How to Overcome Lust

Lust is a hormonal and behavioral cocktail that can be managed.

Depending on religious background, it can be a complicated topic to broach, but it’s a natural body function. There are long-term and short-term methods to control lust and its effects on daily life.

First, let’s understand where it comes from:

Your Body And You, According To The Internet

Lust is a craving for sexual gratification, but it’s a part of a much larger neurobiological process that transitions from a catalyst for the carnal into the long-term pairing of partners, theoretically speaking. At the chemical level, lust is driven by testosterone and estrogen, which are produced in sex organs by cue of the hypothalamus.

When experiencing it, the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine increases. It’s a natural amphetamine produced by the brain and is often referred to as “the love molecule,” according to Dr. John Gottman from the Gottman Institute. Other amphetamines include caffeine and MDMA.

Like love, lust isn’t technically an emotion. It’s larger than that. From a reproduction standpoint, it’s a complex combination of hormones that balances both the intimacy and longevity of a relationship. Once pornography enters the mix, that intimacy becomes a solitary transaction.

Overcoming lust, then, may not be the best approach. Managing your behaviors and being mindful about your body? Well, that makes more sense.

If the feeling of lust is having a lasting impact on you and your relationship to those around you, consider your behavior.

Behavior Patterns And Therapy Defuse Lust

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help with lust.

The Journal of Addictive Therapy defines psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy as a prevention strategy designed to curb irrational thought and core dysfunctional beliefs.

This type of therapy can focus on a prevention strategy that comes from the Trans-Theoretical Model, which is a process of intentionally changing behavior.

In a way, you’re rewiring your brain to understand and control habitual behaviors and responses to stimuli. The process includes understanding the consequences of behavior, preparing to replace that behavior with healthier habits, establishing a course of action, and finally maintaining healthy behavior.

Now, that’s a strategy that takes time and guidance. Keep in mind that behavioral changes are not immediate. There’s no six-minute abs approach to changing or disrupting defined and ritualized habits.

There are tactics, though, that can momentarily short-circuit lust.

Try A Grounding Technique To Be More Present

The process of grounding differs, but the point is to bring yourself back into the present, away from thought patterns or distressing physical feelings.

Maybe that’s a walk. A cold shower. Deep, conscious breathing. Meditation. It depends on the person.

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a common go-to. See five things around you. Touch four things. Identify three things. Smell two things. Try to remember one recent thing you’ve tasted.

Engaging the senses is a primal, active way to bring your body into the environment around you and to gently guide the mind away from the negative thoughts and behavior that might be wrapped around lust when it isn’t appropriate.

One guide to addiction published by an organization in the UK outlines great mental exercises, which may help also pull the mind away from whatever (or whoever) may be triggering lust:

  • Count backwards from 100
  • Describe the process of something you love, like throwing a football
  • Think of three people, spell their names forward and backward
  • Name all of your family, then recite their age and favorite activities

Give The DEADS Processes A Shot

It’s a macabre acronym, but it carries five techniques to deal with urges:

Delay – Put off whatever action may come from lust. That bodily function will come and go in time. Even if it’s a few minutes before the thought is revisited, just give yourself some breathing room.

Escape – Pull yourself away from the triggering situation or stimulation that’s causing the feeling of lust.

Avoid – If you know lust happens in certain places, around certain people, or in certain mind frames, avoid them.

Distract – Be busy. Don’t deliberate about what’s bringing lust around. Take action by doing something, anything, that’s outside the negative action that could be taken due to lust.

Substitute – Trade out lustful activity with something healthy instead. It may sound silly or flippant but try going for a walk or having a snack.

There aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions here. There are a lot of tactics to try on for size. Maybe counseling is better for you than grounding. The point is everyone’s different. You are, too. It’ll take time and effort, but there are ways to change behavior.