Maybe you’ve driven yourself to work, only to reflect later that you can’t remember many details of how you got there. It seemed as if your mind took over the driving as you thought about other things. Maybe you planned how to deal with a difficult situation in your workday. Well, that amazing capacity is just one example how our mind can work at times. That’s especially true of the habit of drinking too much. We can do it “without thinking.”
There’s hope, however. Although we can allow the “autopilot” function of our brain to take over, in order to avoid a bad habit, we can also learn to interrupt it. Better still, we can teach ourselves a new, good habit.
Maybe you believe you drink too much. You keep doing so in spite of bad things that happen. Just trying, saying three times (or more), “I won’t do this again,” won’t be strong enough to counteract your autopilot. Think, too, of how our bodies adjust to the new dosage of chemicals, so to reduce or stop makes us cry out for more.
You can, however, teach your brain to stop a hurtful habit, like drinking too much.
1. Watch how others do it. Spend time with them. Copy their behaviors.
2. Practice the new behavior yourself.
3. Find people to “coach” you through new learning.
4. Keep trying. Relapse is part of learning how to live without drinking too much.
Source: Brian E. King, Ph.D. Presentation on How the Brain Forms New Habits, Institute for Brain Potential, Clackamas, OR 2/1/12