The mastery of sexual feelings is not about the feeling at all, it is about how we think.
I hear men say something like this, “I had the urge so I gave in”, or “The feelings were so intense that I had to act out”, or “You don’t realize how strong those urges were, I couldn’t get out of it”.
The statements above, and others like it, have at least 2 assumptions that need to be addressed:
- Feelings cannot be controlled
- Feelings cause behavior
Feelings can be controlled
I once believed that my unwanted feelings were like a swarm of cockroaches invading my home. I didn’t want them. They come in uninvited. They are really hard to kill. They leave a mess when you finally get them.
I have since learned that unwanted feelings are still like a swarm of cockroaches with one twist. They only come in if I invite them.
Our feelings are preceded by our thoughts. Our feelings are directly related to how we think. By owning how we think we can then begin to own our feelings.
These thoughts patterns are largely subconscious though. Our feelings are influenced by how we have been thinking for years.
If someone is continually having unwanted sexual feelings what can be done? The thoughts that lead to the feelings must be reframed.
Identify the wrong thinking
If someone is continually having unwanted sexual feelings they must dig deep into their thoughts. The first thoughts would be obvious. Are you thinking about sex? Are you fantasizing? If you are having sexual thoughts, stop it.
The layers under this can be harder to detect. At the bottom of it all there is usually entitlement. I have heard men who objectify women through using pornography express, “I respect women”.
A man who looks at pornography does not respect women. You cannot degrade, objectify, and dehumanize a woman and respect her at the same time. See this article for more information on how pornography dehumanizes women.
For this example a man may need to come to terms with the fact that he doesn’t respect women. That thinking, however deep it is, is enabling these unwanted sexual thoughts to continue to resurface.
After the wrong thinking is identified it must me reframed to the truth. If the thought or belief is, “I am entitled to sex”, the truth must be told. “Sex is not necessary to my survival. I do not need it. I desire intimate connection with my partner, but respect her if she doesn’t want to.”
Simply ignoring the thought or saying, “I don’t actually believe that”, will not solve the issue of having unwanted sexual feelings.
How do you know if you have entitled thinking? Its simple. Look at your behavior. If you treat others in a way that is entitled, than you have wrong thinking. Viewing pornography is a sure sign that there is entitlement somewhere in your thinking.
Feelings do not cause behavior
Feelings lead to behavior but do now cause behavior. When a man blames his actions on his feelings his is justifying his behavior. He is not taking accountability for his actions.
Even if a man reacts to a situation, he is still accountable and still makes choices.
At the very least, a man who reacts has given himself permission to act out in a certain way. Let’s say a man says he “loses his temper” and hits a wall. If he really “lost control” why didn’t he hit his spouse? Or his kids? Why didn’t he burn the house down? Because, at least for now, he is not okay with doing those things. He will still act within the realm of what he considers acceptable. A man who hits a wall doesn’t do it because he lost control, he does it because he is okay with hitting a wall when he is mad.
Feelings can lead to behavior if left unchecked. But it doesn’t cause behavior. A man who allows his feelings to lead to unwanted behavior is not taking accountbalility for his actions. He is basically saying, “I know this anger is bad for me and I don’t care how much it hurts you”, or “I know this feeling of lust will lead to relapse but I don’t care enough to master it right now”.
How to change
Working with a coach trained to help men reframe their thinking is the most efficient way a man can navigate this process. Send us a message here to set up your first free session with a trained coach.