To review the THRU IT Sexual Content Response Plan see: Sexual Content Response Plan: Do You Have One?
Here are the steps:
- Tag it: Call it what it is.
- Halt the behavior: Turn it off. Turn away.
- Responsible for the thought: Watch the thought pass on by.
- YoU have a divine nature and destiny: Repeat affirmations.
- Inhale: Take three deep breaths.
- Talk: Talk with God.
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE THOUGHT: WATCH THE THOUGHT PASS ON BY
At this point you have TAGGED the sexual content calling it what it is and HALTED any behavior allowing ongoing exposure to the sexual content. Now we begin Step 3 Be RESPONSIBLE for the thought and watch the thought pass on by.
NOTE: if you don’t want to learn the “why” for this step, simply go to the bottom and complete the Challenge.
SECRET TO CONTROLLING THOUGHTS
Remember in Step 2: Halt the behavior, we instructed you NOT to halt the thought. Now let’s talk about how to handle upsetting thoughts (or feelings).
The THRU IT step “Responsible for the thought: Watch the thought pass on by“ is essential if you ever wish to “control your thoughts.” Here are the concepts: First, we are responsible for our thoughts after we become aware of them. Second, as we learn to watch our thoughts we become an observer of them. And finally, thoughts are like water, make a place for them to go, and they pass on by.
Let’s start with taking responsibility for our thoughts and the technique of watching them.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR AND WATCH THOUGHTS
Henry B. Eyring reminds us about “Taking responsibility to watch over ourselves and thoughts.” Watch this one minute video: Watch Your Thoughts
In order to “watch” our thoughts we must become “observers.” In becoming an observer we realize we ARE NOT our thoughts. We our observers of our thoughts. No matter how evil or awful you think your thoughts are… they are not you! They are just thoughts. Relax.
Learning to “watch” is an essential part of resisting temptation. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” Matt 26:41 Also see: 3 Nephi 18:15; Mark 14:38; 3 Nephi 18:18; Luke 21:36; Alma 13:28; and Alma 15:17.
WHEN DOES RESPONSIBILITY BEGIN?
You become responsible for the “thought” (or feeling) AFTER you have TAGGED the inappropriate sexual message and became aware of it.
The mind has been compared to a stage on which only one act at a time can be performed. From one side of the wings the Lord, who loves you, is trying to put on the stage of your mind that which will bless you. From the other side of the wings the devil, who hates you, is trying to put on the stage of your mind that which will curse you. You are the stage manager—you are the one who decides which thought will occupy the stage …. Our accountability begins with how we handle the evil (distressing sexual) thought immediately after it is presented (on the stage). (Ezra Taft Benson, “Think on Christ,” Ensign, March 1989)
Satan can put thoughts in your mind. See: 2 Nephi 28:22. In addition to Satan, thoughts can be generated by a variety of sources. See: Where Do Thoughts Come From? Again you are NOT your thoughts. When will upsetting thoughts stop? From my experience they will NOT, given we have only limited control on how thoughts get into our mind. Thus the need for THRU IT!
MAKE A PLACE FOR THOUGHTS TO GO AND THEY WILL GO
Watch this two minute video: “Worthy Thoughts” by Boyd K. Packer in order to learn the importance of making a place for thoughts to go.
Watch “Worthy Thoughts” again and look for the answers to these questions: What is water like? And How do you control water? The answers are: What is water like? – Answer: Thoughts. How do you control water? – Answer: Make a place for water to go and it will go.
Notice Boyd K Packer did not recommend:
- Stopping the water-it would only build up and when the dam burst it would be worse.
- Fighting against the water – it makes no sense to become angry and fight against the water, for doing what water is suppose to do -pass on by.
- Judging the water – it makes no difference if the water is polluted, clean, has floaties, etc. water will do what water is suppose to do -pass on by.
We’ll use a combination of guided imagery and mindfulness to bring these “thought control” concepts together.
BRINGING THESE CONCEPTS TOGETHER
Guided imagery requires active use of your “Thinking Brain” and encourages the use of ALL your senses. As you use more senses like smell, touch, hearing, seeing, and/or tasting you become more effective in guided imagery. Guided imagery is a technique of controlling your thoughts in such a way as to imagine yourself being and doing something you are not! Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts (and feelings) without judging them, without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think (or feel) in a given moment.
Our body and mind are connected. Our body responds as though what we are imagining is real. In our minds we accept the responsibility for the thought, imagine the thought as water, create a course for this water/thought to go, and finally watch the water/thought pass on by.
This method is amazingly powerful when wanting to guide an upsetting thought away. Thoughts you want to keep need to take a different course. With coaching, even young children are capable of effectively using this method.
If this is too much psychology for you, don’t worry just follow the script and practice.
“WATCHING A THOUGHT PASS ON BY” SCRIPT
Four simple steps:
1) Imagine yourself in a calm setting with running water. Perhaps a mountain forest with a nearby running river. Engage as many of your senses by imagining how the pine trees might smell; the water sound as it dances over rocks; fresh air in your lungs as you breath; and the beautiful fall colors on the trees.
2) Say to yourself: I am now responsible for the thought (Insert phrase identified in THRU IT Tagging step).
3) Imagine the running water taking on the form of the tagged thought. Imagine the running water taking on the characteristics of your tagged thought. (This sounds weird but guided imagery makes it work.) Your Water/Thought might: move quickly or slowly, be a tsunami or a dribble, be loud or quiet, be blue or black, or even have body parts, etc. At times this Water/Thought creation is hilarious! Accept whatever features your Water/Thought decides to create. Remember, it’s just a thought. And it will pass on by. Allow your Water/Thought to go at its own pace. Accept it for what it is, a thought.
4) Create a place where the Water Thought to go. WATCH it pass on by. Be creative in channeling your Water/Thought. Focus your attention on the Water/Thought until is crashes or gently flows on by.
If the thought recurs, follow the script again. After a few times it’ll become second nature.
As the “Water Thought” passes you on by we’re ready for the next THRU IT step.
Note: As needed replace “thought” with “desire,” “feeling,” etc.
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. Mosiah 4:30
Follow the script. 1) Imagine yourself in a peaceful setting near running water. 2) Say to yourself: I am now responsible for the thought (Insert tagged thought identified in first THRU IT step.) 3) Imagine the running water taking on the form of the tagged thought. And finally 4) Create a place where the Water Thought to go. WATCH it pass on by.
Sexual desire is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and significant power, and I repeat, my young friends, that THIS POWER IS GOOD. (Boyd K. Packer, Why Stay Morally Clean, Conference Apr 1972)