Psychological Self-Help

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respond to an urge to eat dessert. Instead of saying, "I'll just have a
moderate sized piece of cake," one might say, "OK, you nagging
appetite, so you want goodies! How about half this cake? You have to
eat it all, right now!" (Obviously, not a good idea if you are prone to
13. Challenge defeatist attitudes: If you say, "I've always been
fat, I can't lose weight." Put that idea to a test: try eating less than
usual for one meal, try exercising a little more than ordinary. If
successful, challenge the idea that you are helpless and test your self-
control again the next meal. 
Question your beliefs about eating, drinking or smoking being the
only way to relax or be sociable. The old idea among "recovering"
alcoholics that they are always just "one drink away from being a
drunk" could help you avoid the first drink or smoke or dessert. But
the same saying could become a self-fulfilling prophesy after the first
drink and, thus, cause a binge instead of a slight slip. 
Many of us rationalize our bad behaviors: "Oh, I'd gain weight and
be a blimp, if I stopped smoking." Research has shown that men gain
only 6 pounds and women 8 pounds after stopping smoking.
Furthermore, smokers weigh less to start with, so they end up about
the same as non-smokers after a year of not smoking. There is only a
10% chance of a person quitting smoking gaining 30 pounds, but
obviously this 10% need both a stop smoking and a weight
maintenance program. 
14. Expectations of success: If you think you can't quit smoking
"cold turkey," set a reasonable, even an easy goal of 2 or 3 fewer
cigarettes each day. Some initial success leads to more hopeful
attitudes and to more success. Individuals who create positive mental
pictures of the outcome of their self-help efforts actually change faster
and the improvements last longer (Lazarus, 1984), if they have these
fantasies of success several times a day. For example, a smoker might
imagine being free of the fear of harming his/her health, free of feeling
hooked by a drug, free of social criticism, free of smelly ash trays and
bad breath, free of dead taste buds and stained teeth, and so on.
When these things happen, self-praise can be a powerful reinforcer (#
15. Build intrinsic satisfaction: In self-help projects involving
oral habits, one may become engrossed with self-control and the
satisfaction of sticking to a diet, holding down on the beers or
cigarettes, and so on. Focus your attention on these accomplishments,
take pride in them, they should not go unnoticed. And the result--a
healthy, attractive body--is a source of great and lasting satisfaction
too. In some situations you can find activities to substitute for
consuming something which can become very gratifying, e.g. if you
work, exercise, socialize, do volunteer services, etc. more and
consume less, the pleasure from these other activities can gradually
replace for the pleasure you get from eating, drinking or smoking. 
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