Self-help

Needing Medication Doesn’t Make You a Failure

Taking care of yourself is never a failing.

February 27, 2017

How To Stay Happy With Domonique Bertolucci

Looking for a little more guidance in your life? SHESAID has teamed up with author, Domonique Bertolucci, to provide a few tips from her new book, The Kindness Pact. If you can’t get your hands on her novel, head over to Domonique’s official website for free video training on how to break the exhaustion/dissatisfaction cycle once and for all and get rid of that nagging guilty feeling forever.

RELATED: Essential Etiquette Tips From Downton Abbey

Congratulations on the new book! What inspired you to write The Kindness Pact?

Thank you! The first seeds for The Kindness Pact: 8 promises to make you feel good about who you are and the life you live were planted a few years ago when I was walking in the park and observed a scene that left me feeling quite uncomfortable. A young boy of perhaps six or seven had climbed a tree and gone beyond the height he was confident to get back down from and I could hear his mother berating him for his lack of courage: “‘Don’t be so pathetic.’ ‘You really are being stupid.’ ‘What a wimp you’re being.’ ‘You really are useless.’”

It was awful to hear, but at the same time the words this used were the very same words I had heard countless people, both in my professional and personal life, use to berate or belittle their own efforts. You see, most people are terribly unkind to themselves. They make harsh judgements, engage in endless self-criticism and are unforgiving of even the smallest of failings. At the same time these people are often loving and kind parents, generous and encouraging friends, and supportive and committed colleagues.  They give everyone else their best, only to give themselves their worst.

The Kindness Pact is about learning to treat yourself with the same kindness, love and respect you give the other important people in your life.  When you keep the pact, you will build your self-confidence, nurture your self-esteem and have more energy to do what you want to do and be who you want to be.

What are some of the main ways to stay positive in this day and age?

The three best pieces of advice I have for staying positive and feeling happy are to:

  • Be present: Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the moment.  Focus your energy on making today the best day possible and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
  • Express your gratitude: Regardless of what you want or still want to achieve, appreciate all the wealth and abundance already in your life.
  • Be generous: Give willingly and not just with your money. Be with your time and energy too. The more you give the more you receive.

Could you list a few different ways to turn an I can’t into I can?

The three most effective ways to turn an I can’t into an I can are:

  1. Reframe your ideas with logical thought based on facts.  “If I follow a training plan I will build my endurance and be able to run a marathon.”
  2. Reform your thinking with affirmations: positive, present tense, personal statements.  “I have run a marathon and I couldn’t be prouder of myself”
  3. Take action and prove yourself wrong! Start running, feel yourself getting fitter and stronger and realise that your goal is in reach.

How can our readers use these tips to change their outlook in the workplace? 

  • Reframe:  The key to reframing most experiences in the workplace is not to personalise them.

If things aren’t going the way you want them to, don’t be a victim and think, “why is this happening to me?” Instead, acknowledge that it is happening and focus your energy on what you are going to do about it.

  • Reform: Believe in yourself, your abilities and your potential to do well in the workplace.

The more authentically confident you are in the workplace, the better you will be treated and the faster you will progress. People want to work with people they can put their faith in and the fastest way to show them that they can believe in you is to believe in yourself.

  • Take action: Be proactive about your career and the experience you want to have at work.

Seek out mentors and create your own learning agenda based on the path you want your career to follow.  Learn to accept constructive feedback for what it is, feedback about the work you’ve done, not the person you are.

Many people find it difficult to say they’re happy. Why do you think these feelings are hard to vocalise?

A lot of happy people prefer to keep quiet about their happiness. They’re tired of being misunderstood and having people think that by saying “I’m happy,” they mean “my life is perfect” and that they are big-noting themselves in some way.

