Tackling Temptation

Do you struggle with temptation? Does it make you feel out of control, or a little bit off course? Does it lead you into a cycle of destructive behaviour? Do you wish that you could look at a Lindt ball, a tube of Pringles, the TV, or your phone without any of these things tempting you or drawing you in to do something that you perhaps don’t really want to do? Whatever it is for you: certain drinks, certain foods, or certain activities, the video and blog below will give you some tips to help you tackle temptation…

Things like Lindt balls, Pringles, watching television and scrolling on your phone are not inherently unhealthy and unhelpful; of course, they can form part of a healthy balanced lifestyle. But the key is whether they are unhealthy or unhelpful for you, and whether you would like to stop them.

The official definition of temptation is to do or have something that you know you shouldn’t do or shouldn’t have. But says who? Perhaps a better way of defining temptation is to do or have something that you don’t really want to be doing or you don’t really want to have. But how can you tackle it?

1. Work out whether the thing that is tempting you is something you actually want to do or have. There will be some seasons of your life when doing or having that thing is actually not a problem at all, but is part of a healthy balance, but there will be other seasons where that same thing will not be helpful or healthy for you. 

To give you an example, I’ve just given up an after-lunch Diet Coke habit. For quite a long period of my life that wasn’t a problem; it wasn’t something that I felt was a massive temptation that I wanted to get rid of. But just recently I’ve been aware that perhaps it isn’t helping my teeth, and it certainly isn’t helping my bank balance! So, I decided I would rather save £12 month (the cost of a can of Diet Coke every day) and put it towards something else. I’d also rather not get yellowy-brown teeth quite as quickly as I might do otherwise. So, I made the decision that this was something that I didn’t really want anymore.

If you can identify something you don’t want to be doing, that’s a good place to start. Is there anything that you want to stop doing and stop giving into? It’s probably best not to try and tackle everything at once, but just pick one thing that you feel that you’re tempted by that you don’t want to be doing any more. 

2. Call out what you’re doing and bring it to the surface. It’s very probable the thing you want to stop has become quite a subconscious habit, something that you just do automatically, without much thinking. So, bringing it to the surface makes it easier to deal with, and more likely you will take action. Ask yourself:

  • When is it happening and how often?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What are the different situations it’s happening in?
  • What is it you are being tempted by?

Work out what the scenario is and be realistic and honest with yourself. For you, calling it out might be saying: “Every evening after I put the kids to bed, I pour myself a glass of wine”, or, “Every evening when I know I should be going up to bed, I watch another programme”, or “I spend half an hour scrolling on my phone.” Being clear about what you want to change, what the triggers are and why it’s happening is key.

3. Dilute the scenario. It’s very possible that it’s not the action or the item that’s the problem as such, It’s probably more the scenario. For example, when you sit on your sofa with your phone, you’re tempted to scroll, or when you see a packet of Lindt balls on the table you’re tempted to eat, or when you’re bored and there’s a half empty tube of Pringles in the cupboard and you’re tempted to finish it. What is the scenario and is there any way you can minimise the risk of temptation? Can you reduce the temptation, flee from the temptation or get the temptation out of the house? Can you change the order in which you do things? Can you find an alternative? If it’s become an automated response, as habits are, if you increase the barriers and increase the resistance to it being automated, you will find this can help you.

I would love to know what temptations that you are struggling with so I can share my insights and help you break free from them. Our next Healthy Whole and Free course is coming up in May and you can register your interest here. We’re also hosting our next Reflection, Coffee and Conversation on Saturday 12th March and it’s free to register – we’d love to see you there!


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