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Why You Shouldn’t Suppress Yourself in Face of Temptations

Why You Shouldn’t Suppress Yourself in Face of Temptations

When that little devil pops up on your shoulder, urging you to give in to your desires, of course your first instinct is to swat him away and do the “right” thing. Right? Well, maybe not. Perhaps giving into your temptations is healthier than ignoring them, in calculated moderation of course.

Society tells us to suppress our urges, but releasing them in a healthy way could be more beneficial.

By suppressing our urges, we are denying ourselves of our true nature. There are a number of reasons why we hold ourselves back; be it social norms, laws or rules, or our own personal inhibitions.

But by letting go and letting ourselves act freely, we are transcending to a new level of self acceptance and empowerment. Furthermore, the more we suppress our urges, the more likely [1] they are to surface in an overwhelming or destructive manner.

With a little bit of compromise, you can give in to your urges, or find healthy alternatives to satisfy them. Depending on the nature of these urges, whether they’re bizarre, quirky, or on some level heinous, you can find a way to appropriately adapt them into your lifestyle.

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In the ancient practice of Ayurveda, denying your urges is a crime against wisdom.

We are taught to suppress our urges during our developmental years, conditioning us to do so throughout the rest of our lives. Wait until after class to use the bathroom, only eat during designated break times; refrain from coughing, sneezing, yawning, farting or burping in public. These are just a few examples of conditioned suppression. Because this is the polite thing to do.

Our bodies experience the sensations [2] to release these urges, because the stimuli in our nervous systems call for it. Denying our body of what it calls for can be a major cause and agitator of disease development. We need to listen to our bodies and honor what they call for. Or it will disrupt the homeostasis, the internal balance of the body and mind.

Just as our nervous systems stimulate us to release these natural urges, our desires and imaginations stimulate us as well; requiring us to act or react in a certain manner in order to find balance.

By nurturing your urges as they arise, you may be avoiding a huge conflict down the line.

Although at times suppression may be necessary; as in an instance where you need to ignore negative feelings in order to overcome an obstacle, or you’re in a situation where acting on your desires just would not be appropriate. Expression is really also equally as vital for your well- being.

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Just as we are conditioned to suppress our natural urges, we are taught to suppress our emotional urges as well. The helpful aspect of this practice is not allowing the emotions to take on a roll of their own by always keeping them in check. But at the same time you are denying yourself the benefits that come with the coping process and allowing yourself to heal.

Various scientific studies have shown that suppression can lead to high levels of stress and relapse.

In a case study [3] orchestrated by scientists Brett J. Peters, Nikola C. Overall, and Jeremy P. Jameison, it had been concluded that the suppression of urges had very negative psychological effects on both the subjects and their partners. In extreme cases, the data shows that suppression can be linked to extreme stress, memory impairment and psychopathology.

When the subject is instructed to suppress their reactions and feelings, it makes their partners uncomfortable because they cannot assess their moods or intentions. In turn, this takes a very negative toll on the relationships.

Another case study [4] carried out by James A.K. Erskine, George J. Georgiou, and Lia Kvavilashvili, a group of individuals who smoke were split into two groups during a 3 week period.

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During this time, half of the group was asked to mentally suppress their urges to smoke. During the second week when they were no longer required to suppress, the controlled group smoked more cigarettes than those who were not asked to suppress. These people also had much higher stress levels than those not asked to suppress.

In conclusion, the individuals who were asked to suppress experiences high levels of stress, and were more inclined to indulge in the activity they attempted to suppress than those who were not asked to do so. Basically, if you deny yourself something, you’re going to want it more.

Don’t suppress, express! Use these methods to indulge in your urges in a healthy manner.

To Compromise

Now before you lower all of your inhibitions and let that freak flag fly, just consider the nature of your urges. If they are at all harmful, you need to find a different outlet for that release.

Let’s say you have the urge to punch someone in the face. Well, you can’t really do that and it will probably pan out very negatively for you. Instead, take a kickboxing class. Punch a bunch of punching bags, it’s what they’re there for. Or perhaps you’re trying to quit smoking. Vaping is an excellent alternative. Or you could also keep a stash of healthy snacks on hand to satisfy your oral fixation.

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To Plan Ahead 

If you know that your urge is going to become overwhelming at some point, make a game plan.

Let’s say that you have strong sexual urges that can sometimes be destructive. If you find yourself in a situation where you can predict a regrettable morning after, acquire a suitable wing-man (or woman) who will keep you entertained and ensure that you go home alone.

Planning ahead and having a substitute for the unhealthy urge will help to disconnect the thought process between the urge and giving in to the temptation.

To Analyze Appropriateness 

Gauge your surroundings. If it’s an appropriate environment to exercise your urges, then have it. Sexual urges? They have clubs for that. Violent urges? Join a gym. Cross-dressing urges? Book a gig at a drag bar. Feel like busting out a dance number as if your life is a musical? Well as long as you don’t hit anyone while you flail about you can do that just about anywhere.

Just ensure that by indulging in your desires, you aren’t harming anyone else.

Reference

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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