You see, most people are looking for happiness in all the wrong places. They think they’ll be happy when they’ve done this or got that; a promotion, a pay rise, a partner, a perfect figure, perfect kids, the perfect home. But true happiness is not a state of doing or having, it’s a state of being.  Truly happy people know this and are happy regardless of the size of their house, bank balance or on label of the clothes they wear.

How can readers stay in touch with your tips when they’re constantly on-the-go?

Happiness is a choice, but you can’t just make it once. You can’t say: “Happiness… I think I’ll give that a try next Tuesday.”  You need to choose to be happy every day and then continually and consistently make decisions that support that intention.

Before you go to bed each night, take a minute to express your gratitude for today and set your intention for tomorrow.  When you wake up in the morning, before you leap out of bed and race around doing a million and one things, reconnect with your intention for the day and use this to anchor your day in positive way.

I also have a whole range of free resources at domoniquebertolucci.com, to help people get the life they want while loving the life they’ve got. These include downloadable workbooks, my free video course Life: Make the Most of Yours and the 100 Days Happier iPhone app which will send you an inspiring thought to help you to maintain your happiness each and every day.

How To Stay Happy With Domonique Bertolucci
The Kindness Pact, $19.95
July 26, 2015

5 Self-Help Books Every Woman Needs

In need of a some new books to help change your perception on life? Who doesn’t! Sometimes we all require a little extra guidance, and the best way to get some is to sit back and relax with a self-help book.

RELATED: Why Power Naps Are Clinically Proven Health-Boosters

Choosing just one book to start can feel a little daunting at first, but we have hand-picked some of our favourites for you below.

Choosing just one book to start can feel a little daunting at first, but we have hand-picked some of our favourites for you below.

The Kindness Pact, Domonique Bertolucci

8 promises to make you feel good about who you are and the life you live. A great book if you’re unsure of where to start and need to reflect on your own actions.

In need of a some new books to help change your perception of life? Who doesn't! Sometimes we all require a little extra guidance, and the best way to get some is to sit back

Six Pillars of Self Esteem, Nathaniel Branden

If your self esteem needs a reality check, then this straightforward book is the best one for you. It clearly explains how anyone can master great self confidence at any age.

5 Self-Help Books Every Woman Needs

10% Happier, Dan Harris

Who else is a victim of their thoughts, even at the best of times? Take control of your life and make your thoughts work with you, rather than against you. A delightful little read on how to make the most of your life.

5 Self-Help Books Every Woman Needs

Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done, Adrian Tannock

As women, we often have more than we bargained for on our daily schedule. If you’re always leaving everything to the eleventh hour, this will will change your views on almost everything.

5 Self-Help Books Every Woman Needs

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, Martha Davis

Finding it hard to practice what you preach? This interactive workbook will help to realise your goals and make the most of what you read, without making it feel like a waste of time.

5 Self-Help Books Every Woman Needs

What are some of your best self-help books?

Image via Womens Health Mag, Buzzfeed

July 23, 2015

The Science Behind Addiction And How You Can Kick It

Mark Twain said that quitting an addiction to tobacco was easy; he had done it often. But what is an addiction? According to Psychology Today, an accepted definition for an addiction is: ‘a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities.’

We intuitively know what an addiction is; when a behaviour becomes an addiction is more problematic. Is someone watching television for eight hours a day an addiction? Do two cigarettes a day constitute an addiction? Is gambling £10 a day an addiction?

Quite what causes a treat to lapse into an addiction is open to debate. Addictions such as smoking and drug abuse will arise as some form of biological alteration, where the brain and body decides that it likes a certain chemical and wants more. When an attractive and pleasurable behaviour occurs in the animal brain the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into the system, but the brain can grow to desire more, and the initial hit is not enough – combine that with cues around us such as availability and advertising, and the hit becomes irresistible.

Other addictions may be generated by one’s life situation or state of mind. Behaviours such as polishing off pints of alcohol, placing £100 on Arsenal to win, and purchasing wigs do not seem rational or even comparable, but each may counteract a feeling of emotional stress. That stress might be counteracted by one behaviour, or many; a highly-addictive personality might swap between an uncontrollable need for alcohol or drugs, simply because they must quell the needy parts of their behaviour.

