We don’t need anything that we don’t know. A person who’s never heard about money will not seek it. A child that has never seen a phone, won’t ask for one. We only need things- and people- we have experienced. In that same way, we can’t be tempted by anything we haven’t had.
No one likes to be reminded of how much time they spend on their phones. We all know it’s bad and we all know it’s a waste of time and we know we’re not missing anything if we don’t use it for a few hours, or let me dare say, days. But we’re tempted to look at it, because it’s accessible. It’s right there in our pocket or bag, ready to be used. But I’m not writing another post about how much time is wasted on phones. They are part of our lives. End of story.
I’m trying to figure out how to use this knowledge to learn how to resist temptations in general. I can say for myself that I’m really good at making resolutions. Be it on New Years Eve or any other day, I tend to set high challenges that I really think I will be able to achieve. In that moment, I’m composed and strong-willed. Even when the goals I’m setting a really demanding, I feel a certain confidence and a responsibility towards myself to not disappoint myself.
Despite the strength of mind I feel when I set these milestones, I have yet to achieve most of them. And I’m pretty sure that is the case for many people. Because we let ourselves be tempted. Because on some days, the temptations are too strong and too accessible. Because the strength of our mind is neither consistent nor reliable. Obviously- you can train your mind. Just like you can train your body. But just like you can get sick physically even when you’re working out, eating healthily and dressing appropriately, a mind that is well treated can have weak moments too. I have yet to meet someone who’s on 100% mentally 365/365.
These moments, when the temptations become too strong, are the moments during which we have to support and help ourselves. We might not be able to keep up the strength of mind at all times, but we can avert risk. Say you’ve been trying to quit smoking. You wake up in the morning and you’re feeling really confident not to give in to temptation during the day. That’s when you’ll have to remind yourself that you might not be able to keep up these thoughts all day. Don’t pack your cigarettes or throw them away on the way to school, uni, job or whatever your destination might be. During the day, maybe don’t join cigarette breaks, even if you’re convinced you’ll be able to say no if someone offers you a cig. Because chances are you won’t.
We’re not as strong mentally as we think we are. We love to give in to temptations and we love to give ourselves little breaks to indulge in things that’ll ultimately hurt us. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that your mental strength is dependable at all times. Don’t overestimate yourself. Take account of weak moments.
Invent yourself, CK
(I’ve been trying to figure out a way to adjust this strategy to be of use with tempting feelings. Say you’re in the process of trying to get over someone who was special to you. Say you’re thinking you’re not doing so bad. Say you’ve not seen them in a while and you assume you’ll finally be able to cope with seeing them. You expect yourself to resist the temptation of letting old feelings come up again. And then you do see them at some event. And the wall you’ve built in your head-despite all the efforts you’ve put into overcoming this person- is shattered in no time. You realize that the wall might have been fit to repress thoughts, but not feelings. And they flood your head and take with them every piece of progress you had so thoroughly fixed.
Feelings ultimately run the show and ignoring them will only lead to a more painful collapse. Not confronting yourself with a person, to be able to distance yourself mentally unfortunately does not seem to do the trick in the way it does with bad habits. Sorry about the blow…)