How do you control your instincts?


The instincts to reproduce, to eat, to protect yourself and your possessions, for example.

How do you let reason trump your biological desires? How do you resist the urge to look at pornography or the urge to eat until full? These are difficult to deal with, even if you have personally reasoned out, “I shouldn’t do this.” How does one follow the stoics and ascetics?


The same answer for a lot of questions on here. Through prayer and grace, go to confession a lot and mass as much as possible. We Catholics are so lucky to have all these ways to battle sin and temptation. I hope this helped. I conquered a lot of things by doing these daily. All of my prayers to Jesus and the Blessed Mother I always ask for help resisting the temptation of sin. It really works.


Good question!

Replace vices with their opposite virtues, replace the search for sensual pleasure with the search for pain to offer up to God for merit and penance. Love God more, fear Hell more, and beware of idleness and worldly entertainment.

Pray more and more, with the aim for always and with full attention, and choose also among prayers with promises from God because He fulfills His promises.

The more you do things you do not want to do for the sake of God, the more progress you will make. Seriously. You will perceive it.

Just take the above principles and do them all in practical, real ways and you will make progress.

Yes, Christianity -is- an ascetic religion. :smiley: The sooner one realizes and starts to live this the better for one’s soul.

‘Know for a certainty that if men understood how terrible is even one solitary sin, they would rather be cast into a heated furnace, and there remain, living both in soul and body, than to support such a sight. And if the sea were all fire they would cast themselves therein and never leave it, if they were certain of meeting the sin on doing so.’

St. Catherine of Genoa

‘If we are very determined to mortify ourselves and not to be too much occupied with our corporal health, we will soon, by the grace of God, become masters of our bodies.’

St. Teresa of Jesus

‘Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.’

St. Benedict


Replace bad habits with good ones. You basically develop new instincts. When flipping through the channels, I automatically switch to another channel if I see anything racy. I avoid or program out any channel that I know regularly has questionable materials. I develop interests in other activities other than sex, I bowl, play golf, watch sports, home improvement etc.

I taught myself to automatically look the other way if I see an attractive women walking my way. It gives me time to reevaluate what I am thinking about. So instead of my knee jerk reaction of staring and fantasizing, my knee jerk reaction is to turn away and say to myself, there is temptation there, I need be on my guard. The more attractive the girl the longer I look the other way. Sometimes it’s tough, the culture today is to be revealing and provocative.

The media is loaded with suggestive material. Old habits are had to break, but new habits can be developed. I focus on the fact that I’m married, I am out of the market and I’m getting way too old to fantasize about some sweet young thing. It’s my kids turn to play the field, They are single and available. There does come a time in life when the only thing that chasing girls will get you is either a massive heart attack or a big divorce settlement. Middle age guys and old foggies look stupid chasing spring chickens.

Only a few guys retain their looks like Sean Connery or Harrison Ford, and even fewer have the big bucks of a Donald Trump or Paul McCartney.


I witness my mind before, during and after an act. It takes a long time, but eventually the mind decides that bad instincts bring more pain than joy. Some instincts are good, and the mind witnessing acknowledges the fact. In this way the instincts are not suppressed, but channeled to good.


Thank you for the responses.


And thank YOU for this thread. :slight_smile:

Lately I have been relying heavily on repeating the Lord’s Prayer. I get imaginary conversations going in my head with what I am thinking about and in order to “free my mind” I go into the Lord’s Prayer. Your original post reminded me of another … challenge ? I guess you could say … and that is eating. I can tend to overeat and your thread helped to remind me to even say the Lord’s Prayer when I feel the urge to indulge in overeating.


Some really good replies here. One thing people mention that I did as well was to quit watching TV shows that I once considered ok to watch I also got rid of a lot of stuff in my house that would be offensive to God like offensive dvds or books on other religions (Buddhism). One other thing I did was add more crucfixes and religious pictures in my home. They help to remind me during times of temptation. Another thing I do is when a sinful thought enters my mind I just say to myself " Bad thoughts are not permitted here, only thoughts of God are permitted". Sounds corny but it does work.


Great to hear told! People often forget how offensive to God certain objects and belongings are, by their very existence. :slight_smile:


I don’t understand what you mean by “the urge to eat until full.” Assuming one is a normal eater, do you mean going away from the table still hungry after each meal? Or do you mean overeating? Because the normal eater eats until full and then stops. That is a natural function of the body, and is not overeating.

In any case, I don’t think these desires can be fully controlled without the Lord’s help. I remember that after I had my conversion experience, some of the worst things I was doing suddenly became distasteful to me–I no longer had the desire to read dirty books or look at dirty pictures, etc. and couldn’t stand to hear the Lord’s name taken in vain. It was as if the Lord had taken these things away from me. Other things I had to work on with prayer, and some things I still struggle with, like patience and negativity and selfishness and other things. I think mostly things are conquered in small steps, with prayer and constantly trying to do God’s will. I find the Jesus Prayer very helpful when I am struggling with something. Also, in my own experience, I have found that it is best, when I fall, just to ask for forgiveness, pick my self up, and start all over again, rather than ruminate and worry about it, because all that does is cause me to lose sleep and feed the negativity. Also, once I get the idea I’ve overcome something and start to feel a little pride, the Lord usually squashes that.:o

All of which, of course, is only my own experience, and may not be helpful to others.

I don’t know about the stoics and ascetics. I think that is a calling, and I’ve never felt the call to live like that, from what I’ve read of them.


Agreed. I threw away any new age stuff too like CD’s. I can only watch EWTN now because network TV is so bad:D


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