There’s such a thing as situational temptation. It’s easy to shrug off a challenge when it doesn’t test you or touch your core. But once something meets a deep need, it will stop you in your tracks and confound you.

It’s a function of context and availability. For instance, I always assumed I would never date a married man. The sanctity of marriage was ingrained in me as a Christian child. So, I figured I would never question it. Little did I know that it was because there were more single folks around me in my 20s. I was also oblivious to how much my mentor protected me from the lecherous advances of our married clients. Apparently mature men know these things and are able to subtly intervene.

As I grew older, I began meeting many married men directly. Due to the nature of my job, I was typically the lone female at the table. And so, I started coming face-to-face with stages of married – separated and divorcing – as these guys would ask me out. There were too many shades of grey. And, I am sapiosexual. I respond to minds, not marital statuses. So, instead of burying my head in the sand and forming strong, I took a practical approach. I acknowledged the temptations around me and consciously decided to put my values first. It’s work-in-progress and not a one-off declaration. It’s very complex and has not been tidy. 

I deal with temptation every day, for life has a way of introducing me to new paradigms. For instance, when you have a child, you are finally inducted into the circle of other mothers. There are people you now start meeting during school runs or at PTA Meetings. Here’s another example. When you start traveling, you finally uncover the lure and anonymity of the global sex industry. The temptations at home seem tame compared to what’s out there.

Beyond availability, your temptation is really about meeting customized needs. When your soul has spent years looking for something and you finally find it, it’s difficult to let it go because of morality. You will rationalize away your objections. Resistance is futile, like the Borg in Star Trek would say.

That’s why emotional strength is key. It’s hard to say no to the fulfillment of a need when you’re tired and defeated. When you just want comfort and escape.

You see, many make life mistakes when there’s a problem at their core. Sometimes it’s weariness. Other times it’s hubris; a feeling of infallibility that leaves you exposed. Pride goeth before a fall.

So, how do you build emotional strength? Find what feeds you and regularly indulge. For me, it’s brilliant books, long walks and intelligent conversations. Stop trying to cope with your need. Chinning your way through life won’t take it away. It will eventually humble you. So build internal fortitude for the day you need it.

Sometimes, you may need a specialized group with shared experiences to support you. I like what some churches are doing – setting up interest-based small groups outside the four walls of the church. It’s a great effort, for what I face as a female 40-something-year-old executive, for instance, can only be felt by others in my shoes. My support system has to be specialized if I am to find emotional nourishment. In the same way, celebrities need their own mini-tribes bound by extreme confidentiality. 

I recall an episode of The West Wing. Leo McGarry, a recovering alcoholic, was the President’s Chief of Staff. Now, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are essential to someone like that. It’s the de facto lifeline and accountability group for those in recovery. But, because of his status, he couldn’t walk into a regular meeting. Thankfully, the Vice President noticed his struggles and invited him to a “high stakes poker game” for the political elite. Apparently, it was a coded AA meeting for the rich and powerful. They could meet in the company of those who needed a degree of discretion. 

That episode left an indelible impression on me. Tribes are essential to doing life and if you can’t find one, perhaps you’re the person to start it and invite others just like you.

For more, please read Manage your Fears.

Emotional strength is key. It's hard to say no to the fulfillment of a need when you're tired and defeated. When you just want comfort and escape. Click To Tweet

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