Smoking and Other Killer Habits

PET-brain-scans-showing-differences-in-the-brMany self-soothe in self-defeating ways – smoking, drinking, overusing prescriptions, overeating, not moving enough. If our brains get addicted, it’s difficult to stop.

By far, quitting smoking was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And so, I’ve helped test new ways to help people quit, as a clinical supervisor on Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center studies.

Most people don’t realize that it’s less about ‘willpower’ and more about being ‘ready enough’ to change. We can do ourselves more harm, if we try to change a habit and we’re not mostly ready.  Many times, when we fail, we get disappointed and lose confidence … and stop trying.

That’s the learned helplessness vicious cycle. Fortunately,  there are proven treatments to increase readiness – motivational skills – as well as to stick with it over the long term- relapse prevention skillsTo change ANY habit, it’s essential to learn how to manage the conditions that trigger our own specific vicious cycles. And then, structure our environment to be MUCH more supportive of new, more ‘virtuous’ cycles.

It’s not rocket-science! Anyone can learn these skills … and be much better prepared to change. Those who seem to have more ‘willpower’ are probably using these skills – without knowing it.

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