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Curbing a Compulsive Behavior: A Primer


By Leo Babauta

The habits we simply can’t appear to stop will be very difficult — not solely are they onerous to alter, they’ll have unfavorable results on our lives, and make us really feel dangerous about ourselves.

On this submit, I’d like to speak about a number of issues I’ve discovered useful to curb a compulsive behavior.

I ought to make it clear that I’m not speaking about full-on addictions, which I’m not certified to assist with, however issues that really feel compulsive. Procuring, social media, porn, smoking, consuming cookies, biting your nails. A few of these will be taken to a stage of full-on addictions, however principally their at a decrease stage which might be simply actually onerous to cease.

This isn’t a full information on this matter, however some necessary concepts to play with.

Why We Have Compulsive Habits

We’re not idiots — we don’t do unhelpful issues with the intent to hurt ourselves, for essentially the most half. We do them as a result of the unhelpful behavior is assembly some want.

The necessity could be one thing like:

  • I’m bored and need a dopamine hit
  • I really feel dangerous about myself and wish to do one thing pleasurable to take my thoughts off it
  • I really feel awkward in social conditions and want a distraction
  • I’m pressured and want a coping mechanism

You’ll be able to see that these causes are normally dealing with one thing uncomfortable or hectic.

That is necessary to know, as a result of should you simply cease doing the compulsive behavior, you’ve gotten eliminated your coping mechanism with out discovering one other option to meet your want.

What are you able to do to switch the compulsive behavior, in an effort to nonetheless meet your want? For quitting smoking, I attempted meditation, working, pushups, journaling, massaging my shoulders, respiration, speaking to individuals. You may strive these or different concepts and see what helps you.

Take away Judgment, Add Compassion

We’re normally fairly judgmental about our compulsive habits. It’s part of ourselves that we hate, or a affirmation that we’re one way or the other dangerous or insufficient.

This type of harsh judgment is a protection mechanism meant to assist us get higher. If we’re harsh on ourselves for “dangerous” habits, perhaps we’ll get our act so as, proper? Nicely, there’s mountains of analysis that exhibits this doesn’t work. Beating ourselves up solely makes us crave our compulsive coping mechanisms, as a result of now we really feel dangerous about ourselves and are wired.

What I’ve discovered to work much better is compassion for myself. I’m pressured about all this, why not give myself some compassion, simply as I might a cherished one? Why not assume I’m worthy of this sort of kindness and love, and assist myself via the stress?

Compassion is a wholesome coping mechanism for stress, give it a strive.

Persistent, Affected person Dedication

Ask your self should you actually wish to commit your self totally to this. Sleep on it, and ask your self once more, earlier than you half commit. Do you actually wish to change this behavior? It is going to include issue, falling in your face, and a brand new method of seeing your self. Is that this one thing you need?

If the reply is completely sure … then commit your self totally. Be all in. Set a Stop Date for 3 days from now.

Inform others about your dedication and ask them to carry you accountable. Promise to report back to them on daily basis or each week. Be as dedicated to this as you’ve been to something in your life — your marriage, your children, your job, your finest buddy.

Then take the actions beneath.

Change Your Setting

In your Stop Date, take motion to chop off easy accessibility to your compulsive behavior — throw out the cigarettes or cookies, have a buddy change the password to your favourite procuring websites, use a web site blocker that you just don’t have the power to alter, delete the apps out of your cellphone.

Change your setting, so that you just aren’t prone to do the previous behavior. Ask individuals who reside and work with you to carry you accountable. I’ve informed my children they’ll smack me in the event that they see me eat cookies, and so they gleefully agree! I’ve requested individuals to cover the router till I end writing a guide chapter. I’ve gone to a espresso store to put in writing a guide and informed my household I wouldn’t come residence till it’s carried out.

Making it onerous to do the previous compulsive behavior is named “Making a Moat.” Don’t let your future self, at a second of weak spot, have a straightforward time of falling again into the previous behavior. Make it simpler to stay to the brand new behavior, even when it’s not particularly simple.

Don’t Do It Alone

After we search to alter a behavior that we expect is embarrassing, we normally attempt to do it in non-public, so nobody can see our shamefulness. This can be a mistake. Doing it alone could be very, very onerous, and it additionally reinforces the concept we’re doing one thing shameful, and that we needs to be doing this on our personal.

It’s stronger to do it with the assistance of others. Utilizing different individuals’s help is only a extra strong strategy.

Ask somebody to be your accountability buddy, and promise to name them in case you are feeling the urge to return to your compulsive behavior. Be a part of a web based discussion board (my Fearless Residing Academy is an effective alternative!), and make a dedication to the individuals there. Or discover a help group.

You don’t have to do that alone, nor must you. Do it with others who’re on an identical journey, or who wish to help you. You’ll have somebody to encourage you if you’re not feeling robust sufficient.

Apply Consciousness & the Highly effective Pause

When the compulsion to do the previous behavior occurs, should you’re not conscious of the urge, you’re prone to obey it with out questioning it. It’s an crucial, with out consciousness.

The bottom line is to develop consciousness of the urge, in an effort to discover it and never consider it as an crucial, however reasonably only a sensation within the physique, and maybe a thought (“Only one time is OK!”). With this sort of consciousness, you now have a alternative, and might query whether or not that is what you actually need.

The observe of that is to introduce a Highly effective Pause earlier than you comply with the urge. In case you’re about to succeed in for the cookies, go on Amazon to buy, or open your favourite social media apps … discover that you just’re about to do this motion, and pause. Only for a number of moments.

This Highly effective Pause now permits you to carry consciousness to the motion you had been about to take, and the urge that’s in your physique to take that motion. What does the urge really feel like? Are you able to relaxation your consideration on it for 10 seconds? Are you able to discover the stress or discomfort that’s making you wish to deal with it utilizing your previous behavior? Are you able to take into account whether or not there’s one other motion that might allow you to deal with this in a more healthy method?

That’s the Highly effective Pause. Apply it meticulously.

Don’t Cease

This can be a means of retraining the thoughts, and it takes time. You’ll relapse, falter, fall in your face. That’s how the method goes. In case you suppose you’re doing it improper, simply maintain going. Don’t cease.

The true magic occurs if you fall in your face after which maintain going. That is the true coaching. It’s if you’re within the mud and wish to hand over, however then you definately persist. It’s if you gave in to the cravings as soon as extra and are judging your self, and then you definately breathe and check out once more.

Don’t cease. You bought this.


Victoria Joy
I am an independent lady, working hard to share my ideas from my experiences to the whole world. I want people to be happier and to understand that your life is very very important. Walk with me and experience the beauty this world can offer by following simple logical steps.


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