"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."

Overcoming Masturbation

Masturbation is a quickly-forming habit that can adversely affect both men and women of all ages. Despite what some might tell you, masturbation is not harmless. If you are trying to overcome masturbation, be assured that it is possible (even though, like any habit, it may take some work). If you are determined to do it, you will be able to. This page will give you some tips that can help you along the way.

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 you will have the strength to resist temptations which will come to you.

After you have made this decision, then observe the following specific guidelines:

1. Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal washing and using the bathroom.

2. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company, especially when you are feeling particularly weak.

3. 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.

4. After you bathe, don't admire yourself in the mirror. Stay in the shower just long enough to clean yourself. Then dry off and GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM into a room where you will have some member of your family present.

5. When in bed (especially if that is where you masturbate), wear pajamas or other clothes so that you cannot easily touch yourself (and so that it would be difficult to remove those clothes. The time it takes to remove your clothing gives additional time to controll your thinking and overcome the temptation).

6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED! Go into the kitchen and make a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

7. Never look at pornography on the internet or elsewhere. Never read about your problem (even on sites claiming to be "educational"). 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.

8. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books, scriptures, talks of church leaders. 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.

9. 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 members of your family who need help. Pray for your friends, BUT KEEP THE PROBLEM OUT OF YOUR MIND BY NOT MENTIONING IT EVEN IN YOUR PRAYERS. KEEP IT OUT of your mind! The attitude of a person toward his problem has an affect 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.

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

Here are some additional suggestions that have proven helpful for others who have successfully overcome masturbation:

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

2. Exercise daily. Exercise reduces emotional tension and depression and is 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 prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.

4. If you ever do give in, don't give up. The worst thing you can do is say "oh well, I screwed up, I guess I'll stop trying". Simply get back on track and don't look back. Until you commit yourself to never do it 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.

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 eat several of them as you do the act. It sounds goofy, but it actually works!

12. During your bathroom and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain partly open. Enough to keep from being totally alone, but still giving adequate privacy. Take cool, brief showers.

13. Get out of bed 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. Believe it or not, having a full bladder can cause you to feel sexually stimulated. As strange as it sounds you may find that going to the bathroom often makes it easier to refrain from masturbating.

16. Always wear pajamas at night (preferably ones that tie or are difficult to open).

17. Avoid people, situations, pictures or websites that create sexual excitement.

18. It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use in overcoming this problem. A Bible, for example, held firmly in hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme cases.

19. Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have to be a big reward. A dollar in a jar for every day you don't masturbate. At the end of the month you can buy something you like. If you don't make it to the end of the month, donate the money in the jar to charity - this one works quite well.

Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude patterns which were part of your problem. Temptation never goes away. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive mental attitude. You can do it! The joy and strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life a glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.


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adapted from the article "Steps in Overcoming Masturbation" by Mark E. Peterson.