Avoid Giving Into Temptation By Listing Your Impulses

For most of us, temptation is something we often give into and frequently fight against. If you refocus that temptation, however, you may be able to use it as a positive reminder of your goals rather than an actual problem. Art Markman, writing for Psychology Today, points to a a study that suggests that planning for your temptations made them far easier to resist. Here’s how it worked:

Photo by Mathom (Shutterstock).

To test this possibility, women were recruited to participate in a study of healthy eating habits. At the start of the study, the women were asked to name an unhealthy snack food that is tempting for them. The researchers measured whether the women were interested in dieting, and also whether they were successful at dieting. Half of the women were also asked to form a specific implementation intention: if they encountered their tempting food they would stick to their diet. This group repeated the implementation intention a few times. The other half did not form a specific implementation intention.

The women who formed an implementation intention — meaning they figured out which foods would be a challenge to resist during their diet — were more successful. Simply figuring out what they expected to be a problem made encountering those foods serve as a reminder of their goals rather than a temptation requiring resistance. Next time you’re trying to change your diet, or anything, for the better, figure out what will tempt you in advance. Discovering those things may make meeting your goals a lot easier.

Harness the Power of Temptation [Psychology Today]

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