In this podcast (episode #291) and blog, I speak with Josh Harris, a former pastor and bestselling author who has dramatically shifted his views on purity culture. We discuss everything, from healthier ways to talk about sex and safety and the neuroscience of guilt and shame to the trauma of losing your “tribe” and the incredible power of recognizing your mistakes and changing your mind.
As Josh points out, it is okay to admit that you were mistaken, change, unlearn, learn, and grow. This is part of being human. We shouldn’t shame people for changing; in fact, we should honor change and growth and give ourselves and others the grace and space to unlearn and learn.
Yes, change can be scary. It can come with a lot of regret and take a lot of time, and yet it can’t always fix what you did or take away the pain you may have caused. It can take a lot to admit you were mistaken, and it can be hard to deal with the consequences of shifting your perspective. But unlearning negative mindsets is worth it, no matter how hard it is to admit you were wrong. You cannot live according to standards you no longer believe in—sooner or later this cognitive dissonance will catch up to you, affecting your wellbeing and your relationships.
We need to remember that failure is not fatal—it can be an incredible learning experience. Failure can lead you to question truths you have held onto for a long time, helping you learn and grow. It is very hard to shift your mindset when everything is going well; however, when failure hits, suddenly new ways of being and understanding can open before you, showing you that it is time for a change—that you need to start questioning the way things are and exploring other ways of seeing the world. Instead of running away from the pain of failure, we should see it as a door to other worlds. Failure is the ultimate learning experience!
Unfortunately, for many people, the public practice of faith often requires them to put on a face of being happy and at peace all the time, and this is at odds with the human experience, which includes failure, depression, fear, anxiety, grief, sadness, and other mental health struggles. Experiencing these uncomfortable emotions does not make us any less human or our faith any less “worthy”. We should not just be condemned as ‘sinners’. We are human beings worthy of grace, love and understanding.
Of course, it is hard to turn against the tide. It is far easier to only listen to what makes you comfortable…to people in your “tribe”. It takes a lot of courage to step outside of the bubble you have created and hear other people’s stories. Not everyone will think the same way you do, and this is a good thing. Staying where you feel comfortable cuts you off from so much of humanity and other parts of yourself. But, when you step outside of your tribe and embrace these differences, then can you learn to accept yourself fully—as you were, are and will be. You can learn to learn and change, which is our true “superpower” as human beings!
For more on change and growth, listen to my podcast with Josh (episode #291). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:06, 13:15, 28:44 Why Josh Harris shifted his views on purity culture
3:00 Changing your mind and unlearning can be a good thing!
5:16 How Josh found the courage to speak out about his past mistakes and how he manages his regret
6:00 Why failure is a door to other worlds—it is the ultimate learning experience!
6:35 The power of listening to other people’s stories
8:05 Why we need to step outside of our “tribe”
8:42 The dark side of religion
16:50 The pitfalls of always looking for certainty and safety
18:50 Why we should avoid black and white thinking
22:00 The science behind changing your mind
29:00 How to handle to loss of a “tribe” and community
31:30 The messy mind and the wise mind: how do they work together?
36:00, 56:30 Why fear shouldn’t stop us from finding inner freedom
38:02 The power of taking responsibility for your actions
39:45 A healthier way to talk about sex and love with children
48:30 Shame, guilt and purity culture
54:40 How Josh manages his own mental health
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.
Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.