In a world where temptation surrounds us, it is difficult to avoid. It often sneaks up on us when we aren’t even looking. I’m not necessarily talking about the big temptations, like stealing or cheating on your spouse. I am talking about the everyday temptations that work their way into our homes and our lives and take up residence there. They cruelly taunt us to ride their slippery slope further and further away from what we know is right. For those who want to kick temptation to the curb, here are five suggestions.
Know your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses, and generally, we know what those weaknesses are. It is a good idea to search yourself, and your heart, and list the areas where you know you can get into trouble if temptation finds you. Be aware of what the temptations are that trigger your bad behavior and be on alert for those triggers when you see them.
Have a plan of action. Knowing your weaknesses is only half the battle. Once you know what your weaknesses are, make a plan of action. In your plan, outline what you are going to do if you are faced with the temptation that brings your bad behavior. If you need to, go over the scenarios in your mind of what you are going to say and do if the temptation comes and commit the plan to memory. Review your plan often to remind yourself that you do not need to worry about the temptation, because you have a plan of action.
For example, when I was trying very hard to lose weight, obviously food was a big temptation. Every meal I committed myself to limiting my portions to only one serving size. I rewarded myself at the end of the day with one piece of chocolate if I made it through without giving in to any other temptation. Many times I was still hungry after I ate a meal, but because I committed myself to a plan, I didn’t back down. The incentive of a piece of chocolate was also a good motivator. It doesn’t hurt to add positive incentives to the plan that reward you for good behavior. That’s what sobriety pins are for. I have now lost 75 pounds, and I am glad I had a plan to help me resist temptation.
Avoid the traps. Too many times, we know what our weaknesses are, but we somehow think that we will be OK and we place ourselves in a situation where that particular temptation is all around us. This is what I like to call a temptation trap. Do not allow yourself to be caught in a temptation trap. If you are an alcoholic, stay out of bars, if you are addicted to pornography, keep your computer in a public place, if you’re on a diet, don’t go to a buffet, if you like a married co-worker, never allow yourself to be alone together. Whatever your particular weakness or challenge is, do not make things more difficult by putting yourself in a situation where temptation for that weakness will without a doubt come a calling. Just don’t do it!
Fill your life with goodness. The world is full of goodness, and the more goodness you surround yourself with, the less temptation will find you. Allow God into your life. Read from good books, including the scriptures, daily, pray often, serve others. The more goodness you add to your life, the greater you will feel the influence of the Lord’s spirit. His spirit will guide you and direct you away from the temptations that would normally destroy you. When the temptations do come, rather than relying on your own strength, you will add God’s strength to your ability to withstand any and all temptations.
Learn to forgive yourself. This is one of the most important suggestions I can give. Often times, we fall into temptation because we do not feel that we are capable of anything different. When we make mistakes, we allow those mistakes to define us. Not only do we blame ourselves, but we label ourselves by our mistakes, sabotaging our own efforts to rid ourselves from our past and making it nearly impossible for us to succeed in a better future. Learn to forgive yourself of your past mistakes and the temptations that overcame you in the past and look brightly into the future with a new hope and a positive outlook. Think positive about yourself, your abilities and about those around you. You are a child of God, just like everyone else. You are loved by God, even when you make mistakes, so remember to love yourself.
There are all kinds of temptations in this world, and everyone has them. The real trick to overcoming temptation is to look it straight in the eye and say, “No, not today, and not ever again.” Fill your life with God’s love and you will find more and more that temptation will no longer be a challenge in your life, for you will be living a life full of goodness.