Being tempted by people, things or behaviors which may not be so good for us is part of being human.? I even think that succumbing to those temptations is part of being human, and not necessarily in a bad way, either?- at least not always.? But clearly, there are plenty of times when we want to resist, when we need to resist, or when we regret not resisting.? What helps in those moments?
How do you deal with being tempted by something that you would otherwise not want to do or be a part of?? To be clear, I am not talking about wrestling with an addiction, which is far more serious than a temptation.? Addiction has its own dynamics and requires professional help.? I am talking about finding the capacity to resist that drink you don’t need, that person who really isn’t for you, etc.? It’s not so easy, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help yourself to be better at resisting temptation.
As someone who has wrestled with weight control almost my entire life, I am no stranger to this question.? And I do realize, especially with food, that the line between temptation and addiction can get fuzzy, let alone the role that biology plays when it comes to at least many, if not all, of the things we would otherwise choose to resist.? But there are some things we can do.
- Don’t go it alone!? Even if you can’t “phone a friend” in the moment, or have them right beside you, you can stop and think about the other people who will be adversely affected if you give in.? You can remember that you are not alone, and that what you do has implications not only for you, but for other people about whom you care.? It can be so much easier to resist temptation when you do so not only for yourself, but as a gift you offer others.
- Think about the bigger picture.? Ask yourself to make the decision about indulging or not, not in the context of “is it worth it”, to which the answer is almost always, “yes”.? Ask yourself instead, how indulging either takes you closer toward or drives you farther from what you want in life.? At least that way, your internal debate will be between competing desires and not desire vs. discipline, where the former always stands a better chance in the final analysis.
- Offer yourself an alternative reward for each temptation you resist. This is not about living in some eternal moral boot camp.? This is about creating health and happiness -in both the long and shorter terms.? So don’t put yourself in the position of saying “no”, without an alternative to which you can say “yes”.
We won’t always resist temptation, and like I said, we probably don’t need to.? But these three steps will help us when we want to try.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.