Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: 2 Tim. 2:22 recommends “flee from youthful lusts.” The Greek word “flee” caries the connotation of removing yourself from the presence of the temptation. Not surprisingly NYU psychologist Adam Alter points to research that supports this process, sometimes called changing “behavioral architectures” or the “Odysseus protocol” (a reference to the ancient story of Odysseus). “That just means you organize or build your daily routine (and life) in such a way that what’s tempting isn’t accessible anymore” (full citation below).
Will Power Won’t Get You Very Far, Says Psychology (But This Hack Does)
by Wanda Thinodeaux, Inc. Magazine, 3/14/17.
As NYU psychologist Adam Alter tells Business Insider, the idea that will power is a good way to move forward is completely bunk.
Repeated temptation wears you down, mentally and physically
On the American Psychological Association’s yearly Stress in America survey, people regularly point to a lack of will power as the top reason they don’t follow through with changes they want to make–the above view that we’re to blame for our own failure is widespread. But according to Alter, the examples of people exerting self-control over the long term are few and far between. People might do OK for a while, but they get worn down by repeated temptation.
The APA notes that factors like mood, personal beliefs and internal motivation all can be helpful in resisting the urge to give in, buffering you against “will power depletion”. But it also points out that research has shown that, when people are repeatedly tested with temptation, the glucose levels in their brains go down. In other words, will power is as much physical as it is mental. Staying on track takes energy, and when you’re too low on fuel, your risk of falling off the wagon goes up.
Building a surefire route to success
Alter asserts that the best way to resist temptation and stick to a better way is to create new “behavioral architectures”. That just means you organize or build your daily routine (and life) in such a way that what’s tempting isn’t accessible anymore. The distance or lack of logistical access essentially eliminates your vice as a legitimate choice, making it easier for you to stick to new, healthier and productive habits.
“You need to do something like change the environment, make sure the temptation is out of reach so that it’s no longer possible to be tempted,” Alter says.
And Alter isn’t alone in his view. In The Huffington Post, author, speaker and consultant Dr. Ali Binazircalls the putting away of temptations as the “Odysseus protocol”. (This is a reference to the ancient story of Odysseus, who, when still lucid and out of harm’s way, took precautions to ensure he wouldn’t be ensnared and killed by the Sirens.)