The Union Path Podcast
"Is Overcoming Temptation the Key To Change?"
Full Episode Transcript:
Creating change is hard. Creating change is challenging. It's hard to change. It's hard to do something different. It's even harder to be something different and typically we only change when the pain of doing what we've been doing is greater than the perceived pain or whatever change we're trying to create. But there's more to it than that. There's a momentum to it, there's habits to it. If the change is a big one, it can be kind of embedded in our identity and our sense of self and the way that we present ourselves, and not only that, but the expectations of those around us, by how those around us, those close to us, expect us to behave. What's quote unquote normal for us, the kind of person we are, what we typically do. Creating change under these circumstances is incredibly difficult.
But, I think one of the fundamental things to think about, or at least one of the fundamental questions to ponder, is if the key to change is overcoming temptation. This may not be universally true, but it's true often enough that I think it's worthy of spending some time pondering, spending some time thinking about Specifically when we're trying to create a change in our life. It seems fundamental that in some point we're going to have to say no, we're going to have to refuse our old ways of doing things, that in order to have the new to say yes to the new on a pretty fundamental level, we have to reach a point where we say no, sometimes make a very firm no towards the old. That's a big part of what deciding to change is. It's not only deciding to be different or deciding to do something different, but it's deciding to not do what we'd previously done. It's deciding to not be what we've previously been. And again, I think this is an interesting thing to ponder, because it can be so easy to think about change only externally or to think about change only as a future, tense idea. Change is what will happen, change is what we will be, but that change is very much influenced by the past, by our momentum, by our habits, by what we've previously done. And so it's important thing to recognize that change is a process, really has these two facets to it the future and the past, and how we interact with both is in the present. It's in how the past informs and shapes and influences our present as well as our vision for the future. What influence over the present that has. And it's really a matter of us deciding which one we align with, which one we ally with the most. Do we choose the past or do we choose the future? Do we choose the change or do we choose to maintain what we've done prior?
The past, because I think we've all experienced a circumstance where we wanted to change something but, for whatever reason, we kept going back. We kept going back to whatever we were doing, even if we knew it was unhealthy for us, even if we knew it was the wrong choice in the moment, we still did it. There was still that temptation there, there was still something we were trying to get, there was still something we believed we could get from whatever we wanted to change. And these circumstances often are a reflection of our insights. If we're not fully committed to a change on the inside, then our outsides are going to be kind of one step forward and one step back. We're not really going to progress, we're not really going to change in the way that we want, because part of us is still trying to maintain that status quo, is still trying to stay the same.
So we can catch ourselves in this kind of paradox, this kind of canceling out behavior of trying to change while trying to stay the same at the same time. And obviously these two ideas are in direct conflict with each other that in order to change, we have to change. If we want to stay the same, then we have to stay the same. But there's no such thing as same change. It's one or the other. We have to decide which one we commit to, Because that's a really important piece right there. What?
are we actually committed to. How committed are we really to this change that we're trying to create? Because a lot of times, especially if fear is involved, we'll try to wait for a change to tell us it's the right thing Before we really commit to it. We'll kind of dip our tippy-toe into it and just try it out and see if it works. But because we're not really fully committed to it, it doesn't really fully commit to us either. We kind of get locked in a bit of a middle state.
We're kind of get locked in this liminal state of being in between the old and the new, the same and the change. And so if it's change that we're trying to create in our life, if we really want to do something different, if we really want to be different and we really want to shift some aspect of our life in a different direction the great change in our life we have to ask ourselves Well, what's our relationship with temptation like? What's our relationship with being tempted? Keep doing the same thing, to keep trying to get the same results, to keep participating in the same relationships, to keep repeating the same behaviors, to keep making the same choices? Because a lot of times, even if we have unhealthy behaviors, there's reasons why we were doing that, sometimes very good reasons. Even if we don't like the behaviors and we don't like the outcomes, at the very least there's a reason why we were doing it. And so when we're trying to create change, it's important to look at the reasons of why we were doing what we were doing in fine, legitimate replacements. But if we were at some sort of negative behavior out of compensation for something else, we're gonna have to figure out another way to fill those needs. But, for example, if we have deep emotional pain and this causes us to overeat, sure, we can take away the food, but that doesn't do anything about the pain, that doesn't do anything about the cause, that doesn't do anything about the reason that we were overeating in the first place. And so creating this change isn't quite as simple as it seems or quite as obvious. And we can look at, the food is the problem, but really the problem is the pain. Really, the problem is whatever is driving us to overeat in the first place. And to be able to spot this not only takes a fair amount of self-awareness, it takes quite a bit of kindness and understanding and nurturing towards ourselves as well.
