"STEPS IN OVERCOMING MASTURBATION"
Mark Edward Petersen
Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of 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
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
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.
2. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.
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. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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
8. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books
-- Church books -- Scriptures -- Sermons of the Brethern. 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
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 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
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.
1. 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.
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
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
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 eat 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
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