How To Handle Overwhelming Sexual UrgesMar 15, 2020
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the urge to use porn?
There are two types of sexual desires, aches and urges.
We all have them.
An ache is a low-burning desire in the background of your life.
It's like a river that's always flowing, but it never gets too strong.
A sexual ache could be that feeling of wanting a simple hug from a friend or a family member, or some kind of physical touch. You could also ache for a romantic relationship with a partner or spouse.
In addition to aches, we also have sexual urges.
These are not as common or as constant as our aches, but they are way more intense.
They are sudden, strong, and short. Urges usually don't last for over half an hour, if you let them run their course.
And urges are what we are talking about today: specifically those urges that make you want to sexually act out with porn.
If you can learn how to manage your urges, quitting porn will be so much easier.
For me personally, when I started trying to quit porn, I didn't realize how strong my sexual urges were until I tried to resist them. Then I was like, "Whoa, these desires are way more powerful than anything I can handle. God, what am I supposed to do with them? If you created these urges and these aches and these sexual desires, and if they are good according to your design, then where do I put them?"
As a single unmarried Christian, I asked myself these questions. If I'm not having sex and I don't have a girlfriend, then where do my sexual desires go?
I know many of you are struggling with this feeling like you can't do anything against them. When your urges take control, you feel powerless against them.
That's how I felt too.
It took me a few years to learn how to express and embrace my sexual desires in a way that's healthy and holy without feeling the need to give in to them and without feeling controlled by them.
Now I get to help other guys like you do the exact same thing.
Listen to this quote from my client, Joshua:
"I don't have to fight this constant raging battle within myself over trying to stop looking at pornography and stop masturbating. No longer having to fight that battle frees up a lot of energy to pursue the dreams and the joys that the Lord has actually given me."
And that's what I want for you.
I don't want you to feel stressed out by constantly having to fight this raging battle against your sexual urges.
What I want for you is feeling like you can move WITH your sexual desires, because as long as you feel like you're always resisting them, then quitting is a losing battle.
But if you feel like you can move with them and ride them, maybe even surf them, then it will be so much easier for you.
As John Kabat-Zinn says, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."
You can't stop the waves of your sexual urges and your aches and your feelings and your longings, but you can learn to surf them in a way that's healthy and holy.
Here are three steps to learn how to ride out those sexual urges and let them run their course:
- Focus - Whenever you feel that sexual urge coming on, I want you to stop and focus on it, not fight it or try not to get distracted by it, but let it in.
Say, "Hello sexual urge, what's going on with you today?"
Stop and feel where those sensations are located in your body.
Maybe it's a burning feeling at the bottom of your feet, or maybe it's just a heaviness in your chest. Name that.
As neurobiologist Daniel Siegel famously says, "Name it to tame it."
When you become aware of these things, they don't control you as much.
Become aware of the location of the sensations in your body and then rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 - how strong is that feeling?
It might go something like this:
"I feel a sense of fear in my lungs and it's about an 8."
Being able to focus on that and name it is the first step towards surfing an urge.
- Feel - just observe the urge and feel it as it changes.
You might think, "It was beginning to build, but now it went down a little bit. Now it's going way out of control. I feel like it's cresting."
In the moment it probably feels like this urge is getting so strong that if you don't do anything, it's going to destroy you or it's going to last forever.
It's not. Urges usually only last about 30 minutes at the most. But in our body, it can feel like we're going to explode.
Allow yourself to just feel the urge to notice it and to let it affect you a little bit.
Don't fight it, flee it, deny it, or distract yourself. Feel it.
- Soothe - Now I know some of you are thinking, "Soothe? That's my problem. My problem is that I'm soothing."
No. Your problem is that you're soothing in an unhealthy way, using sexual behavior to create a mood-altering experience.
Soothing is necessary. And there are so many different ways to soothe.
What you need to do is identify, "What is the need beneath this urge?"
This urge is there for a reason.
I don't necessarily know what your sexual urges are all about, but for me, sometimes it's the need for acceptance. It's that need to feel connected to somebody.
So when I feel an urge, maybe I need to call my friend, maybe I need to get together with somebody who really knows me and loves me. Or maybe it's that need for physical sensation, for pleasure in my body, which is a good thing.
I can go out and experience that by literally physically surfing or by playing frisbee, going for a run, playing music, playing my guitar, playing the piano.
I don't know what it is for you, whether it's knitting or writing. Maybe you want to write a song or create something, but whatever it is for you, you have to get below the urge, down to the real need.
Maybe it's that need for significance and you need to go out and do something helpful for somebody.
It could even be a need for beauty. So create art, do something beautiful.
Go watch the sunset.
Learn to soothe yourself in a healthy way.
When you can focus on the urge, feel it and get to the need below it and then soothe that need in a way that works and gives you life, then you will get to collaborating with your sexual desires rather than always competing with them.
One time, I took a surf lesson. My instructor was a classic surfer dude. He took me out in the waves, and I was trying to paddle out and I was going directly against the waves. I felt like I was getting nowhere because I would make some progress, and then a huge wave would come and set me back. I was fighting so hard and getting nowhere.
So my instructor said to me, "Drew, stop competing with the ocean. You're never going to win. Start collaborating with the ocean."
And that's what I want to tell you about your sexual desires.
Some of you are trying to quit porn, and you feel like you're getting nowhere because you're always fighting against your sexual desires.
Maybe what you need to do is ask yourself, "Where are my sexual desires trying to take me? "
And then move with those waves a little bit so you can get to where you want to go.
Collaborate with your sexual desires.
You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
If you want to go deeper into this topic, then I invite you to not just consider your sexual urges, but also your sexual fantasies. You can do that by watching my new free video series: The Sexual Fantasy Framework, which I created with Jay Stringer.