened was that mom or dad or parental figure was like, oh wow, okay.
(16:30): You've actually stretched beyond what you used to be able to do. Cool. All right, it's time to show you a little bit more about how these things work so that you can develop a good relationship with that. So you can learn great skills. Take that for instance with me, with pornography, masturbation and all that other stuff. If my dad had walked into in on me masturbating, most people would assume that that would be an embarrassing situation, right? Whatnot. But if dad had been like, oh, cool, all right, you've figured out some of the mechanics of how your penis works, and also you've also figured out, now there's some bullets in the gun, that means we gotta be careful where we point it. So let me share a little bit more about how this whole thing works so that you understand now that you're growing into this new level of life a little bit more so you can make conscious decisions about what's going to be best for you.
(17:17): Now, what would that have been like in terms of math? I, oh, wow, you didn't catch that answer, right? You mistook the problem. Cool. That just means we get really look at where things went off so that the understanding grows. If every mistake was literally treated like, wow, you've literally stretched yourself beyond where you used to go before and it didn't work out the first time, or maybe it did work out, but in a way you didn't expect, or maybe you discovered something that you never realized was there, and now you're having to cope with it. What if in that space, you and I had grown up with that and my thought in the car is I was literally trying to do this. I was literally trying to map that into my brain. The thought that came to me was like, shoot, if every time I messed up, it meant I gotta learn something new.
(18:04): It meant I got to be taken under wing and mentored. I would've been trying to mess up all the time. I would've been trying to stretch everything. I would've been asking questions like, mom, dad, can I learn this? What about this? And if they'd have been like, no, you're not ready yet, then I'd have gone and tried to figure it out on my own. And then when I did mess up or I did get caught or something else happened, then they would've been like, well, I guess you are ready. I guess it's time because you've actually stretched and you've gone and you've sought out answers. And so it's time to honor that by helping you initiating you into another phase of life. And I thought, man, if I had grown up that way, life would've been a chasing down of the limitations. It would've been looking for not the walls to keep me in and not all the lines that I was going to cross and feel horrible about. Who would've been looking for, wow, okay, I messed up on this relationship and it didn't work. Well, awesome. That means it's a chance to learn. That means we didn't communicate well and that would've changed everything about how I approached all the things that pretty much got me stuck.
(19:04): There's an element when we originally talked about it, but even now as we talk about it, there's a part of my heart that just kind of gasp, but wow, wow. All the things that I took on in my little mind's understanding of who I was as far as being bad or I was left, and I'm sure other people can identify this with this as well, but I was left to my own means to define who I was and my value and all of that stuff. Where the gas for me is if I would've had a parent that would've said, this is what is actually going on right now, you're fine. And this happened and this is what this looks like and this is what we can do going forward. And just to have that opportunity to have that framed for me rather than for me to be left on my own devices and all the weight, the compounding weight of that like you were talking about this lady that was raped, the weight of that through the years that could have been avoided
(20:11): A hundred percent. And this isn't to denigrate, this isn't to say there's no right or wrong or moral truth or anything else like this. I'm not talking about any of that. We're just talking about raising children. We're talking about living in a world where those children, if they are going to learn whatever you've been raised in, whatever truths you believe, if they're going to learn how they can't learn it from a place of fear despite all the scriptures I read that said, God's not a God of fear and all this other stuff. Most of the time the people that were trying to teach me were trying to teach me with fear. They were trying to tell me all the bad things that were going to happen and all the ways that my life was going to go downhill. So by the time I got called a porn addict, which I wasn't fully aware of any of that stuff, I didn't know.
(20:54): And there is no such thing as addiction if you've listened to me at all. But porn addiction in particular, none of the therapists and counselors are really going to say anything about that officially, because it's not in the diagnostic and statistical manual. Even the word addiction got taken out at one point. Now it's back in. And so there's a lot of debate about that, but I didn't know anything about that. So what I'd heard about addiction, addiction meant to me all the things I'd learned in my dare class as a elementary school kid. It meant needles and dirty needles and crime and being laid out on the street and all kinds of other stuff. And so that didn't cross my mind at all, at all. And then all of a sudden, and that was drilled in with fear, by the way, your life is going to go downhill quick if you get involved with any of that stuff.
(21:37): And then all of a sudden I'm into pornography and I don't understand quite what it is at first. Other than that, it's really exciting. And then when I put two and two together, I'm like, oh my gosh, this is horrible. It's just shy of murder in the religion that I showed up that I grew up in. At least that's the way that it came across to me. And on top of that, it's an addiction. And so that means all these ideas of crime riddled life and going downhill and now sex trafficking and human trafficking, all that fear, I had already crossed the line and then the label got added by then. Now I'm dealing not just with the compulsive foreigners, but all the fear of what it means. And that compounded the problem. Whereas if instead of being taught about fear and being told all the things that I shouldn't do because of how bad it was going to be and how horrible it was going to wreck my life, if I had been given the opportunity to understand that I actually am capable of resolving my own issues and discovering how to make things work in my life, and that as I grew in my understanding, my parents would be there to help me in deeper ways, understand as best they knew how, then all of a sudden there's no fear of running into something that's going to destroy my life and I'm no longer controlled by fear.
(22:55): There is an element that I think makes the requirement of parents to actually look at the subjects that their kids will run into and come to a place of peace with it themselves, where if they're hiding guilt or shame around it, they're going to pass that on. So it seems to me like if you're going to parent in this way that you're talking about that it does require adults to look at themselves. It certainly required that of me. And I think I had to look at myself because my whole life was falling apart. And so I didn't choose to look at myself in that way. And that's definitely not the easy road to go if you just wanna plug and play parenting, which is what a lot of parenting is. And I will fully admit that my kids spend time on devices like many other children, how much I don't. Is it more or less or whatever else. That's the easy way out. For instance, my dad, he wasn't really comfortable, so he didn't have any guilt or shame around sexuality, but he was definitely awkward about it, wasn't really comfortable talking about it, didn't know how to approach the subject. It's definitely a closed door subject, at least it was when he was raised. It's much more out in the open now, but still many parents are still awkward with it.
