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.