This substitution method at least gives an option for the person desperate to kick a habit. Smokers worldwide, for example, have tried many methods of breaking their addiction such as gums and nicotine patches, with varying results. E-cigarettes however not only recreate the addictive chemical element of nicotine, but also the physical actions of lifting a tool to the mouth and drawing.

It is perhaps no surprise then that sales of patches and gum fell by 3% last year, dropping for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile vaping device sales grew by 75%, thanks to the efforts of scientifically astute companies such as EL-Science, creating an alternative to traditional smoking that’s fun, funky and a viable alternative to smoking.

According to journalist Johann Hari, who has researched drug addiction across the globe, a combination of cues and an unhappy, deprived lifestyle can often be the impetus behind an addiction. His theory, revealed in the Huffington Post, was partially based on experiments on rats that had developed an addiction to drugged water before being placed in more pleasant conditions and subsequently kicking their habits.

Combine that with worldwide evidence that seems to suggest placing people in recuperative, replenishing and pleasant environments to conquer their demons, as opposed to punishing them, and the likelihood of success is higher. Much like prisoners, removing negative cues and giving a sufferer a desire to achieve, and more than anything, human connections, seems to work.

July 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Instant Confidence Boosters

There are many ways to exude confidence in your everyday life – and here are just a few of them.

Love yourself

Close your eyes and think of a person you love and trust and who you know loves you. It could be your best friend, your sister or your lover. Think about all the things you adore and appreciate about this person, and notice how wonderful that love makes you feel.

Now turn it around the other way. Imagine you are your friend, sister or lover feeling that same fee love for you. Believe in this love and really feel it. Try to see yourself the way this other person sees you. Even if you can only do it for a moment you will experience a warm flow of confidence.

Be good to others

React to others are you would like them to react to you. If you wait for others to behave in a particular way before you do so yourself you may well be waiting forever. For example, if you want someone to be affectionate toward you, make a point of being as affectionate as you can to them. You don’t have to have a reason and don’t expect any payback. Similarly, react to co-works in the way you would like them to react to you. If they are rude or unfriendly don’t automatically take your cue from them. It’s up to you to set the tone yourself.

Compromise, compromise

Saying ‘no’ to someone who wants you to do something can be very powerful, but it does not have to be unhelpful. You can always suggest a friend or co-worker who might be able to help out, or ask if they have considered such and such as an alternative.

You could also put forward a compromise such as ‘I could do it for you next week when I am not likely to be so busy’.

TIP: Snack Sensibly. Snack on dried fruit and nuts rather than chocolate or junk food for a long-lasting confidence boost. You may crave sweet things, but all you will get is a quick sugar fix that won’t last long.

What is your favourite tip for instant confidence?

June 25, 2015

The Fine Line Between Sexy And Skanky

A prominent fact of life is that all people judge each other by how they look and what they wear. Some people attempt to be consciously non-judgmental and try to look past appearances, but they still make unconscious decisions based on initial impressions on whether a person is a potential friend or foe. This phenomenon goes back to the time of the dinosaurs and it’s ultimately how the human race has survived.

It’s due to the importance of making a good impression that people generally take care of how they present themselves. Yes, there are times when you just want to sleuth out so some situations are more important than others, like going for an interview, a night out on the town or going on a date.

During these times if you are aiming for that sexy and sophisticated look and are actually leaning toward skanky, you will be repealing the type of life opportunities you deserve. The most imperative thing in these situations is to know the difference.

So what are they? Firstly, the difference between sexy and skanky is attitude related. Regardless of how you look, if you feel and behave like God’s gift to men, you are probably projecting yourself as skanky. Sexy, sophisticated women don’t pounce, they lure and there lies the big difference.