(24:07): Or when they have the talk, it's let me tell the kids what I believe and what I think is right, and which lines I think are the ones that you shouldn't be crossing. And it comes across an ultimatum. And from what I've seen, kids just tune it out. They already know what mom and dad are going to say because we've told it to 'em a bajillion times. And so they just turn tune it out. So when my kids are talking to me now after all of this time looking at myself, it's not interested in drawing lines for them about where they can and can't go, but actually getting them to turn their reflection back on their own experience and be like, okay, what happened? Where do you wanna go from here? What'd you learn from that? Yeah, I was almost like the way I was raised was like, we walk in a razor thin line and you take one step to the right or to the left, you're going to hell or you're good or you're bad, or there's no room for failure. No in between. If you did this, you're bad. It would've been nice to be like, these things happen and you can learn from it.
(25:10): And that fits in with Christian theology. It's not like this is foreign. It fits in with I assume a lot of other theologies. I've studied a lot of 'em, but the mistakes in Buddhism are not a big deal. You just kind of keep plugging along and whatnot. The notion of repentance and atonement saviors other people that show up, they all kind of produced this notion of grace. All of the Hebrew Bible talking about the nation itself being redeemed even after everything's gone wrong. I mean, the story of Joseph and Egypt was this massive redemption story cuz Joseph was a little bit of a prick and was boasting about everything, probably non maliciously. Dad was playing a little bit of favorites. The whole family falls apart in the middle of the squabbles. And by the end of that story, the whole family is reunited after many years and Joseph being lost and all that other stuff.
(26:02): The end of the story is not that Joseph won, that's the American version of the story. The end of the story is that even after all that stuff, God supposedly, according to the story, brought the whole family back together despite how poorly they managed the whole thing. So it's not outside of Christian theology, it's not outside of, I assume, Muslim theology. I it's not outside of any of these, it's just just that we don't have a practice of allowing mistakes. And that's partly because we're controlled by fear and we think that fearing something will keep us safe. But actually fearing something is the very thing that will keep you controlled by that thing. You cannot fear something and be free of it. So if you want your kids free of lying, having them be afraid of lying is not actually the end game. And maybe in the beginning it's useful. I'm not saying that rules aren't useful, and we've talked at length about that as well. They have their place. But in the end, being afraid of pornography, being afraid of sexuality, being afraid of drugs, being afraid of breaking the law, being afraid, afraid of criminal activity and guns and murder and all these other things, as long as there is fear inside of you, even being afraid of death, as long as there is a fear there, then that much is controlling you. And that's the last thing I want for my kids.
(27:21): I was just to think of all the stories of fathers in particular because we see a lot of men come through the retreats, but there are some women as well. But all the stories of these men that have come through the program have come to a place of understanding what actually happened to them and come to a place of peace with that. And then we hear the stories of them going home and spending time with, I have a buddy that came and had some issues around anger or anxiety and went home and his wife wrote me a note like everything's changed. It was a new normal. But in the middle of that, his son said like, Hey, can we talk about how your anger has impacted me? And because of what he went through with a freedom retreat, he was able to be very open with that. And he is closer to his sons now than he is ever been. But he had to come to the place where he came to peace with those stories as well.
(28:14): And in that sense, getting caught, even the dad getting caught in his anger. And my kids catch me sometimes saying some things where they're like dead. I'm like, that wasn't very nice. Wow, you're right. Good. Getting caught is an opportunity to look back at the situation and actually catapult yourself further along. Dad gets caught in his anger. That's an opportunity to build a relationship, not an opportunity to get kicked out of the family in every single case. So as we close out today, I just want you to consider this. If you're a parent and you're parenting your children, how can you create a situation or a scenario where getting caught literally means it's a chance to learn? Is that more work for a parent? Absolutely. A hundred percent. It means that you don't get a chance to just have a free day and whatnot. But also I want those of you who are just considering in your own life, think back into your own life.
(29:09): And what if you looked at all of those past experiences where you did get caught and just let your mind run with man, what would've happened? What could I have done? What other things would I be free of in this moment if getting caught at that point in time meant, Hey, wow, good job. You stretched past all of the limitations and the rules and the boundaries that had kept you, that you had been playing with at that point in time. You've reached a new level. And in reaching that new level, yeah, there's some stuff that's maybe not going to work the way you want it to work, but now it's time to induct you into this new level of living. And if you can feel that level of freedom where you're having a gasp, like Lee mentioned, that's changing something in you right now. Because as you feel it, as you consider it, it's not just an aha moment we're looking for.
(29:58): Can you see that you've never actually made a mistake, you've only actually just tried to live your life will and had a lot of opportunities to grow and to learn some of that learning you had to do on your own, others of that learning, other people had to take you through. Yes, we all would appreciate, have not been grounded and punished in all this stuff. We can't change the past, but can you see that there was never anything wrong with you? Just like there's nothing wrong with a toddler who can't figure out how to walk. Yet each level and time of life is a new challenge. It's one you haven't mastered yet, which means that there's nothing morally wrong with you if you haven't mastered it yet. It just means that you haven't figured it out yet. And if you can take that stance, imagine how new relationships, imagine how kids or grandkids, imagine how job challenges or job changes or moving to a new location will be. Imagine how new hobbies and new skills and life events as each one comes up. Imagine how you'll be able to handle that because it's now no longer about, oh no, what if I do something wrong? It's about, wow, what do I get? Learn now.
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