My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is Temptation.
Once I was aware of this week’s topic and started to think about it I realized just how often I say the phrase, “I’m tempted to ______” to express how I might want to do something that a part of me feels like I shouldn’t do or that I have reservations about. I said to a friend last week that I was tempted to post a link on a mutual friend’s Facebook that was a counter-argument or at least a different kind of response to something that person had posted recently. I didn’t, at least not yet. I had reservations about it because I didn’t want that to come across as a slam or to be offensive. Later in the week after a certain frustration at one of the airports we were at I said I was tempted to write a letter of complaint. The letter of complaint was totally justified, but at the same time there was some blame on my part so I was hesitant to file a gripe. Similarly, but about something much less important — I won this cute Vera Bradley wallet at bunco this week and said to someone later: “I’m tempted to go get the matching purse.” I don’t need the matching purse, but they would look cute together and it would be fun to have the set, thus the temptation aspect — something I don’t need and have good reasons not to do/get but that’s appealing and alluring and “tempting.”
But what I realized in these situations is when saying to someone “I’m tempted to _____” I was unintentionally and subconsciously looking for their validation, for permission even. If I say “I’m tempted to get the matching purse” and my friend says “Oh, you totally should” then it no longer seems like a “bad” thing. Their approval is reason to give in, or better yet reason not to view getting the purse (or filing the complaint, or the posting the link) as anything bad or tempting at all. If someone agrees with me then it must be a good thing; in short, justification.
I say this a lot, it turns out, and I had no just idea how much until rethinking the idea of temptation. Now that I’m aware of it I’m hyperaware — I’ve said it twice today alone, not to mention the other examples mentioned above from the last few days. It’s interesting to me to know how much I say that and to think about what that potentially indicates about my need for affirmation and agreement. Some of the things I say I’m “tempted” to do aren’t really bad at all, but positioning them in that way is one way of seeking validation before doing them. That’s eye-opening. I already knew that I was the type to be hungry for approval and affirmation but I think I don’t really get how intrinsic that was that I had this sneaky way of getting it — so sneaky even that I wasn’t even aware of it!
Uh, the end.