Temptations need not always be resisted. There is a great pleasure in yielding to temptations and we don't always have to feel guilty about it. What is life without pleasures?
But there are times when we wish to resist temptations for long term benefits, like health, more savings, better utilization of time, honouring a relationship etc. We don't want to eat Junk food, Sugary drinks to take care of our health, we don't want to spend on an unwanted luxury because we want to save money, we don't want to get into the tempting relationship as it might harm our existing ones, we don't want to see too much to TV as it is eating into our time and so on.
We often gamble on our willpower to do the trick and we often fail, then blame ourselves and feel endlessly guilty and think we do not have the strength of character and so on. Is it a good idea to rely on our 'mind power' to resist temptations or, are there safer better alternatives that guarantee our success against temptations?
The Story of the Sirens
In the book Ulysses by James Joyce, the hero, Ulysses and his crew have to sail past an island where there are Sirens. The singing of Sirens is so beautiful that no man can resist them and when the men go near the Sirens, the men are killed and their bones are used to make instruments. Ulysses knows no amount of willpower will work in resisting the Sirens. He has his men stuff their ears with wax, and he himself gets tied up and instructs his men not to release him until they have safely passed the Island of Sirens. When hears their singing, Ulysses struggles to free himself but can't. He listens to the enchanting music but passes the island safely as there was physically no way he could have yielded to the temptations of the Sirens. There is an important bit of Psychology lesson there.
Physical Barrier to Temptations
Look at the thing that is tempting to you and you need to resist it for your own long term good. Don't depend on willpower, don't depend on your goodness, don't depend on your mental magic. For infallible, bullet-proof results depend on putting a physical barrier between you and the temptation. See how you can structure the environment around you so that the object of temptation is not in the range of your senses. Make the path to temptation more difficult. Don't keep the object of temptation (junk food, colas, sweets) in your home. Take a different road which by-passes the Bakery. Leave the Credit Cards at home when you go shopping. Give a list of things you need to the local grocer instead of visiting the Supermarket. When you feel like switching on the TV go out for a walk. Remove the batteries from the Remote and place them on the highest shelf in the house which requires you to climb the stool or ladder to remove it again. When you turn off the Wifi and Mobile Data on the phone, you are disconnected from Whatsapp. Turn off the notification on your mobile phone and Computer from all Social Media. Block the news websites or any other sites you are addicted to. Move physically out of the range of the relationship you don't want.
Not depending on willpower
Creating or restructuring the environment to avoid the temptation gets you better results than depending on your willpower, inner strength etc. The important point is to achieve the result.
“You covet what you see” was the famous line from Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. The definite way not to covet is not to see, not to hear, not to smell, not to feel, then you will definitely not get to taste what you covet.