Wondering how to resist temptation? You have goals, dreams, and accomplishments soon to be to your name but your default behaviors (that you’d rather leave behind) keep creeping up on you.
- You’re progressive and prefer to set serious goals for yourself
- Staying the same sounds like death
- You look forward to the future and your long-term happiness
- Lesser behaviors keep creeping back into your life
- You find it difficult to stick with the changes you decide to make
- It’s difficult to resist temptation when you’re surrounded by them
Because of this, you want proven, scientific, tested methods for increasing your self-discipline and resisting the temptation to give in when times get rough on you right?
Basics of resisting temptation
Automate your behaviors
Nothing is difficult if it comes naturally to us. Martin meadows make it clear that all the changes you would like to make are as far away as the effort you put into making them habitual in your life.
For some, waking and making their beds is no chore because of its a habit. Our brains, bodies, and minds are used to it, therefore they have no place to come in and cause us the usual problems.
Habits are the key
Habits require a certain amount of time, relative to the individual, to become stuck in our brains. This is a huge mental switch because it takes the difficulty of resisting temptation and confines it the small space that is required to rewire the brain.
You are not doing something hard, you are doing something that is being resisted by the machine of your body because it’s not familiar yet. Resisting temptation is as easy as waiting long enough with sustained effort.
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Keystone habits for resisting temptation
There are activities we can introduce into our lives that can 10x our self-control and ability to resist temptations when they come.
Keystone habits are BIG habits that control other little habits we might try to include in our routine. They bring awareness, willpower, serenity and more joy into your lives, keeping us regulated and making us stronger when we’re wearing thin.
Click here for Martin’s complete list of keystone habits you can start this minute! p14
You need willpower to resist temptation
It’s the gas in our tank. It decides how much motivation to conquer our goals and life in general, and is what keeps us at our best self.
Whenever you say things like “I get cranky when I’m hungry”, it means that you are low in willpower due to lack of something that keeps it at high levels: food.
Willpower is literally what get’s us out of bed each morning, and it decreases with each action we perform relative to the difficulty of that action.
When you understand how to manage your willpower as if it were fuel, you will add another explosive tool to your kit making your desire for change and accomplish unstoppably.
These books are irreplaceable when it comes to fully understanding willpower and how to resist temptation:
The willpower extinct by Kelly McGonigal(affiliate)
What is your why
In order to resist the temptation to give into your lesser desires, you need to put serious purpose behind it. That doesn’t mean that you need to have some lofty, dutiful reasoning, but it does mean that accomplish for the sake of itself is flimsy in the face of something that is immediately pleasurable.
Use the same system that weakens your goals to strengthen them. You cave to natural behavior because it is easy and it feels good.
Attach emotion and serious thought to the future self that has made the transformation you desire, and fully internalize all the benefits and rewards of that.
The easiest example to give is to imagine yourself with the body you want to have and all the wonderful things you love about that scenario.
- You will be fit attractive and healthy
Now understand that the pleasure that comes from remaining the same is merely that of staying in your comfort zone; that is the only benefit. But,
- You are unhealthy
- You feel Unattractive
- It causes low self-esteem
The proper way to visualize
Your imagination is a powerful tool when it comes to accomplishment, and this is the reason it is so heavily utilized in sports and the daily routines of vastly successful persons.
Visualizing is one step farther than imagining.
When you take time to visualize, you are using your imagination to construct powerful mental pictures
- This allows you to see and experience the process and the endgame
- Creates mental imagery called pre-perception which makes you more likely to succeed when it manifests in the physical
If you are serious about resisting temptation, visualize the entire scenario of your temptation rising up, and how you will deal with it.
- The visualization should be detailed and specific
- Make sure what you are imagining is accurate, representative of the actual situation and vivid.
When you create mental imagery, you become more likely to react in that scenario based on what you visualized.
Visualizing yourself in the circumstances where you may give in, and seeing yourself not giving in, makes it easier and you more likely to follow through in reality.
Be picking about what you’re going after
There is nothing valuable about working hard to accomplish things that do not fit into your grand plan for your life.
If you are not 100 percent self-motivated to better yourself, self-discipline is useless and doesn’t work.
The prime motivation for anything we do is that it will better serve our own happiness. So make sure your plans, goals, and changes are in line with how YOU want to be and not someone else.
Be ever vigilant and watch yourself
Another key ingredient to resisting temptation is serious focus.
Your mind must be resolute and fixed in your intent.
A common reason for giving into temptation is a disturbed mind. Not disturbed in the sense of ill, but disturbed in the way that raindrops disturb the surface of a pond.
The mind is easily scattered, and if not brought back to where we would like to direct its focus, we can easily forget that goal we had, or that we chose to give up a certain behavior to make us healthier.
Dopamine can help you resist the temptation
We are not likely to do anything if we don’t have the energy. So its obvious that even though we’d LIKE to be a certain way, our bodies have a serious effect on how we choose to behave each day.
Sometime’s we “just don’t feel like it”
So how do we make it so our bodies are aligned with how we want to be and the changes we’d like to make?
Friend and enemy: Dopamine to resist temptation
Dopamine is your brain is heavily responsible for giving you the boost that means the difference between slowly rising and jumping out of your seat.
In other words, it can seriously put a huge amount of extra pep in your step, which is something you will want to take advantage of in your goal setting.
Many of the things we think we are solely responsible for each day are actually heavily influenced by our brain activity.
