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Plan of Action

fotolia_830750Summary: After you make decisions about what you want to do, you will need to develop a personal action plan considering the specific things you want to address. Since some of the issues may be complex and difficult to address, your success depends on creating and following a personal plan of action.

Determine Readiness

Before you begin this journey, it is important to determine if your personal desire is strong enough to carry you through because success will depend on your level of desire and commitment. Do you believe you can be successful in resolving the issues that you face? In quiet moments when you get in touch with your spirit deep inside, the part that really knows who you are in an eternal sense, do you believe you can overcome these challenges and make positive progress in your life?

Decide and Commit

After carefully and prayerfully evaluating your options, make a decision. However, a decision alone is not enough. You need to make a firm commitment to follow through, no matter how hard the way.

Speaking on how to get control of our lives, Stephen Covey said, “As we make and keep commitments, even small commitments, we begin to establish an inner integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to accept more of the responsibility for our own lives. By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods.” (Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Calendar, 8 Feb. 1996.)

Some men blame their failures on a lack of discipline. While discipline is important, it is not enough. If you struggle day-by-day and decision-by-decision trying to change behavior by self-discipline alone, you will likely fail. If each time you are faced with a temptation you have to make a choice, you will finally tire and make wrong choices. The problem is not a weak will, but that your values and priorities have not become deeply planted in your mind and heart. You need a firm foundation rooted in the principles and core values that are personally important to you. How much better it is to decide once and for all what you will be and do! Each time you are faced with an alternative, you already have the decision made and merely need to yield to it. How much better to give in to the right choice than the wrong one! When you act in accordance with your core values, you will feel personal satisfaction and increased feelings of self-worth. (For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, read The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, by Hyrum Smith.)

Make a Self-Inventory

Before beginning, it is important to do a careful self-examination to determine where you are. Plan to spend several hours defining your current feelings and actions in some detail. Don’t get impatient with the time it will take; the reward will be well worth the investment. Evaluating where you are now is an important beginning step to develop a strategic plan. It can also be a helpful comparison later to measure the progress you make. Your therapist and church leader can help give some objectivity as you ask questions such as the following:

  • What are my current habits, compulsions, and addictions? (Specifically identify the behaviors, their frequency, and intensity. Be sure to include fantasies, pornography, masturbation, and other sexual behavior.)
  • What problems do I have with envy, lust, and pride?
  • How well do I understand myself? What do I understand my divine nature to be? How do I describe my current feelings of self-worth?
  • Am I honest with myself and with others? Do I see things as they really are or do I pretend some problems don’t exist? (List them.) Do I make excuses or lie to cover my actions? (What actions and in what situations?) Do I make excuses or lie to hide my feelings? (What feelings and in what situations?) Do I make excuses or lie to avoid confrontations or situations that make me feel uncomfortable? (What situations?)
  • How do I feel about myself? Do I like myself? (How much and why?) Do I love myself? (How much and why?) Do I enjoy spending time alone with myself? (Why or why not?)
  • Men: How would I describe my relationships with other men? Women: How would I describe my relationships with other women? What close friendships do I have? What do I long for in relationships with men and women? To what degree are those needs currently being fulfilled? Do I develop unhealthy dependencies? (Give examples.)
  • How do I describe my relationship with my father and my mother? Do I enjoy spending time with each of them? How well do we communicate emotionally? In what ways are we honest and not honest with each other? Do I hold grudges? (List them.) Do I believe that he or she loves me? (Why or why not?) Do I feel his or her love? (Why or why not?) Do I feel he or she is proud of me? (Why or why not?)
  • How do I describe my relationship with God? Do I believe that He knows me personally? Do I believe that He loves me? (Why or why not?) Do I feel His love? (Why or why not?) Do I feel He is proud of me? (Why or why not?) How often do I pray? (Is it quality time talking with Him?)
  • How well do I understand gospel principles? Do I understand faith, repentance, and forgiveness and do I do anything about it? How much or how little do I let God into my life? How often do I think of God when faced with temptations?

