How not to get people to ‘kick the habit’

Self-help books are full of advice. Sadly, some of it doesn’t work. Visualising your problems can be one of those ‘Don’t try this at home’ techniques. Visualisation to remove the problem simply doesn’t work in the vast majority of cases. Techniques such as double-think should be used and I’ve written about that in a previous post.
Erskine published an interesting finding in 2007 titled: ‘Resistance can be futile: Investigating Behavioural Rebound’. If the words seem familiar to you it’s probably because you’re a Star Trek fan. “Resistance is futile” was uttered every time the Borg (an alien race) met a species they’d not previously assimilated. This new race was next in line to suffer such a horrible fate. Lovely!
Erskine’s research explored the rebound effect of the mind. Try to forget something and your mind will constantly remind you. In the research dieters were told to forget about eating chocolate. The outcome? The dieters ate more chocolate!
This applies for anyone wanting to ‘kick the habit’. If you tell them (or they tell themselves) to forget about the habit their brain will constantly rebound them to remember the habit and most likely increase the use of it.

What works?
Habit-kicking is tough. Ask anyone who’s given up smoking or addictive shopaholic shopping (that’s as addictive as heroin) to give up their habit and they’ll tell you just how tough it is. There are scientifically proven techniques that work though:
1. Distraction – you need to distract your mind. I would suggest something that’s enjoyable and will require commitment. Distraction, by definition, permits the mind to focus on something else and the cravings for the habit will subside: if only temporarily
2. Double-think – click on the link here for an explanation of what to do
3. Smiling – you smile when you’re happy so to feel happy you need to smile. This is a proprioceptive response. It needs to be a genuine smile so for that you need to read my blog post on feeling happy

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