Get Good at Self-Control

by Rachel Miller

January 21, 2022

ABOVE :Jeff Siepman

When you have a strong desire towards something that you don’t want to want—perhaps it stands in the way of your goal, but you can’t stop thinking about it—consider it a game and employ strategy. How can you succeed with as little strain as possible?

Consider:

  • Recognize the familiar pattern you experience whenever you have a hankering for something: desire comes, goes, and it passes. It always, always passes. In 15 minutes or so, something else will take it’s place. You will want something different just the same as you do now. Get curious! What will it be? Why don’t you wait to find out?

  • Think of it not so much about resisting or strenuously avoiding this thing, but casually distracting and preoccupying yourself with something else until the desire wanes. You’re not saying “no,” but acknowledging the request—the want—and continuing on in your present engagement before responding. If you still find the desire remains, consider:
    • How strong?
    • Is there anything else that I want, as well? Which I do ultimately want? Which will provide the greatest reward?
    • It’s not about denying the desire, but actively choosing another desire to take it’s place.

  • Get comfortable with the experience of wanting. You will always want something. Choose the desire you want! Choose the desire that will satisfy you now and tomorrow. Consider it like a game. Play around, trying out new desires, examining different responses. When you experiment playfully it can be kind of fun!

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