As human beings, we like to think we are strong, but the truth is we struggle in many areas.
We tend to give into temptations. We try our level best to control ourselves, but there are those times that we let temptation get the best of us, and then we do things we don’t want to do. Like the apostle, Paul – we know what is right, but we do the very thing we hate. There must be a way out. Well, I did a little research and this is what I came up with.
1. Learn from Your Mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes, but they must not rule us. Nobody expects you to be perfect, but we also need to be able to learn from the mistakes we make. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Weakness becomes a problem when we refuse to grow and learn from our past slip ups. When you are able to learn from your mistakes, you are better equipped to resist your areas of temptation.
2. Be Accountable to Someone.
One of temptation’s most powerful tools is secrecy. Shame plays a large role in the cycle of temptation, giving in, remorse, feelings of shame then giving in again. Break the cycle by breaking the secrecy. Find a person that you trust with whom you have no secrets about your area of temptation. Knowing that you will have to share that secret part of your life can be a great motivator for successfully avoiding temptation’s pitfalls. But the best part of accountability is that you are not alone in your fight.
3. Practice Delayed Gratification
Try to forgo momentary pleasure for self-fulfillment. Delaying gratification can be hard—just ask a shopaholic walking past a sale rack—but studies at Yale University and published in Psycological Science show that defering your pleasure is actually a sign of intelligence. So do the smart thing…practice delayed gratification in the face of temptation.
4. Avoid Stumbling Blocks
If you have a problem with alcohol, don’t go into a bar. If you struggle with porn, don’t have unrestricted access to the internet. If you wrestle with your weight, steer clear of the all you can eat buffet. It seems overly simple, but the truth of the matter is that avoiding places where you might over-indulge is more than half the battle.
If you find that you are obsessing on your area of temptation, then do what all good parents know to do for a wayward toddler—find a distraction. You need to shift your focus from the object of your desire or weakness. Find something else to think about. Even a momentary distraction may be enough to help you regain your composure and keep you from making a decision that you’ll regret.
6. Count the Cost.
When tempted, the only thing you can think of is the “fix.” Whether it’s the sound of the slot machine when it pays off, or the taste of the chocolate cake, or the rush of emotions from the stolen glance…that’s just the beginning though. Actually thinking through the whole process of the temptation, from first thrill to the end product of embarrassment, pain, consequences and devastation will help you to resist. Is it worth it?
7. Be Prepared.
It’s not just the Boy Scout motto, but it’s a great tool for the person who needs to overcome a temptation. You WILL face temptation, so be prepared. It’s unrealistic to think that you can ignore your problem and it will go away. The battle cry should be, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Know your area of weakness. Know what triggers you to act out (are you hungry, angry, lonely, tired?). Plan now how you will respond WHEN you are tempted.
8. Seek Help.
No matter what your area of temptation, there’s an organized group out there to offer you help, support and assistance. In fact, a brief search of Wikipedia, you can find no less than 41 different programs for everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to Workaholics Anonymous. The point is that there is help available. Take the first step and “admit that you are powerless against your addiction” and get help to be better.
9. Set Realistic Goals
Many people who struggle with areas of addiction and temptation make promises that they’ll quit whatever it is they do. The problem is that they promise to quit “cold-turkey.” While some are able to make that kind of promise and keep it, the fact is that most people need to adjust their behavior over time. Make small changes toward your ultimate goal by setting smaller, realistic, intermediate goals. If you have 200 pounds to lose, start with 10% of your total goal. If you have a problem with alcohol, instead of focusing on a lifetime of sobriety, make your goal to make it through today without a drink. Setting goals you can actually reach, and then succeeding will give you confidence to face the next day, the next temptation and the next goal.
10. Forgive Yourself Quickly
Finally, realize that you are human and that you WILL make mistakes. None of us like to mess up. Nobody looks forward to letting other people down when we fail. But one thing you have to be able to do in order to succeed at resisting future temptation is to learn to forgive yourself when you fall. Don’t make excuses, don’t minimize the impact of the mess up, but don’t beat yourself up about it, either. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, forgive yourself and start again.