Many of us, okay maybe all of us, have difficulty from time to time with behaviors, habits or addictions we’d like to change.
Questions: How do we make those adjustments? How can I change my thoughts and behaviors to be more in line with the way I would like to act, talk, feel?
If I said to you, “Whatever you do, don’t think about a tiger.” What is the first thing that came to mind? Likely an image of a tiger came into your mind. The truth is, we get more of what we are focused on.
If I’m trying to lose weight, and I’m constantly thinking about not eating cake, I’m focusing on what I don’t want. Ironically by focusing on not eating cake, I am spending a lot of time thinking about cake. Therefore, I’m more likely to eat cake.
This may seem an obvious point, yet with addictions and more difficult habits, the same principles apply. For example, we may focus on not drinking, taking pills, or watching porn. However, focusing on not engaging in the distressful behaviors may lead us into the very actions we are attempting to resist.
On the other hand, by creating a list of healthier options, coping strategies, and developing distress tolerance techniques, we can create new habits and behaviors. Instead of tending to the willpower of not taking the pill, you turn your attention and become absorbed in taking a 20-minute walk. After the walk, you plan a trip to the Farmers Market with a friend, followed by eating a salad with the vegetables you purchased. Having a plan of healthy options, distractions, including people you enjoy spending time with can lead to creating new habits.
If we take away something that has been helping us cope with life, we must replace it with healthier choices. Otherwise, we also run the risk of replacing our former addiction with a new addiction.
In addition, most people find making positive choices lead to a more positive attitude. By focusing on what we want, we become far more likely to make the changes we seek.
If you would like more information or desire professional assistance with overcoming addiction or simply reaching your life goals, please reach out to GROW Counseling.
Written by: Allison Wray