Traditionally, males are the hunters and that still applies to the battle of the sexes when it comes to work and play. Whether you are being interviewed for a job, at a club or on a date, the majority of men don’t like to be chased. Regardless of the advancement Feminism has made, men still judge women who chase them and prefer the company of women who don’t.

Now, apart from attitude and behavior, how you look adds to the art of luring and seduction. Sexy, sophisticated women have this down pat. When it comes to how they present themselves, less is certainly not more and if you want people to notice your brain instead of your boobs, don’t shove them out there for everyone to see.

Sexy women show just enough cleavage to be alluring, dress their age, add make-up only to enhance their natural beauty, limit accessories and emulate femininity. They avoid revealing clothing like ultra short shorts, skirts or dresses, exceptionally plunging necklines and items which look more like lingerie. They also know how to style footwear. For example; many people refer to long full length boots as cum-fuck-me-boots. If you are going to wear them you need to know what message they are sending and how to style them with elegance and grace.

So, unless you’re heading down to the beach, cover up a bit and let the imagination work its magic. I’m not being a prude either. After years of experience, having male friends, work colleagues and a couple of long term partners, I have an excellent insight into the way they think. It’s not just men either. Other women are probably your most cynical critics and many will notice if you look skanky.

If you are unsure before you step out the door, check out how you look in the mirror. If you’re about to have a wardrobe malfunction and your breasts are about to leap out of your top, stop! If you bend over and get a peek of your underwear, (lets hope you are wearing some) stop! Turn around and choose something else. Plus, if your makeup has you looking like someone else, you are probably overdoing it.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter if you are 19 or 69, if you look skanky instead of sexy, it will make other people uncomfortable. That will limit valuable life opportunities, including jobs, friendships and relationships. Sure, you might get a fair bit of attention, but you need to aim for positive attention to ultimately get the best out of life.

Good luck!

Image via cmarchuska.com

December 13, 2014

Why You Never Deserve Male Violence And Bullying

Angie, 36, feels trapped in a toxic relationship because her physically and emotionally abusive, long-term boyfriend earns a lot of money and controls the finances. Years of degrading comments have left her feeling hopeless, worthless and powerless to leave him.

Jane, 25, is young, successful and slim, but stays with her emotionally abusive boyfriend, who constantly tells her she’s fat and stupid, because she’s scared of being alone and has started to believe his taunts about never being able to find someone better to love her.

Sophie, 45, has endured years of domestic violence, physical sexual and emotional, at the hands of her long-time husband, but is scared of leaving him because she’s worried about what further harm he’ll do to her and their three kids, and besides, the AVO she took out against him hasn’t worked anyway.

RELATED: Escaping Domestic Violence

Male bullying and violence can take many varied and insidious forms, but know this dear reader – you never, ever deserve it. And while the above names may be fake, to protect the innocent and safeguard people’s privacy, sadly the scenarios are not – they’re all recent, real-life examples.

Widespread male violence and bullying can be from a brother, father, or a partner; sadly, violence against women is one of the most widespread human rights abuses in Australia and around the world. In fact, one in three Australian women will experience violence in an intimate relationship.

self-help, self-esteem, domestic violence

And while I’m sure I don’t need to bombard you with many further grim domestic violence statistics here – for violence against women is so widespread and ingrained in our society that most women will know others in the above situations or experience such abuse themselves – it is noteworthy that domestic violence is the biggest cause of homelessness for Australian women.

And when you’re young and naive, you might think you can change a partner; make them a better person capable of kicking their abusive ways. But as you mature, you will hopefully come to realise, as I had to in my early 20s, that that’s not your job and you deserve so much more than they could ever give you.

And speaking of what we women deserve, just this past weekend I was so saddened to read a newspaper report about how a 16-year-old rising Romanian tennis player said she “deserved” to be violently assaulted by her abusive father (also her coach) because she’d played badly.