Not only should you take the time necessary to carefully consider questions such as these, but it is important to write down your answers. Although this may seem like busy work, it will be valuable both now and later. It will help you now as you put together a strategic plan of action because the answers can help you consider areas that need improvement. The information will also be helpful to you later. Sometimes we make progress in such small increments that we don’t notice the progress. Being able to look back later and read the answers you gave will help you see the progress you have made. It will give you a basis on which you can make periodic evaluations of how far you have progressed toward your goals and determine how much further you have to go. When you get discouraged, you can read where you were and gain encouragement by seeing the progress you have made.

Develop an Action Plan

With your initial self-inventory in hand, you can sit down with your therapist or with a friend and identify the areas where you want to concentrate. Be sure to include specific things do to repair, build, and grow. Pick a few areas and write down specific things you can do to improve. A goal without a written plan of action is just a wish. As you read the remaining sections of this website, consider how each issue relates to you personally and write them down in a special section of your journal titled “Action Plan” where you can frequently refer to them, reevaluate them, and add to them.

The sections on this website cover basic issues that most people want to address, and you can begin to concentrate on them. However, you may have issues beyond these that you will need to address in your particular situation. As you put together your plan, be sure to consider both emotional and spiritual aspects. People who are engaged in the following activities tend to find the most success:

Most people who make this kind of commitment experience significant improvements in their lives. They feel in control. They feel fulfilled. They feel at peace.

Consider Emotional and Spiritual Aspects

The emotional repairing and maturing section of your plan may include things like coming to grips with past emotional trauma, resolving current emotional conflicts, overcoming emotional detachments and dependencies, learning to love appropriately, building healthy relationships, correcting self-perceptions, and building self-worth and feelings of masculinity for men and femininity for women.

The spiritual development section may include growing in ways such as surrendering to God, having a mighty change of heart, overcoming envy and lust, giving charitable service, and developing spiritual wholeness. Personal growth and healing come as you put total faith in God who has the power to change your life. There is no condition you could be born into that He cannot repair. There is no condition that could obstruct your temporal and eternal happiness and potential that He cannot correct.

Both the emotional and spiritual aspects need to be addressed during the process or it won’t be complete. Some people say, “I’ve tried fasting and prayer and scripture reading. I’ve tried to be good. But it just doesn’t work!” Others say, “I’ve been in therapy for years and I just can’t seem to make progress.” Some people develop healthy relationships to meet their emotional needs, but neglect the spiritual needs. If you grow emotionally, but not spiritually, you won’t have the spiritual power necessary to make it through difficult transitions. If you move along the spiritual track, but not the emotional one, the temptations won’t go away and the intensity of the urges and desires may be so great that you will find it difficult to resist the temptation. This growth process includes practical steps but also requires faith.

Ask your therapist or other confidant to help you gauge how you are growing both spiritually and emotionally. You may need to increase work in one area or another to keep them in balance. When the effort is not in balance, people appear to make good progress, but the progress is temporary and they eventually relapse. While they take care of some of the deficits in their lives, their progress is not permanent because it is not whole.

Repair, Then Build

It may be helpful to think of your efforts in terms of a two-step process:

  1. Repair: fix the mess (such as correcting your self image, addressing past trauma, resolving gender identity conflicts, and controlling compulsive behavior).
  2. Develop: build a better future (such as making life choices, growing emotionally, developing healthy relationships, and following God).

Keep a Long Term Perspective

We make poor choices in life when we change our focus from eternal, long-term goals to the short term and choose the easy way rather than the more difficult but more important. As Stephen Covey explained, “We are more in need of a vision (or destination) and a compass (a set of principles or directions), and less in need of a road map. We often don’t know what the terrain ahead will be like or what we will need to go through it; much will depend on our judgment at the time. But an inner compass will always give us direction.” (Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Calendar, 25 Mar. 1996.)

