How to Begin to Develop Self-Control ~ blog
Why is it so difficult for us to use self-control when we are sexually tempted? Every one of us demonstrates self-control in many areas of life. However, for years we have developed this habit of turning to sexual sin as a way to escape the problems or pain in our lives. After all, it is so available, mostly free, and we can act out in a matter of minutes and nobody knows about it.
All of us exercise self-control in so many areas of our lives every day. The fact that you do not get out of bed and go to work in your pajamas is because you use the self-control of getting up, taking a shower, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and driving off to work.
While on the way to work you are using self-control. Keeping to the speed limit … ok, that may be a bad example … observing traffic lights, using your turn signal, putting on your seat belt. All are small actions that have become habits because you are using self-control.
While at work you see someone has brought in a cupcake and put it in the refrigerator with their name on it. Hopefully, you exercise self-control and leave it alone. Almost all of us are using self-control almost all of the time and that has helped us be successful and to remain out of trouble for most of our lives.
So, why is it that someone who has exercised self-control to get through college, graduate school, built a successful career would throw it all away because of the lack of self-control over our sexual urges?
One scientific study that I have read researched all kinds of self-control. They discovered that whether it be motor self-control of our bodies, cognitive self-control of our thoughts, financial self-control, and emotional self-control … all self-control involves the frontal lobes of our brains guiding us to make good decisions.
Without going into all the details of this study let me bottom line it for you and this insight can be very helpful in helping us exercise sexual self-control. When we see anything, it registers in our mind. Most things we just “see” and do not even register anything of interest. But when we see something that is of interest to us, we look at it. We notice details and specifics.
When we see things that are sexual something very interesting happens. Our brain switches from our frontal lobes seeing it and reasoning that we should look away or applying wisdom that this is a dangerous situation and we should leave … to our amygdala lighting up and our sexual desires becoming inflamed.
Part of this is due to the repeated behavior we have done for years and it happens virtually automatically. Our sex drive takes over and our brain’s ability to brake our actions ceases to help us. So, what can we do to begin to change this deeply ingrained habit?
Interesting enough the study suggests something that we can all begin to use in the heat of the moment. The study suggests something very easy to do and also something what the Bible also has been telling us for centuries. The suggestion is that;
we begin to use our words!!!
This is actually something that we began to learn as children. When a parent sees their child is really upset about something, they try to get them to tell them what they are feeling and why they are feeling it. As the child puts their feelings into words the parent can then begin to help them think through what they are feeling and help alleviate their fears.
The very act of finding words to describe what you are feeling is engaging your frontal cortex and keeping your ability to use reason and wisdom in the time of temptation.
I know it sounds too easy and you might just want to reject it but let me ask you to do yourself a favor and try something this week or maybe even for the rest of today.
When you are tempted try doing this …
- Say to yourself or put it into a prayer like this;
“Lord, I am being tempted right now to lust or ________________. Thank you that there is no temptation that overtakes me except what is common to man and you will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can resist and with this temptation will provide an escape. What do I need to do to escape this temptation?”
- Take immediate action away from whatever is tempting you.
- Turn off your phone, tablet or computer.
- Get up and do something else for a while perhaps even leaving your house and go for a walk.
- Send a text to someone or call someone to have a conversation with them about anything.
- If you are out and looking for a place where sexual sin is drawing you drive home or some public place where you will be safe.
Listen, I have been working on this for over 13 years. The more you begin to do this the easier it gets, and the more temptation will weaken and the more you will grow stronger. It all starts with putting your feeling of temptation into words and taking action.