How to Reclaim Your Mind from Porn & Overcome Lustful Thoughts

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Let’s be real for a minute.  Pornography can totally change the way you see everything: people, places, things, circumstances, life.  Porn changes the way you think. It gets your brain wired on this endless cycle of constantly seeking to be over-stimulated, and it corrupts your heart to crave and steal pleasure at the expense of others – maybe even at your own expense too.  The destructive force of unhindered lust can shatter countless lives around you, as well as your own.

Even if you aren’t sitting there currently looking at pornography or reading erotic fantasy, your mind may still be racing from it.  Immersing yourself in those ideas floods your perspective with the influence of their input, and withholding from indulging in it brings up that frantic itch that desperately screams to be satisfied by any means possible.  For someone seeking to regain control and to honor God with their heart, mind, and actions again, the dialogue inside your head as you lay in your room at night or walk through a crowd of people may start to feel like your biggest enemy, the plague you can never get away from.

What is a guy or girl to do when their thoughts always seem to instantly fling themselves to dark and lustful places?  Here are two things I did to reclaim a thought life centered on God’s truth and to invite Him to renew my mind.

Pray for God’s Eyes

“God, please give me Your eyes. Help me to see people the way that You see them. Let me look and see deeper than skin – to their heart and their spirit.  Let me see the value You created and see in them, and the hurts they feel that You hear and care for.”

That is almost word-for-word of a prayer that I prayed 20 … 50 … 100 … countless times … hour by hour, day by day, week by week, coming out of pornography addiction.  My mind was so flooded with poison from what I’d been watching, that it seemed as though the only things I knew how to think about were sexual. No matter where I looked or what I saw, it got thrown into some kind of sexualized context in my head.

When I was around people, I hardly even registered seeing their full bodies with face and everything, much less was I aware of the spirit – their hopes and dreams and intellect and emotions and pain – that lay within, deeper than their skin and bones.  Yet I knew that God called me in His Word to love people – their whole being – and to serve them sacrificially as Jesus did.  (Matt. 22:36-40, John 13:12-17) I had blinded myself of how to do that though.  So I sought the One who designed us and commanded us to live that way in the first place.  If He was the One who needed to empower me before my addiction, then He was also the One I needed to pull me out of the mess I made and empower me to do it correctly now.

Whenever I looked at anyone, those words were my prayer, and any thoughts that came which conflicted with that goal I did not allow to finish forming and running their course.  I’d pray the same request three times in a row if need be. Slowly, it became more and more instinctive to ask God to help me see and connect with people’s hearts, hopes and hurts, rather than instantly jumping to fantasy and mental exploitation.  

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:12-14

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24

Meditate on God’s Attributes

As well as asking God to transform the way I saw people, I also found it very important to teach my mind new patterns of thought.  I didn’t instantly end up at the point of continual sexual fantasy; it was something I gradually built up and taught myself to do by the patterns I repeatedly engaged in and activities I presented to myself mentally and physically.  So, if I can learn to think a certain way once, then I can learn again to think in a different certain way.

Whether it be that the lustful thoughts are persistent even after praying for God to renew my vision of the people around me, or that I’m in a situation where I’m more alone and my mind or eyes want to wander to where they shouldn’t, giving myself one or more specific things to focus on is often a lot more successful than just telling myself to stop contemplating such-and-such.  It is very hard to think about nothing, so if you want to not think about something in particular, try to know what things you are going to think about instead.

Continuing on what we just saw about the effectiveness of picking new thoughts to replace bad ones, if your goal is to stop living in a way that dishonors God, the best way to go about that is by intentionally striving for the things He says do honor Him.  The victorious Christian life isn’t the achievement of thinking about nothing. The Bible never tells us that our goal is an empty mind, but it does have a lot to say about the kinds of thoughts we should dwell on.  So take some time and search through Scripture to find what it teaches that correct thinking is.  Maybe even make a list on your phone or a stack of index cards or page in a journal of the verses that stand out to you to reference when the moment strikes and it is hard to think of different ideas than the ones that want to invade.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:1-3

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. – Psalm 1:1-2

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. – Psalm 63:6

In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law. – Psalm 199:55

~ Amanda

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