Resisting Temptation

Dear Shreck,

Maybe you can help. I have a hard time staying away from things that I know I shouldn’t do. If it’s something that I want, I go for it, even if I know it’s not the best thing for me. I feel like I should have better self control. Any suggestions?

– Tempted

Dear Tempted,

This one is a tricky one. Normally when someone asks me about Temptations, they are referring to the Motown Group. I can tell you a lot about them…but I’m not sure “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” will get you on the right track.

The thing about temptation is that it’s really good at convincing us that we won’t get another chance. Sort of like when you’re on a road trip, and a sign comes up that says “Next rest stop, 1 mile”, and you think “I don’t really have to go, but what if there isn’t another one for another hour?! I can’t go a whole another hour before relieving myself!” Giving in to the temptation means you’ve emptied your bladder, even if you don’t need to at that moment.

Sounds like it’s a good thing to give in to, right?

Except that the next rest stop is only 20 minutes down the road, it’s attached to a huge hub that has food, entertainment, shopping, and all sorts of awesome attractions, and today they’re giving away a free jet ski. And you’re going to miss out on all of it, because you peed 30 miles back.

Temptation is all about the “right now” satisfaction…and arguably it’s a very pleasant prospect. Here are a couple of ways to resist that temptation, no matter what it is:

1) AVOID IT. Whether you’re tempted by the opposite sex, or by reruns of Gilmore Girls, the first and easiest thing to do is stay away from it. For example, I’m addicted to Oreo Cookies (don’t you judge me). Now, Oreos aren’t bad things, but something about eating an entire package in one sitting just doesn’t jive well with diabetes. So I don’t do the grocery shopping, because we’d be stirring delicious sandwich cookie cream into our coffee, spreading it on our toast, etc. My wife shops, and rarely does she buy Oreos. When she does, she hides them. I know we have a package in my house right now. I have no clue where it is (I have not been able to find it, try as hard as I might). Thus, I avoid the risk of diabetes and losing a leg.

2) FIND A HOBBY. If you find that your mind continues to fixate on that temptation, then you need to distract it. Find something you’ve never tried before, like learning a language, playing an instrument, painting portraits of Ernest Borgnine…whatever it is, when you feel the temptation tugging, turn to it. I have friends that take it to another extreme, and when they feel tempted to do something they shouldn’t, they turn on MTV. After half an hour, their brain has turned to oatmeal, and they can’t focus on ANYTHING. Either way, you’re distracted.

3) FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER. Not someone that has the same addiction. If you are tempted by alcohol, your accountability partner shouldn’t be your bartender, the liquor store clerk, your AA friends, or your in-laws (lets face it, they’re the reason you drink). Find someone who is able to help you resist the temptation, and isn’t afraid to hold you down while you kick and scream trying to get to it.

Next time you’re on a road trip, remember that the next rest stop might have something more to offer…and bring some empty containers, just in case.

Hope that helps – Shreck