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How To Say No To Temptation

By Debbie Mandel

Temptation peaks during the holidays. It is as though the shorter, darker, colder days set up a stress craving to alleviate the absence of spring and summer. Consequently, you cant just naively approach the holidays believing its a wonderful life; you have to devise a plan and train to jump over the metaphoric hurdles.

Impulses pulsate over the holidays and the media, music, olfactory and visual cues are aimed directly at you. Learning how to control your impulses over the holidays could be the best skillset you ever learn!

Here are 6 strategies to deal with temptation:
  1. Practice patience in little the things to develop self-control. So, if the mailman arrives with a letter you have been waiting for, continue what you are doing and open it later! Can you exert some self-control here? Master this trivial action, and you will master more impulses. Build up the reflex.
  2. Major religions which have survived thousands of years advise you to avoid temptation. Simply walk on by. If you are on a diet, you are not going to frequent a delicious French pastry shop. If you are in debt, you are not going to check out Bloomingdales - right?
  3. Learn the power of no which means instead of people-pleasing, you say, I dont or I wont. However, if you say, I cant, you are wavering and someone will surely take you by the arm and lead you straight to the temptation you wish to avoid. Instead, a non-negotiable, I dont want to, or a simple, no, will empower you. The more you use the word, no, the easier and more natural it sounds.
  4. Minimize the small stressors which accumulate and lure you into temptation. In a more relaxed state you can decline a fatty dessert while in a stressed state you will most likely devour it because in the short term it works to reduce that hole in your heart. Come up with a strategy to calm down like deep, controlled breathing, simply taking a pause to reassess, or go on a brief walk to move the stress out of your body. Pause, assess and adjust. Dont wrestle with your temptation rather try to get along with it.
  5. First, practice learning to control your personal space and then expand your environment of self-control. This means create a quiet study/work space devoid of distraction and stock your refrigerator /pantry with healthy foods. Instead of focusing on dieting, in other words deprivation, make a list of the fruits and vegetables you HAVE to eat along with how many cups of water you will drink and then voila, you are not sabotaging your diet because you are feeling full and most importantly, a sense of well-being.
  6. Create a story about the brutal facts of your temptation and incorporate the awful consequences. Augment the negatives like how that dessert tastes too rich and makes you feel nauseous, or having that affair will hurt so many people in your life. Take the joy out of that temptation!

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com