How to Negotiate Past Temptation

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It always struck me as ironic that St. Patrick’s Day fell within Lent. To have the religious observance dedicated to enduring temptation usurped by a holiday that invites revelry and excess seems counter-productive. Or perhaps it’s intended as the ultimate test of self-discipline.
I often preach that all of life is a negotiation and that our first and most important negotiation is with ourselves … negotiating our mindset. One of the most challenging mindset negotiations is negotiating the self-discipline to avoid temptations.
Let’s face it – temptations are everywhere. Some are placed in front of us by outside sources. And if we’re really honest with ourselves, some are created by us as a means of avoidance, keeping us off course from achieving our goals and greater vision.
So how can we negotiate past temptation? Here’s a few tips to set you on the path.

I  Recognize the Root of the Temptation

When temptation creeps in, take a moment to explore its root. Is it boredom? Avoidance? Peer pressure? Self-sabotage? Conditioning?
It is often the case that succumbing to temptations is rooted in a belief that we don’t deserve and a corresponding resistance to receiving. Deep-rooted fear of success can cause us to sabotage ourselves on the path to our visions.
Practicing unconditional self-love is a great antidote to this problem.

II Identify Your Triggers

Once you get a handle on the root of your distracting temptations, explore your triggers. They can be external or internal cues that evoke an emotional response or craving. What things are likely to trigger your cravings? It can be people, places, situations, emotions and even thoughts.
Self-reflection and journaling can help ID your triggers. Asking others close to you to weigh in can also be valuable in this exercise.

III Remove Yourself from the Situation

One effective way to avoid temptation is to remove yourself from the situation. Simply walk away. If you know you won’t have the resilience to avoid giving in to the temptation, then walk away from it (whether in advance or in the moment).

IV Practice Mindfulness and Self-Awareness

Mindfulness is a valuable tool to develop emotional resilience. Between every stimulus and response is a pause. In that moment of pause you have the ability to choose your reaction. There is great power in that pause.
Engage a simple breathing exercise to regain control of your emotion and allow rationale decision-making to take over. Be fully present in the moment and give yourself the space and grace to choose your action with intention.

V Find Alternatives

If you’ve done the work to identify your triggers and recognize the root of your temptations, you can plan alternatives in advance. Rather than grabbing that remote control or drink or chocolate (or whatever your Achilles heel happens to be) you can choose a more constructive alternate activity, etc.

VI Have a Concrete Plan

Set long-term goals to avoid short-term impulses. Having clarity around your vision and the steps to achieve it make it easier to stick to the vision (as opposed to fuzzy ideas about your future).
Note that it’s not necessary to live in deprivation to achieve your bold dreams. Be sure to build in rewards and downtime as part of your plan. Be intentional so you’re less likely to give in to sabotaging impulses in the moment.

VII Use Visualization

Visualization is an effective tool for living into your long-term goals and to avoid temptation in the moment. When you run into a potential trigger, take a moment to visualize your highest self and action. Allow yourself to bask in the benefits of that higher path to distract you from the short-term diversion.

VIII Practice the Art of ‘No’

If peer pressure or people-pleasing are your nemesis, then practice the art of saying ‘No’. It’s important to set boundaries and get comfortable with positive ways to deliver a ‘no’ so that you don’t let other people’s priorities get in the way of pursuing your own.

You’ll notice that some of these strategies involve invoking distraction while others require the practice of willpower. Both will help with self-control and assist in over-riding emotional impulses that don’t serve you. Take control of your life. Choose your destiny and the path to get there. Negotiating a strong mindset will allow you to develop the self-discipline and strategies to avoid temptation.

 


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