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  • Writer's pictureRowin

Temptation & Bravery

I speak about the notion of different levels of consciousness and thought a lot, and it's fascinating to try and unravel some of the thoughts you already possess somewhere in your mind, hidden from yourself somehow. It can offer some great insight and understanding of things you didn't even realise you didn't think you may not have known. As jumbles and backwards-sounding as that last sentence was, it makes sense to try and find out what you already know. It's a form of thought you can't quite reach, but with enough effort and practice, you may find yourself epihanising at any moment. And that is a good feeling.

Similarly, you have more basic thoughts that are - or at least this is how I visualise it - "below" your consience. The needs and wants of your body. It makes sense; your brain keeps you breathing when you don't think about taking breaths, it keeps your heart beating which you thankfully can't control for your own protection, and it tells you when you're hungry, stressed, hot, cold, in pain, off balance, nauseous and so much more without you having to waste precious mind-energy thinking about it. It's also an impulse-centre, forcing you to satisfy all of the desires you have for small or large amounts of endorphins.

Essentially, your basic brain functions of which you may be unaware are what tell you to grab hold of another packet of cigarettes, eat another cookie, waste countless hours looking at pictures of cats on the internet and stick some more unaffordable heroin into yourself, as well as many more unsustainable, unhealthy habits. Yay.

Realising this may help you, especially if you're stubborn, rid yourself of such habits and impulses. You might think "why am I being told what to do by someone else who doesn't have my best interests at heart?" Your basic thoughts are like a very enabling boyfriend, just telling you to do whatever you want and funding your drug habits and encouraging your overspending on clothes. It just wants you to be happy, but this happiness is a temporary one, and is not the kind which lasts and can engender more happiness and a good life.

If you are stubborn like this, then that is a good thing, because then quitting certain addictions becomes a matter of refusing to be told what to do, rather than trying to give up a craving. You're essentially reframing a bad habit in such a way that you reverse-psychology yourself into quitting whatever it may be. Resisting tempation becomes a match of passive-agression between you and your body, and I'm sure you can win if you try hard enough. You have a conscience and a brain and cleverness, after all, and your body just has a factory prepared for chemical warfare. The hormonal kind of chemicals, not the mustard gas.

Many individuals have reached stages of "enlightenment" in a similar way by reframing the notion of temptation as Satan or some kind of evil, allegorising the cravings we feel, thereby creating an enemy to confront and reducing any craving into a battle between the concept of good versus bad. If you feel that the weight of the virtue of the World is resting upon your shoulders, you might feel less inclined to let them down by giving into that kind of "sin." Not every religious individual has reached this stage of enlightenment, alas.

In any case, picture it however you like, as long as it makes it easier to deny yourself the things you're made to think you want, like the extra snooze in the morning (I keep coming back to this example) or the flirtatious colleague who keeps touching your arm or the crack pipe you have lying on your dresser.

It's important to know that removing all sources of temptation isn't always the best guarantee of your success. Knowing that you can always give in at any moment, but choose to refuse it is a motivational weapon in itself. If you want to give up smoking and keep a pack of fags lying around on the windowsill somewhere, you know that you are in control of yourself, and you can be proud and dignified in denying yourself that kind of ephemeral endorphin release. What matters more: a quick high or a healthier lifestyle? And if you answer that you'd rather just get high, then fuck off out of this blog, because I'm not talking to you. You must learn to really want to help yourself in order to get better and do the things you want to do.

Similarly, there is no bravery in being fearless. It's fairly simple once you think about it; if there is no fear to overcome, then there is no struggle to get past it, and therefore, the whole virtue of bravery is circumvented. Bravery is demonstrated by being fearful, but wanting to do something which that fear prohibits. It means being terrified of something, but mustering up the courage to go forward with it. Like a shy person asking for a crush's phone number, or someone who's incredibly phobic of heights walking up to the top of a lighthouse to look out at the sea.

The ideas of temptation and fear are thereby parallel to an extent, and the virtue lies in facing them, overcoming them and helping your future by denying them their hold over you. They're both impulses and instincts made up by your lower consciousness which don't really serve you well as a more evolved primate than the rest of our simian relatives.

Be in control of yourself, your life and your actions. You know what's best for you, so don't let these instincts trick you into thinking that it's what you want. Be brave and be stoic, and don't give up just because you don't succeed.

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