If you are anything like me at all, then you probably tend to overestimate your ability to say no and display willpower.
It is human nature to want to feel like we are in control, that we can make our own decisions, and that we have the ability to chose the right decision even in the midst of temptation; but, history will usually tell a different story.
If you have ever failed a new year’s resolution, started a new diet just to go a junk food binge a few days later, or promised to stay in touch with your family but failed, then you are just like 100% of every other human being on the planet.
Why do we fail even when we really know what we want?
Of course everything in life is multi-factorial: meaning you can’t just blame one thing for every problem, but 9 times out of 10 people fail due to lack of the proper routine and structure to support them in their goals.
Imagine it’s New Year’s day and you have made a commitment to finally lose that last 15lbs you have been carrying around your midsection for the past couple of years. You researched nutrition and made a diet plan, you signed up at the gym, you created a workout, and you even got a friend who will go to the gym with you…everything seems to be leading you towards success.
Fast forward to March 1st in the same year and you aren’t working out, your diet is just as bad as ever, and your friend isn’t working out with you either.
After all, you made plans, you made commitments, you took action (for a couple of weeks) why didn’t things work out?
People often fail not because their plans are faulty, not because they didn’t try, and not because they didn’t care, but because they didn’t ensure that the structure of their life would support the changes that they desired.
Structure is what supports you when you can’t support yourself; when you don’t feel like doing stuff any longer, or when you get tempted to do the wrong thing: structure is often the only thing that can save you.
If your right hand offends thee, cut it off!
The truth is that most of us will make the wrong decision at least part of the time if we are given the option. If you offer person on a diet a plate of salad or a cheeseburger there is a good chance they will choose the cheeseburger- no matter how healthy they are.
Likewise, if you are placed in a position where you must choose between what feels good and is desirable right now, and what will produce long-term success, then there is a good chance that you will choose the wrong thing too.
It isn’t about willpower or discipline, it isn’t because you are lazy or stupid or a failure, it’s just the way it is. No matter how tough, strong, or disciplined you think you are, everyone has their breaking point…the people who practice making the right choice more often will be able to make the right choice more easily, but even then it can be a challenge.
There is a passage from the bible that I think I will always remember from my bible reading days. “If your right hand offends thee, then cut it off, for it is better that your hand should perish than for your whole body to perish.”
It doesn’t mean you should literally cut your hand off, it just means that people are weak and if you allow your hand to do what it wants and it always produces negative things then you shouldn’t let your hand run free any more.
Take any quiet and timid man and put him in military slacks and have people shoot at him 24 hours per day and chances are he’ll become a fighter.
Take any healthy person and and place them with people who do nothing but each junk food and drink alcohol and they will probably join in before long.
Take a person who loves to read and put them in front of some super interesting action movie and it will be tough for them to read.
Whether we like to admit it or not, many times we aren’t in control; in fact, most times our environment affects us much more than our willpower and discipline can.
That’s why the passage-If your right hand offends thee cut it off- make so much sense. If you know every time you go out with friend you eat junk food, then don’t go out with those friends. If you know everytime you go to the gym some attractive person flirts with you and you are in a relationship, then do to a different gym. If you stay up too late every time you watch TV before bed, then don’t watch TV before bed.
If you keep doing something that isn’t what you want to be doing, then stop putting yourself in the same situations that produce that action.
It is totally insane to think that you can magically do things differently THIS TIME just because you really want it this time.
The truth is that everyone has a breaking point for temptation.
A few years back Tiger Woods came under serious scrutiny for cheating on his beautiful supermodel wife. He didn’t just cheat once, he cheated a lot. And while I certainly don’t agree with cheating I can understand why it happened.
Imagine you are a millionaire; you are the best athlete in your sport, maybe even in all of time. You have huge endorsements, everyone knows your name and face, and you have it all: a beautiful wife, fame, power, success: you are top of the world.
Women start throwing themselves at you, maybe even aggressively trying to get you to notice them…they know you are married but they don’t care, they want you for themselves. Maybe you say no for a while, and you turn the women down, but they keep coming. Everyday beautiful women are offering themselves to you, they are relentless in their pursuit of your attention, they stroke your ego to make you feel good and eventually you slip up one time.
You feel bad and promise not to do it again, but after a while you find yourself in the same throes of temptation, you allow yourself to walk that line between right and wrong and eventually you slip up again and again….eventually you tell yourself it’s ok to do what you are doing, heck at least you care about your wife.
I’m not making excuses for Tiger…the truth is that we always have a choice in what we do. We know when we go out with friends that there will be junk food and alcohol there but we go anyway. We know gossip gets us nowhere but we can’t resists the new tasty details of celebrity affairs. We know Youtube is a black hole that sucks us in when we are trying to study or do work but we click play anyway.
You don’t have to relate to Tiger’s struggle, but you must understand that we all allow temptation to divert us from the right path in our own lives…let he without sin…
A photo posted by @makeyourbestself on
We unconsciously allow ourselves to become victims of the same cycles that produce negative results over and over again.
If you play with fire enough times you will eventually get burned. It doesn’t matter how careful you are or how smart you are, fire will eventually burn you.
So if you don’t want to cheat on your spouse then don’t flirt with strangers or go out to the bar without your spouse. If you don’t want to eat bad food don’t allow yourself to be anywhere where there is bad food or the temptation to have bad food. If you are a recovering alcoholic then don’t go anywhere that alcohol might be present… if your right hand offends thee CUT IT OFF!
because no matter how dedicated and disciplined you are there will eventually come a time where you will give in.
That is why structure and routine is so important, because if you will create a controlled routine for your life that allows you to avoid temptation, then you can more easily pursue the path in life that you know that you really want.
You must be willing to take a look at your life and examine where you often falter, you must examine where you fall short and make the wrong choices and then you must avoid those places and environments at all costs.
You might not feel like you can control yourself, and that is precisely why you NEED to change the situations you allow yourself to enter into.
If you truly want to make a change in your life then stop playing with fire, stop allowing your hand to reach in and feel around for what you want; if you truly want to change you need to change your structure, then and only then can you be free to make the right decisions.
Anticipate your weakness and make decisions in advance that will help you avoid temptation. If your right hand offends thee…
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