Consider Multiple Factors

People who experience same-sex attraction have often faced several issues at critical times in their lives. These may include issues such as rejection, envy, abuse, identity, distrust, or fear. To resolve these issues, you may need to bring together several specific efforts at the same time. Numerous things may have to be in place at the same time for you to make significant changes. Almost invariably, it requires sincere spiritual growth, individual therapy, and sticking with a program for several years. Those who commit to this level usually see significant progress in addressing their challenges.

Some individuals are masters at hiding the real issues in their lives. For them, it may take a trained therapist to help them understand and resolve their challenges. Once they discover their needs, then they can find legitimate, healthy ways to fill those needs. Although you can stop homosexual behavior in the short term by exercising willpower, the emotional deficits and unmet social needs will not go away until you legitimately fulfill them.

Keep Balance

Peter explained, “In my own life, I have come to recognize the need for balance. I believe that a lot of the difficulty I have had is the result of an imbalance. I had too few close friendships during certain childhood and adolescent years. I had too much preoccupation with sex during some adolescent years. I had too little access to a father model during early childhood. I had too little acceptance by my older brother when I looked up to him. For several years, I felt too comfortable spending time with my mother and therefore did not go outside and play with friends.”

Not only can the imbalance contribute to the development of problems, but a continued imbalance can contribute to failure as you try to resolve the problems. Your life is like a quilt. The colors and textures of the individual pieces and threads all combine to make a work of art. Be sure you work on intellectual, physical, spiritual, social, and emotional goals.

Set Boundaries

Another reason people fail in their efforts to control homosexual behavior is because they fail to set boundaries for themselves. A recovering alcoholic, for example, may need to draw the line at entering a bar. If he rationalizes he can enter the bar and socialize with his drinking buddies but not be tempted to drink, he is fooling himself. You may need to establish boundary lines that you commit not to cross.

Physical boundaries may be easy to define but there are also other boundaries to consider that may be more difficult to define, such as emotional boundaries. If you find it easy to fall into emotional dependency, you may need to establish emotional rules and hold to them. Although you may not always be able to control how you feel, you can choose how to respond to those feelings. Your emotions give you clues to understanding yourself. To help you understand emotional boundaries, you may want to read Human Boundaries and Personal Abuse by Melanie Geyer.

Ms. Geyer explains that abuse can also affect the concept of boundaries. All forms of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual) involve a violation of boundaries. Abuse may cause confusion as to what boundaries are and where they can or should exist. To avoid being abused, define your own boundaries. To avoid being abusive of others, respect their boundaries.

You are the steward of your body and have the right to determine who can touch your body. If you have been the victim of abuse, you may have come to feel that others have a right to touch and use your body. This false perception can be changed by discovering your self-worth and working through the effects of abuse with a therapist. If you have become enslaved in sexual addictions, you may feel you are helpless in controlling physical intimacy. But with professional counseling and God’s help, you can overcome addictions and gain control and self-respect.

Take the time now to evaluate current boundaries because they may be nebulous. Setting and obeying personal boundaries is a way to show self-integrity and self-respect. Setting boundaries is not just a one-time event; it is a constant process of defining, redefining, evaluating, and maintaining boundaries.

Monitor Progress

It is common to have recurring doubts as you work on your action plan. Even as you make progress, you may at times become discouraged or have returning doubts. To overcome these doubts, look back at your previous self-assessments and compare your current conditions with them. This will not only give you encouragement, but can help you make adjustments to your plan as needed.

Be Accountable and Write in a Journal

We can receive support by being accountable to others—to God, to your church leader, to your therapist, and to a spouse or close friend. It is important to be accountable to yourself through introspection and journaling. Spend time thinking and writing in your journal about the events and feelings you experience each day. Stephen Covey reminds us that “keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learning promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context.” (Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Calendar, 1996, 12 Mar. 1996.) Don’t just record events superficially. Think and write about deeper levels including your thoughts, feelings, dreams, and ideas. Record anything that moves you, whether the event is happy or upsetting. Describe your feelings and try to determine why you feel the way you do. Studies show that people who write regularly in journals feel less stressed about their lives and more in control.

