Which is more powerful? Your addiction or your willpower?

That is a contest that addicts constantly try to win. It is always about their willpower over their addiction. And they seldom ever win. Addicts ought to stop thinking in such “black and white” terms. Instead of meeting force with force, let’s take a lesson from the playbooks of Aikido, the Japanese art of tossing big people around with little to no force.

In Aikido, the Aikidoist learns to multiply the attacker’s force by adding the Aikidoist’s force to that of the attacker’s. Just when the attacker least expects it, the Aikidoist steps out of the direct line of force and adds a little push here and there and sends 250 and 300 pound attackers flying through the air like kites riding an updraft. The Aikidoist demonstrates that force need not be met with direct force, but that redirection is as powerful or even more so.

Addicts can learn that lesson and apply it to their confrontations with their addictions. Instead of going head to head, willpower verses willpower, they can simply pick up a distraction. Go for a walk outside. Head to the movie theater. Go visit a friend. Take a bicycle ride. Play with the kids outside. Go for a drive while listening to favorite music. Go into the garage to work on a hobby. Go to the gym for a workout. Go to bed very early.

The addict must do everything possible to distract him-, or herself with anything that will prevent his or her mind from dwelling on the desire to indulge in the addiction.

A message and ancient secret to be shared with addicts: Don’t fight it. Instead, learn the art of redirection and distraction.