Oscar Wilde famously wrote, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” But this quote is as profound as it is misunderstood.
People believe that giving in to a temptation is a weakness. And they judge harshly those who can’t resist their unhealthy urges. Yet, they don’t apply the same standard to people obsessed with, say, sports or arts. The difference between these two is thinner than most think.
An obsession either gives or robs you of power. An obsession with something seemingly productive could be just as destructive to your body and soul. A gym junky is often just as unhealthy (or worse) as a couch potato.
What makes the difference is how you relate to your obsession. “Resist it,” continues Oscar Wilde, “and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”
Have you noticed how the harder you resist that cake, the more of it you’ll eat after everybody goes to bed? (Substitute with your vice if cake doesn’t resonate.)
Yielding to a temptation doesn’t mean letting it control your life. Quite the opposite, it means acknowledging the obsession, and either allowing it to pass without resisting, or learning to engage with it in a balanced and unburdened way.