We all get tempted throughout life. This is one thing that is absolutely guaranteed and no one can escape this fate. However, some of us manage to resist those temptations while others succumb to them time after time.
What is temptation? Oh, it can take a lot of forms.
- It can be a piece of cake when you are trying to lose weight.
- It can be that new iPhone when you are trying to stay on a budget.
- It can be the thought of not helping your neighbor of friend when they need you.
- It can be the desire to scream at your child when he/she is misbehaving.
- It can be the feeling of jealousy or revenge that starts creeping into your heart.
Temptations can be innocent (at least that’s how they look at first) or they can be pretty dark and evil (and the temptation grows only stronger when you try to overcome it). There is a quote that can summarize the nature of temptation:
Temptation is the fire that brings up the scum of the heart.
Have you experienced temptations in your life? I am not asking you to name them just reflect on what those temptations were and how they made you feel. I am sure that 90% of the time you felt pretty bad after succumbing to those temptations. I know that I did.
Temptation is used mostly in the religious context. It is true that Christianity (as well as other religions) put a lot of emphasis on resisting temptations because they are evil and they lead to sin.
Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.
However, even if you are not a religious person temptations will still enter your life. Your response to those temptations will determine the course of your life. Temptation always offers you a choice and only you can make the right decision.
Learning to avoid and overcome temptations in life is the art that can take an entire life to master. There is no one-fit-all rule to avoid temptations and each of us will have to find their own weapon against them. Over the years I have learned a few rules that proved to be really helpful. If you want to bring your life in balance then you can use these rules too to find the strength to resist your temptations.
- Know your core values.
Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values – and witnesses.
Franklin P. JonesYour core values are your biggest allies in resisting temptation. Once you have set up your core values you will find strength in them to avoid any temptation. If you care about your family then you will not even think about cheating on your spouse or spending your nights drinking at a nearby bar. If you have strong faith then you will find inner strength to be a good friend and avoid jealousy. If you care about your health then you will be able to avoid the temptation to skip your workouts and to eat greasy and unhealthy foods.
- Ask others to help you. Fighting your temptations can be difficult but if you let somebody else help you then you can easily overcome them. Another person can remind you of the reasons why you want to resist a temptation and give you a fresh look at the situation.
- Be prepared. Temptations are not an option that we might or might not have in life. We all will be tempted in one way or another. In fact temptations will actually help you grow and become a better person.
Good habits result from resisting temptation
ProverbIf you know your weaknesses then try to plan for the times when you are tempted. Start by developing your core values, discovering beliefs that can get you through anything in life and cultivating good habits.
- Use faith. This is the strongest technique in resisting temptations. I know that a lot of people reading this article are not religious and I respect their choice and beliefs. However, this is the verse that I go to in the times of temptation. Just think about it:
1 Corinthians 10:13. “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”
- Refocus. You can change your focus by meditating, praying, getting engaged in a new activity, going for a walk or just spending time with your loved ones. Take your thoughts away from the temptation that is nagging you and the next time that it approaches you will feel less enticed by it.
- Generate positive experiences. Temptations are so tempting because they offer instant pleasure. Resisting temptation on the other hand is not tempting at all because it feels like depriving yourself of that pleasure. Look for positive experiences around you that will bring you that feeling of pleasure and happiness. When you are tempted to sabotage your healthy diet look for new and fun activities or indulge in a guiltless pleasure (trip to the spa or a long warm bath). Focus on helping others and find pleasure in generosity, kindness and volunteer work. Spend fun time with your family or with your friends. Cultivate mindful experiences in life.
- Look at the big picture. Temptations usually satisfy our momentary desires and they have nothing to do with our plans and goals in life. If you have a clear vision of your life, if you have your priorities in place and if you know what you want in life then resisting most of those temptations will be easy (at least easier.) Whenever you feel that you are tempted think “If I succumb to this temptation, where will it take me?�? “What are the long-term consequences?�? “Will I feel happy about it tomorrow, a year from today, 10 years?�? Your doubts will dissolve when you realize how momentarily your desire is and how far it will throw you away from your life course.
- Overcoming a temptation is a victory.
Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.
Frederick William FaberThink of yourself as a winner, not a loser in life. As a winner you can definitely win the fight with your temptations.
- Learn from your mistakes. Even if you manage to resist your temptations 98 times, you might still fail on the 99th attempt. This is normal and there is no need to get obsessed about your failure. Analyze what went wrong, repent (if you are looking at temptation from a religious point of view), ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself, learn from this mistake and don’t make it in the future. Sometimes we have to know how bad it feels to fail in order to be stronger the next time temptation knocks on our door.
At the end I am asking you to think about your life and how you face temptations. Where did your choices lead you in life? Do you feel that you could be in a better position if you resisted some of those temptations? Are you tempted now? Use your life experience to resist any temptation that you will face on your road.
Keep it balanced!