Friday, May 29, 2009

Steps In Overcoming Masturbation

Mark E. Petersen
Council of the 12 apostles
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Be assured that you can be cured of your difficulty. Many have been, both male and female, and you can be also if you determine that it must be so.

This determination is the first step. That is where we begin. You must decide that you will end this practice, and when you make that decision, the problem will be greatly reduced at once.

But it must be more than a hope or a wish, more than knowing that it is good for you. It must be actually a decision. If you truly make up your mind that you will be cured, then you will have the strength to resist any tendencies which you may have and any temptations which may come to you. After you have made this decision, then observe the following specific guidelines.

A Guide to Self-Control

1. Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal toilet processes. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.

2. If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, you must break off their friendship. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don't suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken out of your mind for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.

3. When you bathe, do not admire yourself in a mirror. Never stay in the bath more than five or six minutes -- just long enough to bathe and dry and dress and then get out of the bathroom into a room where you will have some member of your family present.

4. When in bed, if that is where you have your problem for the most part, dress yourself for the night so securely that you cannot easily touch your vital parts, and so that it would be difficult and time consuming for you to remove those clothes. By the time you started to remove protective clothing you would have sufficiently controlled your thinking that the temptation would leave you.

5. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, get out of bed and go into the kitchen and fix yourself a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry, and despite your fears of gaining weight. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you get your mind on something else. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

6. Never read pornographic material. Never read about your problem. Keep it out of mind. Remember -- "First a thought, then an act." The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to remain in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.

7. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books -- Church books -- Scriptures -- Sermons of the Brethren. Make a daily habit of reading at least one chapter of Scripture, preferably from one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. The four Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- above anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their uplifting qualities.

8. Pray. But when you pray, don't pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep it in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for the Missionaries, the General Authorities, your friends, your families, but keep the problem out of your mind by not mentioning it ever -- not in conversation with others, not in your prayers. keep it out of your mind!

The attitude of a person toward his problem has an effect on how easy it is to overcome. It is essential that a firm commitment be made to control the habit. As a person understands his reasons for the behavior, and is sensitive to the conditions or situations that may trigger a desire for the act, he develops the power to control it.

We are taught that our bodies are temples of God, and are to be clean so that the Holy Ghost may dwell within us. Masturbation is a sinful habit that robs one of the Spirit and creates guilt and emotional stress. It is not physically harmful unless practiced in the extreme. It is a habit that is totally self-centered, and secretive, and in no way expresses the proper use of the procreative power given to man to fulfill eternal purposes. It therefore separates a person from God and defeats the gospel plan.

This self-gratifying activity will cause one to lose his self-respect and feel guilty and depressed, which can in the extreme lead to further sinning. As a person feels spiritually unclean, he loses his interest in prayer, his testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and other Church callings become burdensome, offering no joy and limited success.

As one meets with his Priesthood Leader, a program for overcoming masturbation can be implemented using some of the suggestions which follow. Remember it is essential that a regular report program be agreed on, so progress can be recognized and failures understood and eliminated.
Suggestions

1. Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and out lout when the temptations are the strongest.

2. Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. The exercises reduce emotional tension and depression and are absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical activity when you feel stress increasing.

3. When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a pre-chosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.

4. Set goals of abstinence, begin with a day, then a week, month, year and finally commit to never doing it again. Until you commit yourself to _never again_ you will always be open to temptation.

5. Change in behavior and attitude is most easily achieved through a changed self-image. Spend time every day imagining yourself strong and in control, easily overcoming tempting situations.

6. Begin to work daily on a self-improvement program. Relate this plan to improving your Church service, to improving your relationships with your family, God and others. Strive to enhance your strengths and talents.

7. Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others and learn to enjoy working and talking to them. Use principles of developing friendships found in books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

8. Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a way of escape. Plan in advance to counter these low periods through various activities, such as reading a book, visiting a friend, doing something athletic, etc.

