Resisting Temptation

Every day we have temptations, they are endless especially for us humans. Temptations usually are a battle between your long term goals and instant gratification. There are many types of temptations; behavioral, bad habits, portion control, the want to be on your electronic devices constantly, laziness, sexual practice. Perhaps you’re on a diet, and you’re tempted to eat a piece of chocolate cake that’s calling for you through a restaurant menu, but you know that giving in and eating it would interfere with your long term health goals.

All of us cave in to a little temptation every once in a while, but some people have more self-control than others. We all know it isn’t easy, changing old habits is difficult for many of us. Temptation is about desiring something that’s usually is not right or good for you. Often, temptation will push you to fulfill your desires in the short-term without letting you consider what could happen later. Unfortunately, temptations can also turn into obsessions. Giving in to temptation can also cause someone to feel guilty, angry, or upset. So, when you want something so badly that your critical thinking and reasoning go out the window, what can you do?

One of the things I preach most about on this website is looking into yourself and picturing where you want to be in the future. Set achievable short term goals right next to your dreams and aspirations. Listen to your body and consider what you crave, need and desire. From there you can start rearranging those desires to fit your role in life and your plan. This insight and these strategies we gain from studying one temptation can also be applied to almost all other temptations because temptations of all kind have a common root. So how can you take the reins on your self-control and make better decisions?


This may seem like a no-brainer. But instead of exercising your willpower, the logical thing to do is to avoid temptation in the first place. Sometimes, life is easier when you make things easier for yourself. Keep food out of your room, don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, stay away from negative influences or people who don’t have the right intentions for you. Choose to be around people who have healthy, busy lives. Willpower is a muscle you can train, and the easiest way to train is to exercise that muscle. You can do this by making small changes in your daily life every day; cutting out caffeine or dairy perhaps, exercise daily even if for 5 minutes, 10 minutes a day. Willpower gets stronger with regular use. Create a gratification system for yourself that will reward your self control with happiness and self satisfaction.


Remember, at any point in your life you can do anything you want. You can always modify a situation to make things easier for yourself. This may require thinking about your situation from different perspectives if you feel stuck on what to do. If you have trouble getting out of bed, you can put your alarm clock on a different side of the room so you have to get up to turn it off. If you have a problem with alcohol, lock away your liquor and give someone else the key. If there’s a coworker who’s distracting you from your partner, move to another section of your office or pick a different shift or off days. 


There are only two things in life that you can pay attention to that will cause you to experience emotion: things you want and things you don’t want. Paying attention to things you don’t want (break ups, getting fired, being betrayed by a friend, death or loss) or that you’re unhappy with will generate these negative emotions, while paying attention to things you DO want (friends, getting invited to parties, pets, a raise) will generate positive ones. When you realize that you are experiencing a negative emotion, recognize in that moment that you are giving your attention to something unwanted and consciously choose to shift your attention to something you want instead. You will start to feel better almost immediately. This type of proactive avoidance isn’t unhealthy.


By reflecting, I don’t mean ruminating and worrying over if you made the right decision by avoiding someone or something. Think about the last time you gave into temptation, the feelings of guilt and self resentment. You spent too much money and came up short for something else, you got too drunk and slept past your work alarm, your ex keeps cheating and lying after you go back again and again. Think of these things as rip-offs, wastes of time and energy. Making these changes in your thought process is seen by doctors as nipping impulsive behavior in the bud. Imagine being who you want to be without being distracted by outside factors or your emotions getting in the way. Choose to be wise.

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