#5 Don’t Think About a Pink Elephant

Lo sasuru acharei eineichem (do not veer after your eyes). The Gemara (Talmud) tells us what this means is if a man looks at a woman for the person of being neheneh (enjoying) in a sexual manner, he violates a lo sa’asei (negative commandment) in the Torah. It’s very important to understand what the Torah is teaching us. You see, the real battle of tayvah (desire) is way before it comes to fruition, way before it comes to an act. The real battle of desire is within the framework of my mind — not thinking about another woman; not thinking thoughts that are inappropriate. The real challenge isn’t not acting, the real challenge is not thinking. And it’s something that takes years and years and years of growth and work.

I’d like to share with you a technique and an observation how to work on this. Let’s assume you get serious and you say okay, I will not think about women in that way anymore. Here’s the problem: I almost guarantee you’re going to fail. Why?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I give you the following challenge. As soon as I say these words, I want you to do exactly what I say. What I want you to do is don’t think about a pink elephant. As soon as I say that what comes to your mind? A pink elephant.

The first battle is understanding how thoughts work. You cannot not think about a woman. You cannot not think about desire. If you find yourself in such a situation you have to think about something else. You have to veer your mind into some other area. If you’re really holding on a certain level, certainly learning is the best thing. If you’re not holding there, any sort of thing that you enjoy — think about things that pull you, that are attractive to you. You can have a scene in your mind, maybe a beautiful mountain, maybe a beach, a beautiful ocean. But the only way that you’re going to avoid thinking about something you don’t want to think about is by thinking something else.

And you have to work on this. You have to have certain images in your mind that you work on, that you think about. Again, it could be something that’s beautiful to you, something that you enjoy. If you’re really into sports it could be a sports scene. But something that you see that’s vivid, that’s real. When you find yourself in trouble, when you find yourself tempted to think about something you don’t want to think about, you go right to the image that you’ve worked on, that you’ve thought about.

It takes time. It takes a few minutes a day of putting that image that you want to think about in your brain. Having it fresh, having it strong. That mountain, that beautiful ocean, whatever it may be, so that when the other image wants to come into your brain you switch the image that’s vibrant, that’s strong, the one you’ve worked on. And you begin getting control of your thinking, which ultimately is the beginning of winning the fight.

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