a Guide to Self Control...
...distributed by: Mormon Church at Brigham Young University
The attitude a person has toward his problem has an effect on how easily it is 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 interest in prayer, his testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and other Church callings become burdensome, offering no joy and limited success.
To help in planning an effective program to overcome the problem, a brief explanation is given of how the reproductive organs in a young man function.
The testes in your body are continuously producing hundreds of millions of reproductive cells called spermatozoa. These are moved up a tube called the vas deferens to a place called the ampulla where they are mixed with fluids from two membranous pouches called seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. The resultant fluid is called semen. When the seminal vesicles are full a signal is sent to the central nervous system indicating they are ready to be emptied. The rate at which this filling takes place varies greatly from one person to another, depending on such things as diet, exercise, state of health, etc. For some it may be several times a week, for others twice a month, and for others hardly ever.
It is normal for the vesicles to be emptied occasionally at night during sleep. This is called a "wet dream." The impulses that cause the emptying come from the central nervous system. Often an erotic dream is experienced at the same time, and is part of the normal process. If a young man has constantly masturbated instead of letting nature take its course, the reproductive system is operating at a more rapid pace, trying to keep up with the loss of semen. When he stops the habit, the body will continue to produce at this increased rate for an indefinite period of time, creating sexual tensions and pressure. These are not harmful and are to be endured until the normal central nervous system's pathway of release is once again established.
During this period of control several things can be done to make the process easier and more effective. 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.
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. 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.
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 with 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 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.
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 understnad how it happens, plan to break the pattern through counter-activities.
11. In the field of psychotherapy, there is a very effective technique call "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.
12. During your toilet 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.