Certain controlling responses can be used immediately, such as
buying only nutritional foods or learning new jokes. A particular
stimulus only becomes controlling with time; it may take several days
or a few weeks to condition effective study to the study chair or worry
to the worry chair. In the case of studying, remember, no TV, only soft
music, no talking, no daydreaming, no writing love letters, no reading
Playgirl or Playboy, just concentrating on your work in the "study"
chair. The same is true in the case of worry, only worry in the
designated chair, later you can start decreasing the time in the chair
(or move it to the basement) but only after the specific worry is
conditioned to and limited to a specific chair. Otherwise, you would
worry just as much, but somewhere else.
Likewise, the timer, once it has become the conditioned stimulus
for smoking, can be set for longer and longer intervals between
cigarettes. In a similar way, the timer could become the stimulus for a
procrastinator to begin working for a fixed period of time, say 30
minutes, without interruptions. At the end of each work period, decide
to stop or to complete another 30 minute block. Use thought stopping
(see method #10) to keep distractions away.
In the example of learning to be more optimistic and trusting of
others (or more self-confident or self-accepting or whatever), one may
need to repeat the positive statements several times a day for several
weeks (with every sip of everything you drink). Say the positive
statements "with feeling" and with an earnest intention to change your
own feelings. Soon you will be feeling better about people (see chapter
Record and reward progress.
Making sure you only study or work or worry or cry in one place
may not take much time; it might save time. However, establishing a
conditioned stimulus-response relationship so strong that one can
reduce an unwanted reaction by controlling the stimulus will take
frequent attention to details over several days or, more likely, weeks.
Also, remembering to pair desired thoughts or attitudes with
frequently occurring stimuli, takes constant attention to the details of
what is going on in your mind. Total=2 or 3 hours spread over several
weeks. Yet, considering the enormous time wasted by some of the
unwanted behaviors, the methods are a bargain.
Common problems with the method