In chapter 10 Epictetus tells us that whenever we are tempted by something we need to remember that we have the ability within ourselves to resist. If we are tempted by the sight of a beautiful woman or man, we will find the power to say no if we look for it. If we are faced with discomfort we will find the endurance we need if we look for it. Over time Epictetus says we will gain confidence that we can meet every challenge life brings our way.
What we believe about ourselves is important. Do we believe that we need to drink beer or wine to feel okay? Do we believe that after a long days hard work we deserve a drink, or some netflix, or whatever it is we use to self medicate? If so, then when life takes a turn for the worse, how much more will we need these things?
For myself, when I needed to get a handle on my drinking, the only thing that worked was realizing that I didn't have to drink. Really. I didn't have to do it. Now I really wanted to continue drinking four to six drinks every night, but acknowledging that and then realizing that I had the ability to say no really helped me. I don't present this as a cure all, nor do I think it would work for everyone. Certainly if you have a problem with alcohol and you know you cannot quit by yourself then you need to seek professional help.
With that said, I believe many of us don't realize how strong we are, how much ability we have to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right things if we simply stop and look for it.
I am tempted to by a beautiful woman. Do I have to lust after her? No, I don't.
I am tempted to eat another slice of pizza after already having three slices. Do I have to eat it? No, I don't have to eat it.
Instead of simply following the whims of temptation, a moments reflection on what we really want and our innate abilities might be all that is needed to beat temptation. But this process must be practiced, moment by moment for those who wish to pursue the moral life. That is the hard part. But you can do it, you have the ability to endure in this practice if you simply look for it inside yourself.