I find that trying to quit any bad habit or change your behavior is in many ways like quitting an addiction. With that in mind, I think the following tips for someone trying to quit an addiction can be helpful for anyone trying to change a pattern of behavior that that are addicted to, such as fear-avoidance behaviors or anger-outburst behaviors. Imagine any behavior or habit you’d like to change (such as snapping at others or procrastinating) as an “urge” and see if the following applies:

1- Urges are common. They are not a sign of failure. They can be used to identify ‘high-risk’ situations. (meaning a situation where you are likely to engage in that habitual behavior)


2-You win every time you defeat an urge by not giving in. Urges only get stronger if you give in to them and feed them. An urge will eventually weaken and die if you do not feed it.


3- Learn to recognize triggers – people, places, feelings…etc.


4- Ways of coping with an urge:

-Get involved in a distracting activity

-Talk to someone who will support you

-Urge surf, i.e. ride the emotion wave (as mentioned in previous chapter)

-Promise yourself you will wait 15 minutes and not react before then, it

is likely the urge will pass by then

-Challenge and change your thinking that you can’t fight the urge

-remember past successes

-just because it is difficult does not mean you must give in

-you can feel the urge and choose not to act on it

-do not use the difficulty as an excuse to give in

-imagine how proud you are when you don’t give in [i]


* * * *


“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”


[i] This sheet was based on publications from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health. Kadden, Ronald. (Ed.) (1994) Cognitive-behavioral coping skills therapy manual: A clinical research guide for therapists treating individuals with alcohol abuse and dependence [Electronic version]. Collingdale, PA: Diane Publishing Company. Retrieved August 2, 2007, from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/MATCHSeries3/core.htm

[ii] From the song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (1980)


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