Temptation is something we all struggle with from time to time. No matter what your dirty pleasure is, I’m sure we all familiar with trying to talk ourselves out of doing something we know we shouldn’t do.
Temptation is an extremely conflicting emotion to feel. Whether you are trying not to give in to some double truffle chocolate ice cream or smoking one more cigarette, temptation is definitely a trying emotion. Changing old habits can be extremely difficult but it is just as possible as it is hard! There are certain methods that are proven to help you overcome bad habits and creating new neural pathways in your brain to promote a more positive action. It all comes down to self-control.
Self-control is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. If you can’t control yourself you lose a grasp on everything in your life. Without self-control, the world would be a madhouse, so take a little time to be grateful we have it. However, some people might specifically struggle with self-control. One scientific review article suggests that deliberately changing your environment to reduce temptation or promote a healthy behavior is more effective than trying your willpower in a tempting situation.
The researchers quote, “Because impulses tend to grow stronger over time, situational self-control strategies—which can nip a tempting impulse in the bud—may be especially effective in preventing undesirable action. Ironically, we may underappreciate situational self-control for the same reason it is so effective.”
Based on the study, there are five key factors to exert self-control. You can see a clear representation of this in the James Gross Process Model.
1. Select the Situation
The entire basis of the study is saying that it is more effective to refrain from being in a tempting situation instead of trying the willpower in a tempting situation. To do this you have to remain mindful of every situation you put yourself in.
2. Change the Situation
Once you have taken note of the situation you need to make an action to change it. If you are around a group of people smoking while you’re trying to quit, make other plans to be around non-smokers until you’ve conquered your temptation.
3. Refocus Attention
Keep your attention on the bigger picture. Remember what your overall intent is and why you’re trying to do so. If you can’t change the situation try and focus on something different. Play a little game of I spy with yourself perhaps.
4. Redirect Thoughts
If you are presented with a tempting situation it can be all you think about. In this scenario, you’ll need to redirect your thoughts to another subject. Conjure up an idea to avoid being tempted into something you know isn’t healthy.
5. Use Willpower
At the very minimum, take advantage of your willpower. You are confident in your ability to complete physical tasks, so you should also be confident in your ability to refrain from what you know is bad for you. Keep consequences in mind and if anything else, remove yourself from the tempting situation as soon as you can.