How did it come to this, that women feel they bring male violence and bullying on themselves? And what makes a man, as my vile, middle-aged neighbour did recently, ever think it’s OK to verbally abuse a woman, from the street outside her home, over fallen palm fronds in his yard post-storm?

I pride myself on being a strong woman, but even I shrunk back into the shadows of my lounge room when this nutter decided to hurl abuse at me at 9am on a Sunday, all while my husband was away and I was breakfasting with my two toddlers in the supposed safety of my own home! And so I went in search of answers from a clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, over this difficult issue.

I hope you find her expert, wise answers as illuminating and helpful as I did.

abuse, violence, victim, love, survival, thriving, help, government and welfare agencies

Why is male violence and bullying so prevalent in society? Unfortunately, often boys grow up thinking it’s OK to use their strength and size to get what they want and they continue this bullying behaviour into adulthood because they find that it works; they can dominate and intimidate to get what they want. It may be more likely in boys who lack good verbal skills as they feel more competent using intimidation rather than discussion.

How do we teach women they never “deserve” to be abused, whether physically, sexually or emotionally? Of course no woman (or child) deserves to be abused! No one “deserves” abuse and no one has the right to abuse others. Of course, it does happen for reasons mentioned above. Perpetrators often abuse women for trivial things and make them believe they are stupid, incompetent, clumsy or whatever. This make the perpetrator feel strong/powerful/in control. Women with a reasonable sense of self-esteem can counteract this with an appropriate comment, but women who lack self confidence, are fearful or who feel helpless will take such put-downs to heart and feel even more disempowered. Addressing the DV or abuse would involve helping the woman to believe in their own worth and not accept bullying and abuse.

How do women being abused best seek for help? Talk to anyone and everyone – friends, family, DV help lines and if it doesn’t stop, the police. Bring the abuse out into the open because it’s more likely to escalate if kept hidden. Unfortunately, women often don’t like to talk about it if they are being abused because they often feel a sense of shame. Perpetrators often make their victims believe it is the woman’s fault. Abused women are often lacking in self-esteem so agencies that work with abused women will help them to build their self-esteem.

Why are some female victims so scared and reluctant to seek help? How can we better support these women? The reality is that some perpetrators make terrible threats against them and their children and women have good reason to be afraid. Usually abuse in a family starts with something small and gradually escalates. That’s why it’s important to address the abuse as soon as it begins, with a clear message that it’s not ok. But it’s not easy and women should never be judged for not speaking up. Perpetrators sometimes threaten to harm/kill the woman and/or her children if they seek outside help, so it’s fear of the repercussions if they speak up that prevents them.

How can mothers better educate their sons not to abuse women? The way in which the father and other significant other male role models treat and speak to and about women is very important. If these male role models set an example of respectful treatment of women then boys are likely to internalise this, just as they will internalise disrespect and abuse of women. It’s not inevitable though – boys can make a conscious decision to be different from their fathers.

If you are experiencing male violence and/or bullying in any of its forms, seek help via The National Domestic Violence Hotline via www.thehotline.org; and/or www.somethingincommon.gov.au, and/or Lifeline on 13 11 14 and www.lifeline.org.au.

Human Rights Day

 

Main image via gretchenmiller.wordpress.com and secondary image via www.pixabay.com

December 10, 2014

Could Someone You Know Have A Personality Disorder?

Ever heard of someone described as a narcissist? This term comes from a type of Personality Disorder (PD). Many people don’t realise it but PDs are amongst the most common of all psychiatric diagnosis. Therefore, chances are pretty high, that you know someone who has this or at least shows some PD traits.

There are 10 types of PDs which are classified by 3 distinct subtypes; Suspicious, Emotional and Impulsive or Anxious. The following is a brief explanation of each type of PD:

Suspicious

Paranoid personality disorder

The main characteristic here, is their inability to trust others. Therefore, they will vigilantly be looking for betrayal and mistrust. They lack the capacity to get close to others due to their suspicious nature.

