Habits are those things that we do so frequently and naturally that we do them without thinking. When trying to change a habit, especially terminating a specific action or reaction or changing to a new action or reaction, these unconscious responses can feel out of your control or make you feel like you have an addiction.
When I quit drinking soda, I was not addicted and did not have withdrawals, but it was the first thing I reached for when craving sweet or wanting a boost in the afternoon. Rather than trying to control what has become an unconscious reaction, you may find it easier to control the stimuli that cause that reaction or create new stimuli to create a new reaction.
Are you trying to stop a certain habit or reaction, create a new habit, or replace an old habit with a new one? When trying to stop a specific reaction, it can be helpful to remove those things that might encourage that reaction and introduce new cues that discourage that reaction.
If you want to quit smoking, you don’t want to buy cigarettes and have them available. Posting a picture of yourself at your highest weight on your refrigerator is a common stimulus people use to discourage excess snacking. If you are trying to improve your health by adding flossing to your daily schedule, a post-it note on the bathroom mirror might be the only added stimulus you need until it becomes an unconscious part of your routine. If you want to start eating healthier snacks instead of junk, put the graham crackers on the eye level shelf and the junk food out of site.
February 19th, 2009