Lustful thoughts, help

What else is going on your life?
Do you volunteer anywhere? Visit the sick? Help around the parish?

Our desires are properly oriented and channeled towards loving and serving others. Lust is not something you are going to bluntly push away. Stop thinking about that purple unicorn!
And we should pray unceasingly. Yet prayer will not make lust disappear like magic.
You have to channel it toward it’s proper end. And that is not usually sex, even for a married person. Sacrifice and service are good outlets.

When you think you are besieged with problems, visit a nursing home, and your issues will be put into perspective.

Out of curiosity, when you pray, what do you pray for? Cessation of the temptation, or transformation?

Sometimes I pray for deliverance from the temptation, or for the strength to persevere. But a lot of the time i just ask for aid, whatever that may be.

I have, but usually the advice I get is the stuff I already listed - pray and work to take your mind off of it. But that stuff doesn’t always work.

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I wish it was that easy

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Those are good prayers. I found that I needed to ask for more though. As in I needed to pray to awaken to real chastity, or to die to lust. I became a major proponent of transformational prayers.

Here is what you do:
Stop, breathe. Are there any resentments or grudges you have from any point in your life, especially very young? Look well at any disappointments you’ve ever had.
And then, forgive them through Christ Jesus.
If a lustful thought pops into your head, don’t just try to push it out. Instead, pray (in your own words), “Oh God, I am having a lustful thought. I will not try to let this go any further than a mere thought, but if there is anything in me that needs to be healed, heal me. May these thoughts go away.” Or something to that effect. Realize that we really are weak, and need God’s Grace. We are helpless without His Grace, really. Realize that God, not another person’s body, gives us what we need in this way.

Everyone has an innate dignity from God. Let our bodies be Temples of the Holy Spirit, and not defiled, and let us love and respect one another.

But do not worry about these thoughts. Do as I described above (not running from them, but bringing them up to God in genuine prayer). Pray from your heart all throughout the day, of course.

Don’t confuse sexual desires with lust.

Lust is having a desire for pleasure of oneself without regard for the other person and you’d work on getting it if you could. It’s objectification of the person as a sex object, not as a person.

Sexual desire is seeing a person of the opposite sex and being attracted to them, while having respect for them as well. It may even be a desire to have a relationship with them if appropriate.

Depends on details like time of day and environment (for what your options are; obviously the middle of a work meeting isn’t the right time to whip out a rosary and start counting beads).

For me I used to have a bigger problem with this than I do now, and the context/environment when the lustful thoughts came was when I lay down to sleep at night (because I had a years-long problem with insomnia dating back to childhood, and when you’re too exhausted to get up and walk around, but your brain refuses to sleep so you can’t do anything but think, for hours… those kinds of thoughts were a challenge for me at that time). And for real: Praying the rosary helped. My tip for this is to really concentrate on every word of it, and on the mysteries, but especially on the words of the prayers. In my experience, I’d find my brain actually was too tired to stay awake if ‘praying’ was all I’d think about (maybe that was the enemy’s influence, where the enemy wanted me to be awake if I’d occupy myself with sin, but gave up and let me sleep if I persistently chose holiness), and I’d gradually be saying each Hail Mary slower and slower as I dropped off… and kept going until I was literally unconscious. Like:

“Hail Mary… full of… grace, the Lord. … … is… with… thee…”

My experience was that it’s literally impossible to simultaneously focus on all my attention on praying these words (even if my attention is fading as I fall unconscious, and it’s several seconds in between words) and to think lustful thoughts. Just keep redirecting your thoughts back to the words, if your imagination drifts. Focus stubbornly on the words. (For me, whereas I used to have insomnia that kept me awake for 3-4 hours every night, when I started praying the rosary and fully focusing on it, I’d find that I usually fell asleep before I could finish a whole rosary (five decades). Maybe twice or three times, I’ve still been awake and decided to ‘agere contra’ the enemy by going around again… and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on the second go-round, in those cases.)

Beyond that context (which let’s be real, relies on you being in bed and able to fall asleep, so is not suitable for public places where you have to interact with other people), I’d stick to the advice suggested by Jason Evert, which is that whoever is the ‘object’ of the temptation that arises… pray specifically for that person. Like, pray for them to have a good relationship with their family, to receive graces and blessings from God, whatever. Beyond also having a positive side effect for the other person (and you, in growing your holiness)… psychologically it seems to drain away lust, to force ourselves to think about the other person as a person (not object) by considering what is actually in their best interests and asking God for it.