Schizoid personality disorder

There people are chronic loners. They find little enjoyment in life and can be emotionally and intimately void.

Schizotypal personality disorder

People with this disorder can be odd and eccentric. They often use words from a made up language, are preoccupied with having special powers and feel anxious and paranoid in social settings.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)

This type of person is classically egocentric and will have been diagnosed with conduct disorder before they reach 15. They have no sense of guilt, will do anything to get what they want, lack consequential thought, strive for success and will be reckless and impulsive. If you’ve ever been ripped off by someone, chances are they have ASPD or at least identify with these traits.

Emotional and Impulsive

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Mood swings, recklessness, impulsiveness, emotional, clingy; are all characteristics of BPD. They would likely have a history in self harm, substance abuse or suicide.

Histrionic personality disorder

If you know someone who thrives on drama, being the centre of attention, is over emotional, needs to entertain you and constantly seeks the approval of others; then they are exhibiting classic signs of this disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder 

Much like ASPD, except they feel they deserve special treatment and are above everyone else. They will resent success in others, dislike being ignored and rely on others for their self worth.

Anxious

Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder

With a chronic fear of rejection and inferiority, these poor souls avoid all types of social situations, including having to go to work. They expect disapproval and criticism, and feel a need to hide away to avoid it. They are often extremely isolated and lonely.

Dependent personality disorder

Due to chronic low self confidence, these sufferers need others more than any other type of person. They are unable to function, make decisions, take responsibility, be alone and are totally passive and submissive. They are almost childlike in their need for protection and care.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)

Similar to OCD (ritualistic need to perform repetitive behaviours) which many people have heard of, OCPD is characterised by a desire to control themselves and their environment. They expect the worst, often hoard things for fear of throwing items away, have unreachable expectations of themselves and others and fully believe they know best. If you have seen the TV show “Hoarders”, about individuals who are unable to disregard everyday items and what many considered rubbish; then you have witnessed what can classically be defined as OCPD.

Most PDs are identified by loved ones or those around them. Suffers are generally unaware of the severity of their traits and the impact it has on others. As a result, it is often those around them who demand mental health intervention and this is when a diagnosis is made.

If you think you or someone you love might have a PD, head to this website for further information: nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/personalitydisorders.html

Image via media-cache-ec3.pinimg.com/736x/dc/23/ec/dc23ec68e11e3fd8856c66529a204c8c.jpg

By Kim Chartres

 

September 7, 2014

Enabling Or Helping – What Is It You’re Doing?

Are you or someone you know dealing with the consequences of someone else’s behaviour? It can be as simple as continuously putting away your kids toys or as time-consuming as taking home piles work because a colleague has unable to meet their deadline, once again. This is actually enabling, not helping. It happens all the time. Usually the more someone does for a person, the more will be asked of them over time. Anyone who is putting their precious energy into “helping”, needs to be aware of the fine line between enabling and helping.

Parents are often prime enablers. It starts from infancy and continues for as long as they let it happen. Children need to learn from an early age that they are responsible for their own actions. For example, if they scribble on the wall with crayon; let them help in the clean up. It’s ok to provide support and assistance, but if children are shielded from the negative consequences of their behaviour; they will be unlikely to learn.

It’s well researched that dealing with natural consequences aids learning. Young children learn to avoid a hot surface because it burns. So this type of learning can begin very early. Children will also learn if they need to accept responsibility of their actions or be able to shift it along to others.

Those who don’t want to deal with the negative repercussion of their own behaviour will look for alternatives. They may use people who love them to accept these for them. Parents can unknowingly encourage this. Eventually, even loved ones get tired of this and pull away from them. No one wants to see those around them fall; so it’s best to put a stop to enabling as soon as it is recognised for what it is.

