- pg. 2
a Guide to Self Control...
Mark E. Petersen
Council of the 12 Apostles
the Mormon Church at Brigham Young
- Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will strengthen you against
temptation. Pray fervently and out loud when the temptations are the strongest.
- Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. These exercises reduce emotional tensions
and depression and are absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your
physical activity when you feel stress increasing.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others and learn to enjoy working
and talking with them. Use principles of developing friendships found in books such as
to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
- 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.
- 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 that 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.
- 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
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 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.
- During your toilet and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain
partly open, to discourage being along in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.
- 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.
- Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large amounts of fluids before retiring.
- Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food.
Eat as lightly as possible at night.
- Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and not binding.
- Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that might create sexual
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
STEPS IN OVERCOMING MASTURBATION
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
Never touch the intimate parts of your body expect during normal toilet processes.
Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.
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.
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.
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.
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 change the subject
of your thoughts, so to speak.
Never read pornographic material. Never read about your problem. Keep it out of your
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.
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, preferable 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.
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!
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