You know what would be awesome? If someone could show you a guaranteed way to overcome temptation every time it rears its ugly head—and then you could stay laser-focused and accomplish your goals no matter what. And no, that someone isn’t Jesus or Google.
Jesus never had to resist Taco Bell’s Beefy 5-Layer Burrito.
Photo by Mike Baird
Step out of Wonderland and take a step into reality. Nobody’s going to offer us a deal that good because it doesn’t exist. We’re human and that means we aren’t perfect.
But that doesn’t mean we should give up and let fate decide whether we can overcome temptation. On the contrary, you can get damn good at resisting temptations with some practice and the right approach.
No, there’s not some magical formula that’s going to guarantee your success every time, but there are reliable methods people have used for hundreds of years to resist temptation.
Method 1 – Stop telling yourself that you can’t have it.
When you tell yourself you can’t have something, it just makes you crave it even more. If you find yourself thinking along those lines, remind yourself that you can have it, but you’d prefer not to.
Tell yourself, “I can eat this when I want…However, I don’t need to have it now.” This removes some of the urgency we feel when we believe that a certain food is forbidden. It’s like telling a kid to leave something alone. There’s a good chance he may not even thought about it if you hadn’t told him.
Method 2 – Watch Your Thoughts
It is scientifically proven that the more you think about something, the more likely you are to do it. And this is true when it comes to food temptations. As soon as you catch yourself thinking about the temptation, you need to completely switch your attention to something else. Don’t try to struggle with the thought, as that will only magnify it. Just stay detached (you do this by watching your thoughts like an observer) and then think of something else.
If you are an emotional eater, then your window of opportunity is even shorter. It only takes a few seconds for you to become lost in the emotion. And when that happens, the rational part of your brain becomes a slave to the emotional part. It will come up with any rationalization it can to justify the decision. That’s why you can believe you want to be in shape, but then when temptation strikes, you find yourself saying things like, “Oh, well I could have it just this once,” or “Screw it. I don’t really care. I can always make it up tomorrow.” And we all know that we’ll never do it just this once.
Method 3 – Distract Yourself
Okay, so this method works best when you aren’t hungry and it’s just a food craving. If you’re hungry, then you’ll just resume thinking about the food after you’ve finished doing whatever it is that you used as a distraction. The best way to distract yourself is just to think or do something that would require your full attention. This works because it keeps your mind from dwelling on the temptation.
Method 4 – Stop labeling food as Good or Bad
When you label food as good or bad, you set yourself up to desire the bad or off-limits food automatically in your subconscious mind. Instead, just see food for what it is—something designed to keep you alive. If you know something is forbidden, you’re just going to want it more. And honestly, if you practice mindful eating, then most foods that you would label as “bad” probably won’t even be that bad for you.
Method 5 – Just avoid it.
In some situations, it’s just easier for you to avoid the temptation in the first place. For example, let’s say you’re in the grocery store and on the way to the check out, you see box of donuts. You could buy them and stick them into your pantry. But then you’d see it every time you wanted to eat cereal or food. Hence, you’d have to overcome the temptation many times. Or you could just use one of the above methods to overcome the temptation and not have to worry about it.
And if all else Fails…
If none of the above methods work for you, then go ahead and give in to whatever it is you want. Don’t try to have a healthier substitution because you’ll probably end up eating that and the food you were craving. The most important thing you can do is to practice mindful eating to reduce the damage.
And there you go. Now you’re equipped to handle any tempation that life could throw at you. Ha! Wouldn’t that be nice if that was true? With enough practice you can get good at resisting temptations, and it’ll make accomplishing your goals that much easier. I hope you enjoyed my article and found it helpful.
PS. If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comment box below. I’d love to hear from you.