rather than by watching TV or by joining a support group rather than
merely complaining to relatives about having nothing to do.
To find a better response than the current one and start using
To break an old habit by replacing it with an incompatible new
Obviously, there is a similarity to method #2. This is more a simple
substitution at the time the old response starts. There is a lot of
advanced preparation in method #2.
STEP ONE: Become highly aware of the unwanted habit.
Learn to recognize when the unwanted habit was about to begin.
Watch the habit occurring, note which muscles move and how they
move. Attend to when and under what conditions the habit occurs. Do
this over and over and for a few days keep a record of every time the
habit happens. You need to know the habit well, including its base
STEP TWO: Select a substitute behavior and be prepared to use
Think of a desirable substitute. Make the necessary arrangements
to carry out the new behavior. Example: if you are going to eat celery
instead of a regular meal or jellybeans instead of smoke cigarettes, the
celery must be bought and cut and the jellybeans bought in advance.
To overcome a habit, the new response should be (l) not
distracting to others, (2) able to prevent the old response and ideally
(3) something you can do for 3 minutes while carrying on normal
activities. Examples: feel the change in your pocket instead of the bad
habit of pulling your hair or pressing your foot against the floor instead
of the habit of nervously shaking your leg (see chapter 4). Sometimes
the substitute behavior can't be held for 3 minutes, for instance if one
has an eye blink tic, the new behavior might be gently and discretely
closing the eyelids for only a few seconds.
As with any other well ingrained habit, it is difficult, in the
beginning, to try to satisfy well established needs or behavior patterns
in another way. Even when substitute activities are already organized
and welcoming you to use them, it may be hard to change: it is
considered so hard for alcoholics to go to Alcoholics Anonymous that
many people believe they must "hit bottom" before they are desperate
enough to join AA. Many of the same social needs for camaraderie and
power and acceptance are satisfied in AA or in church as were met in