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Posted on Tue, 06 March, 2012

According to Oscar Wilde, the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

In today’s world of 12 steps and ever increasing codependency, that seems awfully dangerous.  Temptation is a sign of the devil according to many faiths, and yet other cultures look upon it as part of the normal variance of humanity – the concept of ying yang. In it’s simplest definition, temptation refers to anything that is appealing to someone, and usually carries a negative consequence and therefore regret.  It also refers to the coaxing of a person to commit the temptuous act, manipulating the fear of loss without it.

Temptation exits all around us in an increasing number of forms; the obvious heavy hitters like alcohol, illicit drugs, gambling or shoplifting.  Less attention is paid to food, shopping, sex and nearly anything else that is related to addiction.  Yes, you can be addicted to or abuse almost anything, including sex, power, attention, fame, money and food.  True, many of these themes are inter-related, in that you would not have addictions to money or sex without the primary need for power and attention so it becomes important to look at root causes or core pain when dealing with their manifestations.

In my practice I see the results of temptation inside each client hour, and we see it rampant in the media with badly behaving celebrities or politicians, many of whom I continue to address in this blog each week.

Take Rush Limbaugh for instance, the most recent political pundit to embarrass himself publicly for ill chosen words and a narrow mindset. He has recently issued an apology for calling Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute for promoting birth control coverage under insurance.  However you feel about her dismissing his apology, you can’t ignore that he has spoken out of turn before, to put nicely, and is a member of a long list of fairly stupid yet well educated people who continue to speak impulsively and without consideration.  OK, I’ll admit, one of my favorite sayings is the bumper sticker well behaved women rarely make history, so I recognize that political correctness on the other extreme is equally disruptive – not to mention irritating.  It’s a kindergarten rule here people – think before you act.

I think Rush is aptly named, he does rush to speak, and he speaks usually from a position of power.  I believe this is the root of his narcissistic vomitting on the air – the temptation for power and the feel of importance lures him to marginalize others so that he can feel better about himself.  Another word for this is insecurity.

Lest you say, from where dost thou speak, blogger! I freely admit I yield to temptation more than I should: primarily sugar, but have others I would be embarrassed to reveal publicly.  It’s difficult to navigate those mazes of reinforcement when the object of temptation has been so good to you; intoxicating to some. I have been very fortunate not to have very bad consequences for my indiscretions, and am thankful for that – looking deeply into why I engaged in those behaviors hoping to learn from it.  Everyone has engaged in something they shouldn’t – it is our way as human beings.  I fear we never would have lasted very long in the garden of eden even without the serpent.

Although temptation is a devil, it is one we will have to make peace with as it will be our constant companion.  Perhaps we can begin to dialogue with ourselves about the reasons someone may have engaged in something stupid, costly or self-destructive and practice more understanding and less judging.  I know someone who isn’t Rush-ing to do that!

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A blog written by a hip, sometimes irreverent shrink who’s been around the block and calls it like it is

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