If someone has been enabled for a long time, they will likely be unable to cope. This is where helping and enabling are two very difference objectives. It is really important to be aware of the difference. Enabling is the removal of negative consequence for behaviour, whereas helping is a purely supportive role. Although the person will want the enabler to take on their regular role and enable them to continue upon their path, a re-education needs to occur. The enabler will need to step back and provide support whilst letting the perpetrator of the behaviour deal with their consequences.

The shift from enabling to helping will be a positive one for all concerned but not an easy transition. Often the relationship has severed the needs of both parties and the relationship will need to be re-established. Enablers will need to relinquish control whilst letting the other regain theirs.

In situations where enabling of addiction or other serious behaviours are needing to be addressed, seek professional support. A recommended starting point is to visit a GP, discuss the behaviour and seek a referral to an appropriate professional. 

By Kim Chartres

August 24, 2014

Understanding Addiction

Are you unable to put down your smart phone? Maybe over eating or drinking is your problem? Perhaps you’re indulging in too many prescription pills? Whether someone is overcoming an illegal or legal addiction is irrelevant. Most addictive behaviours can be treated similarly and have a similar pattern and path. Once these are understood, it is much easier to overcome any type of addiction.

Addiction in it’s most basic form, is excessive behaviour. The difference between regular behaviour and an addiction, is that regular behaviour can be ceased without distress and can be absent from ones life, without causing a significant impact.

In today’s society we have many behaviours than can easily lead to addictions. The following scenario depicts an addictive behaviour, associated with mobile phone use.

You hear the tone of your phone go off during a funeral. Instead of switching it off or declining the call; you choose to pick it up and start a conversation. You therefore need to answer your phone, regardless of your physical situation. In this instance, you may have an addictive behaviour attached to the use of your mobile phone.

Why this person felt inclined to answer the call, could have been, for one of two reasons. Either they did it automatically and neglected to notice their surroundings or they felt an overwhelming compulsion to answer it. In the later, they may have needed to answer the call to relieve distress or considerable discomfort they felt, when the phone rang.

This would have occurred through conditioning. Behavioural Psychologists such as Pavolv and Skinner, did extensive research into how behaviours were learned, maintained and extinguished. This has been exceptionally helpful in the field of addiction.

According to behavioural psychologists, the first step toward changing behaviour, is recognising it. For example; alcoholism can’t be treated without the drinker being aware they have a problem. So if you or someone you know has a problem that goes unnoticed; the behaviour isn’t likely to change.

Once the behaviour is recognised as being excessive, measures can be taken to correct it. In most cases this will involve acknowledging and understanding triggers which lead to the behaviour. Triggers are those things in life which prompt a behaviour. Using the scenario above; the ring tone would be considered the trigger and answering the phone, the conditioned behaviour.

Once a behaviour is learned and has been maintained, it can be difficult to extinguish. Maintenance usually occurs so the person can avoid the negative consequences of avoiding the behaviour. For example, alcoholics and drug abusers maintain their addiction, by knowing they need to ingest their desired substance, to avoid withdrawal.

Avoiding negative consequences can be a powerful maintenance tool. Once this is overcome, the process of extinguishing can commence. This involves avoiding the behaviour and reprogramming the conditioning process. With the mobile phone scenario, an example of reconditioning could involve ignoring the ring tone so it diminishes the conditioned behaviour. It may cause the person considerable discomfort to initially ignore the tone, but after a time, it would become much easier.

To alter the behaviour to answer the phone only when appropriate; the tone should be changed and the behaviour of only answering at specific times, would be practised. This would encourage a less addictive behaviour. Similar practices are done with food intake, such as eating only at the table or designating food free zones, such as the lounge room, where people often snack on unhealthy foods.

In theory, overcoming addictions is quite simple. However, emotions complicates the process. If you view an excessive behaviour as a conditioned, rather than emotional behaviour, your chance of overcoming it will be increased.

By Kim Chartres

August 15, 2014