To control your actions you just need to control your thoughts. Sounds simple huh. Your thoughts become actions, repeated actions become habits, and habits make up your character. So why in the world is it so difficult to do this? It seems so simple yet most of us struggle to do it consistently. The main reason is because whether we realize it or not we’ve already used this process to create our current character and our current character takes time to change just like it took time to create. It especially takes time to change feelings and desires.
The simpleness of this concept frustrated me because I could not understand why I could not do something so simple. I was really being hard on myself because I was making progress, just not as fast as I wanted to. Honestly I would not have been ready for an overnight change had I received it anyway. Sure I would have enjoyed it for a time but I would not have learned how to maintain it. So mine was a gradual change of character. Not that I was a bad person but years of bad habits caused made progress slow. Yet it was progress. On the graph of life, even if you have set-backs, as long as the line is going in an upward direction, then you are progressing. We are all here to progress. Just persevere and you will succeed.
Controlling thoughts is really a two step process. First you must remember that you can’t just simply avoid or stop any bad thoughts. This is impossible and will only deepen your addiction. Everyone has thoughts enter their heads all day every day and that doesn’t make them bad. Its what you choose to do with thoughts and temptation that counts. So the first step is simply to acknowledge you feel tempted and that its ok to feel tempted. Of course don’t go seek out temptation, that is completely putting down your defenses.
Second you must replace the tempting thoughts with good healthy ones. So for example, you have a temptation to look at pornography in your mind, you acknowledge that its a temptation and that you are not bad for feeling sexual urges. Then you decide to replace the temptation with another meaning. “I choose to control these urges because I’m a happier and more confident person. I enjoy my life more and other people can also see I’m more confident.” This is just an example so choose an alternate meaning that is powerful for you. Try not to use negative words in your positive statements, i.e. “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t”.
You have to do both steps or this won’t work. Also, don’t feel guilty if a bad thought crosses your mind and you handle it like you’re suppose to. It’s ok to have thoughts cross your mind, just don’t dwell on them or create them. I used to try to be perfect in my thought control and of course this didn’t last long. I would have a bad thought cross my mind and feel guilty even when I stopped thinking about it immediately. This unnecessary guilt would lead me to give up and my thoughts and eventually actions would spiral out of control. So don’t feel guilty if you handled a bad thought correctly, and that means just get rid of it as soon as it appears.
The second part of the thought control process is crucial. You absolutely must get your mind off the bad thought then immediately replace it with something good. This is so important because the bad thought will just return to the blank space left unfilled. Don’t dwell on porn addiction .
The mind likes to be working and engaged in interesting thoughts. A bored mind cannot endure itself and will seek pleasure as a substitute for what you are not providing it. So it is important to always be learning, working, and creating a life in which you will easily have so much to think about that you have no time to dwell on destructive thoughts. Don’t take this to the extreme and burn yourself out quickly by trying to fill every second of the day with something. Remember not to run faster than you are able in this process otherwise you will not be able to endure long enough to change.
Also, try not to focus on your weaknesses too much. It seems that when we conduct a direct and targeted campaign on our bad habits we give them much attention and thought. Giving them too much thought can give them a power they do not possess. It’s all about balance. Addiction is partly a state of mind in which we feel we cannot escape our vice and it is constantly on our minds. Once you train your brain to focus on positive aspects of life you’ve been neglecting then life will become sweeter. Don’t let addiction dominate your thoughts and ultimately dominate your life. Yes, you may be struggling, but you can climb out of this pit while beginning with the pit in your mind. 🙂
Dreams can have a powerful effect on our emotional state. There is the temptation to feel guilty when you have a dream that contains sexual content. Do not feel guilty and do not dwell on thoughts of these particular dreams. Dreams can sometimes have meaning but most of the time they are simply a random collection of our experiences meshed together to form stories we often don’t understand. We dream about the stresses in our life, whether past or present. The main point I want to make here is don’t feel guilty about or dwell on lustful dreams. They are out of your control so far as you are presently concerned. As you clean up your life you will perhaps have less of them but they are not necessarily a judge of your progress. When you wake up after one of these dreams just use the above stated thought control process and move on with your day with a great attitude.