It is not always easy to recognize temptation especially when it is in disguise. Marketing campaigns are especially skilled at manipulating your temptation triggers without you even realizing it. Know your triggers. Know what tempts you. Identify your strengths and admit your weaknesses. From a particular food, to an addiction, to a romantic interest identify the source of your temptation. Admit you are tempted. Own your feelings about it. We all have our triggers to temptation. This is nothing to be ashamed of. To reprogram your response however you must get real with yourself about what your temptation triggers are and if you really want to reprogram them.
Identify the Underlying Cause
What about the trigger is so tempting to you? For example, is it really about the way the food tastes or is it because the food is comforting when you are having a bad day? Is the trigger actually identifying something that is missing in your life, something you want to change or achieve? If so identify what it is and set healthy goals to achieve your desire. Is it something that has simply become a habit? To remove the habit you must commit and find another behaviour to replace the habit with. The brain will not allow you to take something away and leave an empty space. You must provide a replacement behaviour or thought. Identify why you are really tempted and take steps to address it if necessary.
Be Smart, Remove Temptation
If you are trying to resist an addiction or change a habit a good initial step is to remove the object of your desire or at least make it difficult to get to. For example, if you are trying to stop drinking caffeine, remove caffeine products from your refrigerator and cupboards. It is much easier to resist temptation when it is not dangling in front of you like the proverbial carrot. Remember the brain is all about what is happening right now. If the object of your desire is not in your cupboard, the brain will have an easier time moving on to something else.
Ignore Your Brain
Do not listen to the stories your brain is telling you. The brain will create thoughts using exaggeration and fear to get you to take action and submit to temptation. Ask yourself if submitting to temptation right now is really going to be as good as your brain says it is. Sometimes we crave something and we build it up then when we actually experience it, well it turns out not to be all that we imagined it to be. Weigh the benefits of immediate gratification with the long term consequences of submitting to the temptation. Often temptation can involve a perceived short cut to achieving our dreams. Rarely does the short cut deliver the desired results in the long term. Before deciding to succumb to temptations contemplate the reality of the situation. Is it really going to be worth it in the end?
See Yourself Succeeding
Use the tools of visualization and positive affirmations to see yourself succeeding and resisting temptation. Regularly visualize yourself successfully overcoming the addiction, breaking the habit, or working through the obstacle. Make visualization of your success part of your daily routine. Select an affirmation or mantra that you can repeat throughout the day affirming your success. Place post-it notes of your affirmation on your mirrors, next to your bed, on the dash of your car, anywhere you can find as visual reminders of your success in overcoming temptation. Mentally focus on the affirmation repeatedly when you are most tempted. This can help get you through to the next moment without breaking. These techniques when combined with meditation and prayer have proven to be very powerful.
Find a Distraction
Keep busy. Distract your mind with other things. Focus on the positives and the tasks you need to complete throughout your day. Use positive anchors to shift your focus. These include listening to uplifting music, exercise, following a routine, expressing gratitude, and more. Help a friend. When we are being of service to someone else it is more difficult to focus on ourselves. Use technology tools and apps to help organize your day and keep you moving. Enlist the support of friends and family to help keep you active and on the go so you have no time to attend to the temptation.
Accept the Process
Especially if the temptation is also a habit you want to break remember it took time to create the habit and to create those strong behavioural pathways in the brain. It will take time to reprogram your brain to build new pathways and behavioural patterns. Change does not always happen overnight. Be patient. Journal daily and include in your journal ways you are grateful for where you are now, not just for where you are going to be tomorrow. The happier you can be in the present the more quickly your desired future state will materialize. Go back to the beginning of your journal in 3 to 6 months from now. Look back over your entries during that period of time to validate how far you have come. Be proud of your progress no matter how big or small it may seem to you at the time.