How does one control one’s desires?

Fighting desire doesn’t work. It only strengthens it. It’s like trying not to blush. You actually blush less if you accept it. Learn to accept your desires as a natural part of being human. We all have them.

Acceptance helps you to relax. Relaxation is a more resourceful state than the tension of fighting desire.

From this space of relaxation, you can begin to notice the thoughts and feelings that feed this desire. Practice observing these thoughts and feelings dispassionately. The more you do this, the more the mind will quiet down and the feelings will subside. The best way to do this is through mindfulness.

Find a class in mindfulness and learn how to do it. It will take a while to be able to be with the thoughts and feeling without judging them. Be gentle with yourself.

When you have a thought that feeds the desire, substitute an empowering thought for it. This can be anything that is meaningful to you. Notice how this changes your feelings.

For example, if you are craving chocolate cake, replace that thought with how much better you will look and feel when you lose weight. If that seems too remote, alter the image in your head to make it more compelling. Make sure it is in color and in full size. See your new slimmer self in the future. Imagine how you will carry yourself. You may want to add some people in this image to talk about how good you look.

If you are not conscious of an image, hear the voices of others admiring the slimmer you. It is your imagination, make it work for you.

Dedicate yourself to this goal. Tell yourself that you are dedicated to achieving this goal. Notice how this makes you feel. Create a gesture to symbolize your dedication. This gets the tactile sense involved. The more senses you can involve the stronger will be your resolve.

Each time the desire returns, do these practices. Be gentle with yourself. Over time you will develop mastery over desire.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Image labelled for noncommercial reuse.

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