But it's so easy to castigate ourselves, it's so easy to criticize ourselves, it's so easy to blame ourselves for what we do without ever really looking at well, why are we doing we're doing? Is there a reason? Is there's something? Is there some hole within us, some void within us that this behavior is at least trying to address, trying to feel, trying to ameliorate? And if so, is that really the problem? Is that really what needs attention?
Because if I addressed my pain, then it wouldn't be driven to do whatever that pain is Driving me and motivating me to do, it's kind of like if I'm suffering with an illness. Is it more effective to look at symptoms or to look at the root cause? Yes, my symptoms can make me very uncomfortable, but oftentimes I won't really achieve lasting change. I won't really find a cure Until I endeavor after and actually do something about whatever the root causes, whatever is really going on, whatever is really driving these effects in the first place, and if we find ourselves in patterns where we say we want to change, we say we want to do something different, but we keep finding ourselves not really changing.
When we have the opportunity, we still kind of stick to what we've always done. We end up going back, we end up compromising, we end up kind of selling ourselves out to keep maintaining whatever it is that ultimately we want to change. And it's important to look at our relationship with temptation, with that drive, with that gravity, with that pull towards going back, going back on ourselves, going back over what we say we want, going back over what we want to create ultimately who we want to be. And sometimes these behaviors on the surface can look like sabotage, can look like very obvious attempts to undermine what we actually want. But again, that's only from the service level.
It's often not that simple. Our perspective is often not really looking at our whole selves, at our whole being of what's really going on, what's really driving our behavior in the first place, why we do what we do, what are our reasons really, beyond the superficial, beyond the obvious, why did we start doing whatever we were doing in the first place? And what might we be able to do to affect real change? How might we get at some of these root causes, these basic needs, these basic unmet needs, these voids within ourselves?
Or maybe it could be that we keep giving into temptation because we're scared, because we don't really believe we can have what we want any other way, that maybe we feel we were lucky enough to find at least the possibility of getting what we wanted through a means that we don't actually want to be involved with the things we don't actually want to do. But we're so scared to let that go out of fear that we'll never find it again. It's kind of a difficult choice, a dilemma it seems, of choosing between poison and starvation. But fear a lot of times can be a pretty unreliable narrator. Fear can really be an unreliable source of advice. Fear definitely has its use, it has its purpose. But when fear is given too much power tends to skew our life, tends to bend in, shape the trajectory and the path and the experience of our life into areas we would actually rather not go To do an experience we would rather not live. But this is hard, this is hard to make a stand, this is hard to really commit to something before it's real. It would be so much easier if we could commit to things after we see what will happen, if we could kind of skip to the end of the movie and see that everything turned out great and everything was better. Okay, well then I'll commit to it. But of course, life doesn't work this way. Life is a series of steps that are our best guess on what to do next, the best guess on whatever the right move seems to be, whatever the best next step seems to be with the information that we have available right now. But if we've been struggling with creating change, if we find ourselves locked into patterns or situations or relationships or circumstances that we would really rather change, and it's important to look at our own behavior and ask ourselves, well, what are we choosing? And not only choosing from our behavior, what we do or don't do. But how do we feel on the inside? Are we still trying to get something? Do we still believe the only way to get what we want is through doing things we actually don't want? Are we scared to say no? Are we scared to leave and abandon a situation that we know doesn't actually serve us, because we're frightened that we won't be able to find what we need somewhere else? Or maybe we have the belief installed that we can only get what we want through suffering. We can only earn our keep, we can only earn our value through our own struggle, through our own strain. Life is this bank account of toil and struggle and strain and sacrifice, and we can only get what we want once we've made adequate deposits to these accounts.
If we do believe that, I think it's important to test that theory Even in our own lives. We can ask ourselves well, in the times where I really got what I wanted, where I was really living the life I want, was that 100% directly related to my suffering beforehand? Would it just kind of seem to happen? Even more than that, in the times in my life where I was feeling the best, was I already feeling pretty good? Would I have access to those times of feeling the best already from a place of feeling good? Or conversely, as it ever worked that I felt bad enough for long enough to spontaneously feel good? Does that inverse relationship exist? Can I create the kind of life I want purely through my own suffering? These are pretty leading questions and my answer is pretty obviously and demonstrably no.
