The Real Face of Temptation
“The only way to resist temptation is to yield to it.” Oscar Wilde
Remember how pumped we were on New Year’s Eve? Starry-eyed little us, dreaming of the Me-I’m-Gonna-Be in 2017…There will be pure, hydrating water instead of sugar, caffeine, or booze. There will be movement instead of spreading across the couch; I’ll enjoy deep, clean breaths instead of combustibles; weekly yoga classes…!
I’ll quit smoking, drinking, bingeing, shopping, drugging, punching, flirting, surfing, vegging, yelling, isolating, procrastinating. I’m gonna crush 2017!
For, like, a day. Till something leans on my buttons. Then I’m not gonna know what to do except the things I said I wouldn’t. They’ll make me feel better…or not at all…at least for a little while.
They’ll make me fell better until their effects make me sick, broke, alone or all three. There is a reason we accept the risks involved with our extreme behaviours. We don’t harm ourselves for nothing. In fact, there are plenty of reasons we smoke, drink, binge, shop, punch, flirt, surf the web, veg out, yell, isolate ourselves, procrastinate, etc. What are your reasons for doing the things you resolve not to?
What compels YOU to do those things you resolve to stop?
Do you truly wish to stop at this time? If so, here’s the next step. Read the above question again and this time, the challenge is to take full responsibility. In other words, what is happening INSIDE OF YOU that makes the TV, chips, or text-the-ex so tempting?
Rather than getting down on ourselves for slipping, or “breaking” resolutions, we can use the experience as good information! What was the trigger? When that thing happened, how did I feel (hurt, attacked, unimportant)? What did I need to experience in that moment (confidence, safety, self-esteem)?
When we know what is stimulating the unwanted behaviour, we can create alternative responses.
Start with this:
The next time you encounter stresses or triggers, pause long enough to silently acknowledge, “That triggered me.”
Bonus points for noticing how it triggered you: anger, fear, sadness, holding breath, speeding heart, feeling hot/cold, clenching jaw, etc.
If you can acknowledge that you were triggered and its effects, you can now flip to their opposite. Anger may transform to pardon, fear to love, sadness to peace. Breathe deeply and notice that the heart slows, temperature regulates, and the jaw lets go. By acknowledging our internal responses and taking responsibility for them, we are empowered to act in desirable ways. YOU get to set the standard!
- I’m triggered
- My response is ______
- The opposite response is ________
- Do/Be #3
The feeling, the trigger that underlies the mask of temptation, just wants you to notice it – pay attention and understand this part of yourself. Let’s glean the lessons from pain and lessen our dependency on things that harm us. Broken resolve, though not ideal, is informative when performed with awareness and can be harnessed as part of the healing process.
We aren’t actually tempted smoke, drink, binge, shop, punch, flirt, surf the web, veg out, yell, isolate ourselves, procrastinate, etc. We are tempted to use them to escape pain. Temptation is the mask that pain wears. The true face of temptation is our own wounded self.
This year, instead of reacting in self-harm, let’s yield to temptation by loving ourselves.