Hopefully helpful? Keep at it. And definitely offer up all your attempts to God. This is a struggle that strengthens you.

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Everyone you catch yourself thinking a lustful thought, say a Hail Mary (quietly or in your thoughts) and repeat until the thought goes away. This has worked for me quite well.

I’m assuming you are a guy and lust is directed towards women. I don’t know how old you are, but first and foremost is giving up the porn. Second, see women as their own sovereign individuals entitled to respect and courtesy. See them as just regular human beings, no matter how they look. People created in the image of God. I don’t imagine any woman wants any man to lust for her, the thought may even repulse them. See them as your sisters going through this experience in life. Get to the point in your mind where it is not about the body but the soul.

I think that is the challenge instead of viewing women as sexual creatures view them as human beings. Get to the point where looks don’t matter and you can see the inner beauty of everyone. I’m not chastising you or judging you, but be mature, don’t be superficial. Grow through the depths of your soul where we are all human beings equal without regard to looks. Don’t deify women, but just know that while men and women are different there is nothing so great about how women look that should have you regard them different to men.

But again, that is the problem with porn and porn exposure. I favor putting all porn behind a pay wall to verify age so younger people don’t get involved in it. But if you are exposed to porn too young you get trapped in seeing women as sexual object and not just people. Maybe an exercise would be to go online and look at models on google images. Nothing salacious but just general images of models. Looking at their features and thinking to yourself, “what is so great about them? who do their looks matter?” Having an artistic eye about it. I think if done properly you will see they are just people with particular traits and nothing to lust after. But I don’t know I made that exercise up. Try to think of it objectively like a doctor is all that I get at.

I don’t look at porn. Old memories though…

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I find asking St. Joseph and Our Lady for help is very effective.

I find the type of prayer matters too. If your being tempted a drawn out prayer sometimes doesn’t quite work for me. I like a simple “Jesus I trust in you” over and over until it’s past. The name Jesus causes bad spirits to flee. Just seems to work.

Perhaps someone could edit the title to add a comma in the appropriate place. This is a Catholic forum, after all. :upside_down_face:

Sometimes I think rather than pushing thoughts away, it is better to accept that they are inevitable and actually think harder about them. Nothing kills the mood like a little analysis. Take a look at yourself from the outside.

“Okay, I’m having this thought/picturing this image. My flesh is weak and wants this. Where will entertaining and acting on this thought take me? My body will feel good for a moment and then my soul will hurt. What do I look like in reality while entertaining this temptation? I will feel like a slave to the short term gratification. I will be left with nothing but sin. I will have to tell a priest that I did this.”

Don’t conflate desire with lust. Desire is something you innately experience when you encounter something or somebody desirable. Men and women are meant to be desirable to one another by design and nature. Lust is deliberate, and it is to view somebody as something to be used for one’s own selfish satisfaction. To lust is to hate.

Whenever we are tempted towards a vice, we should respond with its corresponding virtue. So if you are tempted to think of somebody in a lustful way, a good response is to say a prayer for that person, for example “God, thank you for creating this person. Bless their day. Please help them to grow in love and lead them to Heaven”.

In our daily prayer lives, we should pray for A) those who are harmed from sin, and B) those who are tempted by sin. So for lust, we might say something like, “God, bless and heal all of those harmed by lust and by the sexual revolution. Help those who have been abused, used, and who have no direction in life. Help them to become what you want them to be”, and for temptation we might say, “God, bless and help all those attached to impurity. Help us to see our brothers and sisters the way that Jesus sees them. Forgive us. I love you.” Don’t pray exclusively for yourself, but pray for others tempted as well.

You should develop interests and hobbies that are simulating and engaging to your body, mind, and soul.

Finally, you should be patient. You can’t notice the difference in a sapling if you watch it grow in real time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t growing.


That is exactly the point…
Sexuality is part of being human, full stop. Every state in life has it’s own chaste expression of sexuality, from single and abstinent to married.

Trying to eliminate the sexual drive from your life is fruitless. We are called to channel it in properly ordered ways.

That’s why I asked you what else is going on in your life besides sexual temptation.
How are you serving others? That is the proper outlet for the desire to unite with others, and it will put lust back in it’s place.

One breath at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time.
We are constantly being bombarded by things that distract us from living a blessed life.
The good news is that there is confession, absolution, and forgiveness. Thanks be to God!

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