For example, whenever temptation rises, and you are staring it right in those devilish eyes, what is going on beneath the surface looks like this
- Your brain sees the temptation (cue)
- You are pulled almost unconsciously towards the cue
- Your brain does this because it remembers this cue from past experiences and that a reward was attached.
This takes us far away from “I just can’t do it”.
Actually, you’re not using all the tools in your arsenal and your body is working against you.
Whenever your brain detects that an activity will release chemicals it likes to have, it makes a powerful push for you to engage in those activities whenever the cue comes.
TIP: cues can come from any of your senses, making it important to stay away from the environment where the temptation exists.
It is possible to use this system to your advantage and the way to do that is utilize it the same way it works against you.
With serious effort and practice, you can rewire your brains “Cue, Action, Reward” process so that it associates the changes you want to make as beneficial because of the rewards that it brings.
Resisting temptation is easy when your brain associates the temptation with the pain that it brings to not accomplishing your desires, being less than you can be and letting yourself down.
Easy ways to build up self-discipline
Pick one or several of these techniques in order to strengthen your self-discipline.
Makes you tolerate the cold temperature for all the health benefits during the day and more long term.
Helps you control the urge to eat too much
Control small things and monitor yourself
Consistency is a staple tool that we should all have in our arsenal of goal crushing weapons. Trick your brain into thinking it is doing something small (one less snack a day) when you are actually increasing your self-control in small doses.
Fatigue is a lie, you’re not really tired
Giving in to temptation comes from a subtle manifestation of being tired.
We had the gusto to do, accomplish, go after our goals and make our changes, but something came along and hit us right when we felt like we didn’t have them
- Physical energy
- Mental energy
The fact is our bodies, can always go farther than we think. There is such thing as a second wind, and the first signs of being spent or without the energy are usually not indicative of us being depleted. There is always gas left in the tank.
Our minds need rest, and with constant exertion, we will become less effective, however, even after we feel completely spent mentally, a quick reset like a nap or a short walk with fresh air can be enough to keep moving forward until you’re ACTUALLY in need of a break.
How to interact with others while resisting temptation
Most of our behavior each day is habitual, subconscious, and solely from our comfort zone. The only difference between you and the success you want in resisting temptation is changing the location and size of your comfort zone.
Let’s face it, the biggest problems in life come from the people who keep around us.
In order to prioritize your positive outcome, you will need to be serious about who you are interacting with.
I recommend only positive influences. Progress is integral to our happiness, otherwise, where just staying the same or going backward.
The people in our lives who are worth keeping close, are those who are on the progress track with us.
Interact with those who are staying the same or have their gear in reverse at pole’s length!
Only associate closely with the friends who support the changes you are trying to make. If they don’t give you the support you need, it says a whole bunch of negative things about them, and you are probably better off without them
Get serious about finding someone who has already done it successfully. Preferable someone who came from similar circumstances as you, so you can ask them for advice, and absorb that they say.
Partner in crime
Find a buddy who is interested in the same change and team up with them. Strength in numbers plus someone to hold you accountable.
The Philosophy behind haters
They see you as a threat. Haters are such because they see someone who has what they are too lazy and afraid to go after.
Try to teach them what you know about making the changes you are making and if that goes sour, move on. They’re not worth it. You need all your energy to resist temptation.
Resisting temptation: solutions for the traps
Think of your future self and the rewards of staying steady before you think of the immediate rewards of caving.
This simple switch in the order of thoughts is enough to significantly increase the chances of you remaining steady in your decisions.
When you are truly motivated to do something, it gets done immediately. A Strong purpose is required for this.
- “I’ll do it later”
- “It can wait until tomorrow”
- “I’m tired”
- “I don’t have time”
- Your purpose for doing it isn’t strong enough
- You aren’t managing your willpower properly
- You aren’t managing your willpower properly, or your tasks are out of order
- The tasks that you accomplish each day are out of order
Make sure that your vision for the type of and the number of results you hope to accomplish are feasible.
If you set out to be physically fit and sexy in four weeks time, and fail to do so, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Which kills motivation.
When your willpower is low (remember it’s like gasoline) you are more likely to give in to temptation. Make sure you accomplish whatever you need when your willpower is high.
The tendency to keep things as they are
Status quo bias
Beneath the surface, we perceive changes (good or bad) as a loss, because it causes us to lose the certainty our brain and mind seek to establish in our lives.
This makes us opt unconsciously for our lives to remain the same in an irrational way.
Regardless of their actual value, we will always place more value on what is ours simply because they are in our possession.
When you get a flat tire, it’s the end of the world. The thing is, flat tires are a very common occurrence, and if you were to see someone on the side of the road with one you would probably drive past and not even feel pity.
A flat tire is not a big deal, but because it is OUR tire that is flat, the world might as well be ending.
Our behavior naturally leans towards avoiding losses rather than focusing on gaining victories in life.
This makes it difficult change ourselves for the better and shed aspects of ourselves that no longer serve us like they did in the past to be replaced with new and better.
Hot-cold empathy gap
A bias that will cause you to go down the road to temptation “just a little”.
We have a tendency to overestimate our abilities to resist temptation when everything is going great.
When the pressure is on, were tired, hungry, dehydrated and irritable, resisting temptation becomes extremely difficult because all of our tools are depleted.
The solution is to prepare for this and not put yourself in demanding situations when you know you will not have the resources to resist.
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