Desperately Seeking Replacement Behaviors

Deleted this one since I spent too much time playing it. Distraction or addiction? Maybe both.

There’s this concept in ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) which states that you can’t get rid of a behavior until you find the function of the behavior and then replace it with something more, shall we say, desirable.

When you want to quit a bad habit you can’t just quit cold turkey. Smart people on the Internet have done studies that show you have to replace the behavior with a healthier one. See? ABA!

For example, if you bite your nails, you have to replace it with something healthier that mimics the hand-to-mouth action. Like smoking. But smoking is apparently bad, too. So replace it with eating. I hear that isn’t always fatal. Though the weight gain that ensues could be.


When I was young and destructive and did stupid stuff like make myself puke, I didn’t realize what I was doing to my body (which I’m now paying for… THANKS A LOT, YOUNGER SELF!). But when someone finally cared enough to get me to stop and get help (future husband), I couldn’t just stop. I know, right? Who wants to puke? Not me! But I still did.

My therapist suggested I find healthier things to do to replace the behavior. So I started working out. I joined a gym. I got in some pretty fine shape, if I do say so myself. I may have worked out a little too much in the beginning (twice a day, up to four hours a day… I KNOW) but once it became a healthier habit, I was good to go.

Except these days I’m back to biting my nails again. Nervous energy, much?

Probably because I’ve been trying very hard NOT to drink so much tea all day. See? Must replace one behavior with something similar. I replaced nail biting with tea drinking years ago. And now that caffeine is my nemesis I’ve accidentally started nibbling on my nails again.

So I cut them. Then I filed them. Can’t bite them, right? WRONG. I still find a way.


Anywho,  now I need to find something to replace my electronics addiction. I’m thinking my new phone isn’t going to help with that. Or the games involving enraged animals of the avian variety. That I may or may not have downloaded (and not for my kids). Ahem.

About Marj Hatzell

Marj Hatzell climbed Mount Everest, explored the Amazon and swam across the English Channel. Not really, but she's the mother of two kids with special needs so SAME THING. She prefers dogs over people, which means she has STELLAR social skills. Marj isn't a writer but she plays one on tv. Marj also goes to eleven. You can find her at her non-paying day job, the wildly unsuccessful blog The Domestic Goddess, on Twitter, and on Facebook. She also has a not-so-new and definitely-not-successful-and-ignored blog at The Crazy Dog Lady and Facebook page no one visits.


  1. Alysia says:

    If you come up with a replacement behavior, let me know. I’ve tried. But nowhere do I get the love and support that I get with my friends, and I connect with them then FB, texting, and even Song Pop :)

  2. I tend to replace my bad behaviors with equally bad behaviors. Help!

    Twitter Name:


  1. [...] I’m going to start listening to what my instincts are telling me: quit the Web Doctor cray-cray. They never tell you anything good. You won’t [...]

Speak Your Mind