How to Resist Dominating Desires & Repeating Thoughts – reflecting on the 50 Shades Trilogy




– By Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S

 Hello Dear Reader. It came back…again. That thought that led to that thing you had to do that you regretted. Yeah, that thought is back along with that deep desire. I’ve been there too. So how do you resist it?

 When the first of the three movies in the 50 Shades series came out I wrote a blog, Shades are Great in Art but not in Love (found here on my website), on how a love story that includes S&M as in the movie will never truly satisfy; but a love story set in God will bring deep satisfaction. Now this blog expands to the idea of resisting dominating desires and thoughts that try to return.

 Once again I will be transparent and share that I have not seen the films nor read the books and as I shared in the first blog I don’t plan to. This is not a critique of the material then. This is…let us say more of a “call”. A call to live out our desires by embracing our God-given relational and physical needs.

 I checked out the description to the new installment of the trilogy: “Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house,” reads the official description for the Fifty Shades Darker novel. “But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. 

 There we have it. The dominating desire and repeating thought that leads to an inability to resist.

 Two Things We Know about Dominating Desires and Repeating Thoughts

  • They are always connected to God-given desires.
    • Those God given desires are good and when embraced in our identity in Christ will lead to life-giving relationships. When those same thoughts are embraced outside of the life God invites us to live, they will lead to either regret, rejection, or rivalry.
    • Wanting to be loved, to be held, to be desired are all God given desires. They are beautiful and good.
    • Take those same God-given desires and let them be framed by dark secrets and domination and they become soul-killing. Maybe not right away, but over time those God given desires have been given the wrong route for satisfaction.
    • In our humanity we will continue to seek satisfaction but will need more or more intensity to try to reach small moments of satisfaction that never last.
    • Keep the God given desires in their rightful places.
  • They are always going to repeat until you respond or resist.
    • Since these thoughts are connected to God given desires they will repeat until they are cared for. Our brains will remind us of these thoughts while giving us options for responding or resisting.
    • The world and the enemy give us options for response and that’s where a response with resistance is needed.
    • Neuroscience shows us that when a thought pops into our brains there is on average 3-10 seconds before it becomes a desire you must That “I must” is added in before the thought. 3-10 seconds! Why do you think God invites us to daily renew our minds? He made our brains so amazingly that we can see a need and then within 3-10 seconds respond to it healthfully when our minds are renewed.
    • However, if our mind is not renewed and we do not live bravely in our identity, then our brains or the enemy will fill in the blank behind “I must”. Don’t let someone else fill in your blanks. Fill in your own blanks out of your identity in Christ.

 A big idea on resisting from the God who gave us these desires:

We can read in proverbs 29:18 (NIV) “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” The Message version puts it this way: If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

God provides us a very helpful response to resist those dominating desires. We can listen, see, and attend.

How to Resist Starts With Listening

  • Take the time to hear God speak to you through the Bible, through worship and through the Holy Spirit. When we pause we tell our desires not only do I hear you, but we can rest and it will still be ok. We tell our souls God really is good to you and he has good in store for you.
  • We build and grow in a relationship with God. When we listen we give ourselves time to get to know the person of God so we can learn to trust him.
  • Listening is difficult but not impossible and when we listen we can have our minds renewed, our ears opened, and our eyes opened too.
  • If our days and nights are always filled with tasks, music, noise, people, then we don’t have time for the healthy forms of silence and solitude that our minds, souls and bodies truly need. Listening starts with being still, even if it’s a few minutes each day in the bathroom, and resisting starts with listening.

How to Resist Continues With Seeing

  • This verse highlights a principle that echoes throughout Scripture, that of seeing clearly.
  • When we see clearly, we see God for who he is and we see ourselves the way he sees us. Not seeing God and not seeing ourselves clearly can lead to choosing actions that are not helpful or healthy.
  • Seeing clearly also helps us see other people as God sees them so that we can choose to respond to them in caring ways that involve healthy boundaries.
  • We see our next steps and the big picture of our life with a vision, with a purpose.
  • The NASB version mentions vision instead of revelation. Clarity of vision compels us to follow through with decisions that align with wisdom. We have a revelation of our identity, our desires being met because God has promised good for us, and we have a revelation of strength that comes from clear vision.

How to Resist Moves On With Attending

  • Attending means paying attention to and then moving forward with action.
  • Attend to your own stuff—going back to the brain and it’s 3-10 second processing, be encouraged because when you choose to follow the healthy way of meeting the desire you will see that over time your brain will re-create a pathway. This pathway will over time, usually between 21-60 times of choosing the new healthy way, become automatic for the “I must”.
  • Attend to others – staying focused in our own stuff is not healthy, so helping yourself to have time to get your mind off what’s going on and onto helping someone else, will also create what you both need: supported purpose. This goes back to listening well to your own soul, to God speaking to you, and to seeing clearly your own life’s vision.

Combine Listening, Seeing and Attending to promote resisting –

When we listen we still our souls so that we stop working to get it all done. We let ourselves rest and hear how God speaks to us developing peace in our souls. Out of listening we can begin to see ourselves, God and others more clearly developing confidence within us. This allows us to have a clear vision with purpose for our lives so that only things that align with that vision get air time in our thoughts and our actions. Once we see clearly we can attend to our own stuff without fear. We can also attend to others around us as we bring them along in our journey and we in theirs developing healthy support.

A peaceful, confident, purposeful, supported person is able to resist those dominating desires and repeating thoughts!

I understand the characters choices in the 50 Shades installment of returning to the object of her desire and how she felt she couldn’t resist. I’m sure we all understand to a degree.

We don’t have to make those same choices though. We can choose to listen, to see, to attend and therefore resist those dominating desires and repeating thoughts. Let’s all learn to support one another so that we can all bravely live free.

  • What’s your first step with this today?
  • Which one of the 3 listed above is most challenging for you (listening, seeing or attending)?
  • Is there a dominating desire, a repeating thought or a past regret messing with you?

Connect with me and let me know how it goes!





Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is passionate about people. She directs a counseling center in Austin, Texas and co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at  or



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