In my experience anyway, I tend to get where I am through, where I've been, that there's a relationship that I tend to feel good when I already feel good and I tend to feel bad when I already feel bad, and that, in order to change, in order to flip that switch. I have to choose to feel good. I have to choose to do things that would lead me on the path of feeling good. It's not this inverse route. I'll find my way to the light if I can just dig down into the darkness as deep as I possibly can. No, I ascend through my own ascension. I don't somehow ascend through my own descent to going deeper, through going lower. In fact, all that going deeper and going lower usually accomplishes this more darkness, more of the things I don't want. But as human beings, we're naturally risk averse. We would naturally stick to the path of the known rather than venture off into the unknown. All things being equal, but again at least it's been my experience that's not how change works.
In order to experience change, we have to change and often, especially with bigger changes, we have to change on the inside first. We have to commit on the inside first. We have to believe on the inside first. We have to have faith on the inside first. We have to have confidence on the inside first. First we have to believe in the change that we're trying to create before we can create it. And one of the ways we demonstrate our faith, one of the ways we demonstrate our belief is through refusing to go back, refusing to compromise, refusing to compromise on ourselves, on our vision, on what we want, refuse to go back to the same poisoned well we've gone back to over and over and over again, hoping maybe this time the water will be clean, maybe this time we'll get what we want, maybe if we can arrange ourselves and present ourselves a certain way, if we can approach it a certain way, maybe if we can do a certain thing, this time it will be different.
But of course, we all know what happens the same thing that always happens. Because if we're waiting for the circumstances of our life to change on their own, for waiting for other people to change, for waiting for our relationships to change, if we're waiting for our life to change, often we'll be waiting a really long time. Often we'll be waiting until we decide to change. Often we'll be waiting until that change actually happens inside of us. But we decide to be different, decide to do something different, decide to walk a different path, decide to have a different life, and oftentimes this decision is based in incumbent, on choosing something different, choosing to be different, choosing to do something different, while at the same time refusing to do the things that we don't want to do, no matter how tempting they may seem. We have to decide to make different choices. We have to decide to change our behavior. We have to decide to interact in different ways. We have to decide to include and exclude different things in our life and in the change that we're trying to create.
Often this is the turning point. This is when that change really starts to happen, is when we actually commit to it, when we resist the temptation of the past that we don't want and commit to the future, to the change that we actually do that, no matter how tempting, whatever it is, we believe we might get through circumstances we don't actually want to be involved with. We're the ones that have to say no. We're the ones that have to refuse. We're the ones that have to create and set a boundary, because we're the ones that have to change. We're the ones that have to intentionally decide to do something different. We're the ones that have to intentionally decide to be different, and often this means altering and reconciling our relationship with temptation, with the temptation of trying to get what we want through doing what we don't, Of building the belief that we can get what we want through doing what we want, that we undermine ourselves.
When our desire is split and we're trying to do something we don't want to do to get something that we do, those two forces are in conflict with one another and they set up a negative or negating relationship which just leads us back to zero. This is stagnation Leads us to taking one step forward and then one step back, actually separates us from the change that we really want to create, because we're trying to walk two directions at the same time. We're trying to walk forward and backwards simultaneously, so we just end up standing still, end up in the same place, never really progressing, never really changing, because we're not letting go of the past. We're not letting go of the temptation, the allure, the attraction of the past and fully committing to moving forward To the future, to the change that we actually want to create.
If it is the fear that we're dealing with, that we won't be able to get what we want through any other means, things we don't actually want to participate in, I think it's time to test that theory. I think it's time to try to really commit, to really go for what we actually want, trying to get what we want, using the belief that we can only get what we want through struggle and strain and suffering. With the belief that we can get what we want through doing what we want, that it's not the zero sum game of we can just scoop ourselves out enough. We can get what we want. We can actually do things that nourish us, that energize us, that are what we actually want to be doing, and get what we want at the same time, try to test that theory. Give it a try. Really go for it Actually commit to it. See for yourself, test these ideas the very least are counterproductive, the very least are very uncomfortable and difficult to walk through and see if you have to earn your good through your own suffering and endeavor to see instead if you can earn your good through doing good, through doing things you want, doing things you like, doing things that actually feel good, doing things that make you feel like a good person, like a whole person, like who and what you really are. Of not cutting these back room deals with yourself, where you have to be other than what you want and who you are in order to get what you want. Challenge those assumptions. Give it a try.
Commit to the change that you actually want to create by letting go of the temptation of the past. Have past unhealthy, unhelpful, undesirable circumstances and patterns. Liberate yourself from past behavior by saying no, refusing to compromise, having the personal integrity and dignity to choose yourself. Choose what you really want. Choose to express who and what you really are. Choose to have confidence. Choose to be confident Because you are more committed to the fuller version of yourself than you are to the version of yourself trying to get your needs met through any means necessary. Believe you can have what you want. Believe you can live the life you want and find your way there by letting go of the temptation to relive and recreate and perpetuate the past.