Journal writing is a way to monitor and direct your life. With the fast pace of life, it can be helpful to pause for a few minutes each day to reflect on what happened and why. The act of writing in a journal gets your thoughts outside your head and slows down your thinking process so you can make connected, complete thoughts. Sometimes, our life passes by us as if it were a dream. But life is not a dream and journaling is a way to help you recognize what is happening in your life and keep it directed. As time passes, your interpretations of the past will change. So don’t just write down facts and events, but also describe how you felt at the time. When you clearly know your thoughts you will be less afraid of them and will see them for what they are. You may also compare current entries with previous ones to evaluate the progress you are making. Journaling can be especially helpful if you do not have someone available with whom you can talk things through.

Journaling is also a process by which you can work out grief and healing. If you have unresolved issues with your father, writing him a letter in your journal can be a way of working things out and bringing closure to painful situations.

Greg explained, “When I don’t write in my journal regularly, I find myself wandering and regressing. Journaling helps me analyze my feelings, assess my actions, and stay in control.”

Use a Multifaceted Approach

You will be more successful if you use all the relationships and resources available, such as family, friends, counselors, church leaders, faith, prayer, group and individual therapy, books, and support groups. You may need to grow in areas such as coming to understand your true self, confirming your masculine identity, healing old wounds, forgiving, reconciling relationships with others, and learning to control your behavior. And most important, spirituality will need to play a major motivating role. Commitment to and faith in God is the key to applying healing power in your life. If you are ready to do these kinds of things, you can be successful.

Consider Who You Should Tell

When and who you should tell about your struggles are matters that each individual must determine through prayer and inspiration. What is best for one may not be for another. You may feel that those who are closest to you should know about your efforts so they can help and support you.


If you are married, your spouse deserves to know about your struggles. You cannot be of one flesh (see Matthew 19:5) if you hide important parts of your life from your spouse. Spouses are sometimes in tune with their partner’s feelings before their partner ever understand them.

Jay explained, “I was married and had children before I realized I had same-sex attractions. After I saw a therapist a few times, I knew I had to tell my wife. I spent quite a bit of time preparing just how I would tell her. I picked a holiday weekend so we would have several days to thoroughly talk things out. I explained to her that I had emotional problems I was trying to work out and that I was seeing a therapist to try to understand them. I explained my feelings of loneliness and we talked about gender identity and the need for male companionship. We talked about my difficulty in developing satisfying relationships with men. It was several hours before I ever used the words homosexuality or same-sex attraction, and I tried to help her see it as an emotional problem and not just a sexual one. I told her I could not make it on my own. I needed to share these experiences with her. There was a lot of talking and crying, then more talking and more crying. Although it was difficult, she was supportive and committed to help me through it. I am grateful that my wife knows about these challenges in my life and that she is there to support me. After a particularly good therapy session or support group meeting, I needed to be able to share my positive feelings and successes with her. This experience has helped us grow together in ways we never did before.”

Ginger explained her situation as follows: “My husband…told me about his struggles with same-sex attraction…after we had been married for one year. As he talked to me that day, I remember feeling a deep outpouring of love for him, and a profound sense of sadness that he had struggled all alone for so many years. I was impressed that he would share something so intimate and painful with me. [He], in turn, was amazed that I didn’t kick him out of my life. He told me it was his first experience with unconditional love. The thought of leaving my husband never occurred to me. He was still the same man I loved, and I felt even closer to him that day because of the way he opened up his heart to me. That day was a turning point in both our lives.” (Hyde, Garrick and Hyde, Ginger, eds. A Place in the Kingdom: Spiritual Insights from Latter-day Saints about Same-sex AttractionCentury Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, 1997, p. 13.)

Parents and Siblings

Jason explained, “I have disclosed my attractions to my older brother since I suspected he also experienced same-sex attraction. The fact that we have shared this part of our lives with each other has brought us closer together. I have chosen not to tell my parents or other family members because I feel it would not be helpful or necessary to do so.”