9. Make a pocket calendar for a month on a small card. Carry it with you, but show it to no one. If you have a lapse of self control, color the day black. Your goal will be to have no black days. The calendar becomes a strong visual reminder of self control and should be looked at when you are tempted to add another black day. Keep your calendar up until you have at least three clear months.

10. A careful study will indicate you have had the problem at certain times and under certain conditions. Try and recall, in detail, what your particular times and conditions were. Now that you understand how it happens, plan to break the pattern through counter activities.

11. In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called aversion therapy. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eating several of them as you do the act.

12. During your toileting and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain partly open, to discourage being alone in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.

13. Arise immediately in the mornings. Do not lie in bed awake, no matter what time of day it is. Get up and do something. Start each day with an enthusiastic activity.

14. Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large amounts of fluids before retiring.

15. Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food. Eat as lightly as possible at night.

16. Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and not binding.

17. Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that might create sexual excitement.
18. It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use in overcoming this problem. A Book of Mormon, firmly held in hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme cases.

19. In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.

20. Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have to be a big reward. A quarter in a receptacle each time you overcome or reach a goal. Spend it on something which delights you and will be a continuing reminder of your progress.

21. Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude patterns which were part of your problem. Satan never gives up. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive mental attitude. You can win this fight! The joy and strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life a radiant and spiritual glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.

2 comments:

rkwong said...

It took my reading of your previous posts to understand that this was in jest, or rather, a criticism. Nonetheless, as funny as much of this post is, I cannot forget how very disturbing the reality that people follow this as personal law is. That this church, and most every church, promotes shame. But that is very specific. They promote all kinds of things. I am an Atheist. That probably turns a lot of people off. But I share so many of your thoughts and philosophies: Humanity first, justice, equality. Does one truly need the presence of a greater being to believe this? To believe in justice and know what is right a wrong? Is religion truly where morality comes from? I'd argue most definitely not. If that were true the religious would not take their teachings ala carte, as I think we all must agree they do -- those who claim to not are called fundamentalists and extremists, and they are certainly out of favor at the moment. But the fundamentalists are not so different than the ala carte religious-type. They mask their own personal feelings in a religion that suits it. There are tons of arguments against religion, but one I agree with that you stated was that it makes humans the most valid beings n the cosmos. This simple idea can translate further into microcosmic spaces: my religion is better than yours, we are more special than you, my skin is a better hue than your skin, etc. Not always outwardly, but privately and subconsciously. Give an inch and they take a mile. I'd say the majority of war comes from this mindset of being special or entitled -- so fundamentally opposite of the teachings of Jesus. All these religious people, waging war? With their moral teachings? So, what's the variable? I'd be crazy to think there's one single answer, but I'd argue that humans have evolved to the point of analytical thought, and like all technology metaphors in most sci-fi where robots take over the world, this train of thought is the most corruptible of all. And corruptible thought process is likely to become corrupt, and religion happens to fall into the category of corruptibility. The genesis and fundamental teachings of many religions are good, and the general idea of having guidelines to live by aren't such a harmful thing in theory. But when it's created by man, a corruptible force, and gets watered down continually by more corruptible forces, it's not too far from cult mentality, good and bad. Your Fall From Grace Post ends with a list of things you do not need, most of which are teachings and mindsets of the church. I'd go one further and ask if you need God at all to be who you are and to care about what you care about. If there's no god, would that make all the brothers and sisters of the world less meaningful? Or would it make all living things (humans, animals, plants insects, plant life, the full gamut) connected and bound, and make all life even that much more profound? Just a matter of debate, because I love everything you have said in this blog. And who knows you might be an atheist, though in your posts you don't seem to be. And I absolutely respect that. All I really care about is one's sense of morality. Where the sense of morality comes from is a matter for people to debate about till the end of time, and that's the fun part. Thought I'd open it up from a person who believes all that you do, except without the god part. :)

Dawson said...

... holy shit!

Sometimes it's easy to forget how how nutso the LDS church can be at times. But they I find myself reading a talk given by Brigham Young or Ezra Taft Benson, or apparently even material published by the church, and I am stunned all over again by their close-minded approach to every aspect of human experience.