Steve Andersen wrote the following about telling his parents: “On Sunday, I told my parents and what a relief it was! I never could have expected their response. Had I known they were going to be as supportive as they were, I would have told them years ago. I guess I underestimated them. They were totally shocked, which actually surprised me, because I thought they suspected it when I was growing up. I shared with them all the things I thought about myself growing up and was surprised to find out that they were just my perceptions and not necessarily how other people viewed me, particularly my parents. My dad said that he knew he was nonemotional and that he often has considered trying to change. He said if it would help me and boost my self-esteem, then he would like to try. He then came over and gave me a big hug—the first I can remember in thirty-six years—and I’m thirty-six! He even called me at work the next day, which he never does, just to tell me how sad he was and that he felt like crying, not because he was sad that I was dealing with this, but sad that I had been unhappy for so long and he never knew. What a positive experience!”


Scott wrote the following about his experience telling his son: “The moment we knew would come had arrived. My oldest son (almost fourteen) finally asked the question! I was working on the computer writing about my life experiences when my son came home. He wanted to use the computer and I wouldn’t give it to him, so he kept coming in and out of the room and walking over to see what I was working on, and I kept trying nonchalantly to keep him from seeing what I was typing. I was nearly finished when my hovering son finally came out and asked, ‘Dad, are you gay?’ I dodged the question, and he said, ‘You didn’t answer me.’ So I said something dumb like, ‘Why? Are you?’ He answered that he wasn’t. Then I answered, ‘Yes. I have been.’ Then I looked at him and asked, ‘Does that bother you?’ Having the basic question answered seemed to satisfy him and he just went back to asking when he could use the computer. Later that evening he was very loving. He came by several times and hugged me and told me that he loved me. I read to him for a while at bedtime and when we finished I said to him, ‘Son, it’s important for you to know that I love Mom, and that I always have.’ He just gave me a hug and went to bed. It wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d imagined or feared it would be. In fact, it wasn’t painful at all.”

Children who are loved and respected by their parents tend to love and respect their parents. However, beware that many adolescents are not mature enough to be as accepting or understanding as Scott’s son. You and your spouse should prayerfully decide when—or whether—to tell your children. If you tell them, explain that you are not perfect (if you have made behavioral mistakes), but don’t discredit yourself or demean men (or women) in general. If the children don’t respect the role of men and fathers (and women and mothers), they may develop gender identity problems themselves.


Some people have also found a very positive experience in telling a close friend. They have generally been very surprised to learn that others will still accept and love them even when they know their “deep, dark secret.” This has helped them feel loved for who they really are, rather than for the facade they tried to present. This realization often improves their self-perception.

Todd described his experience sharing personal issues with friends as follows: “True friends will always accept us, even though they cannot completely relate. Having said that, it is amazing to find how many people can relate to same-sex attraction even though they may not have personally experienced such. For example, I know a lot of men I can talk to about their struggles with relating to their father, even though their difficulties may not have contributed to sexual issues. Similarly, female victims of sexual abuse have been able to relate to my difficulties, and vice versa. In the end, I have found that everyone I have shared my ‘terrible secret’ with has accepted me and become a closer friend because of the sharing. Indeed, the process was a necessary part of my healing.”

Use Caution

Although the above stories are positive experiences, don’t expect that everyone’s reaction will be positive. Some individuals have been ostracized from their families or have lost close friends when they told them of their same-sex attractions. The people you tell are human and come from varied backgrounds. They have their own limitations and hang-ups, and each will react differently. Some are able to display unconditional love, but others may lash out at you. Some may blame themselves while others may blame your friends or other situations in life. Be patient and give them time to come to understand, just as you expect them to be patient with you. If they hesitate initially, don’t interpret it to mean that you are unacceptable or unlovable. Recognize that now having shared with them, your relationship can grow to increased levels. Deeper relationships are worth the initial pain they may cause.