Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hidden Triggers and Change

We prepare ourselves for a making a change by creating a plan of action that we believe will work. We have created our reasons for making the change; either in the case of smoking, to avoid some kind of pain (cancer) or to obtain some kind of pleasure (spend money on a trip) that make sense to us.

We feel absolutely ready for a difficult change to a habit we know and need to change. We have psyched ourselves up and feel we are confident in that we can and will achieve the change.

We start and 3 days later we are back smoking.

What happened? We have done our homework and this was not our first time trying. We had really felt ready this time. What happened was our hidden triggers kicked in and we were not prepared to handle them.

A hidden trigger is usually an emotional state that we have over the years used our habit (smoking) to change our body state. That is to change how we feel in a certain set of circumstances. The longer the habit has existed then the more we have used the habit to change how we feel in different situations.

When making a change to a long term habit we need to recognize that we will have unexpected urges to return to our old habit long after we have stopped.

When they occur we need to recognize what is happening and adapt our coping strategy to include the newly discovered trigger. If we are prepared to handle the unexpected the better are our chances to master the change.

How do you handle your hidden triggers?

12 conversations:

paisley said...

well peter,, i must admit,, the only way i have ever dealt with any of that successfully is to move...the farther away the better.... any current habits i may have... i am evidently keeping,,, because i do not intend to be moving again.....

Lavender said...

Hi Peter, Im especially bad a changes...but one thing Ive noticed over time is the old addage "If at first you dont succeed: try, try again!" Sometimes sheer force of will can overcome, other times a changing of tactics till I find one that does the trick. In both cases, I find that my motivation has to be iron-clad if Im to see any positive results.
(Ive been reading by RSS feed lately, and appreciating your wise words.) Thanks for stopping by!

Camille said...

I don' usually handle them very well, lol! But I think whatever emotional state is triggered has to be dealt with first before we can really move on to the change we seek.

Comedy + said...

Well, this is an interesting post. Just over two years ago I quit smoking. I will say that it was one of the toughest things I've ever done. Now I had tried to quit many times before and never succeeded. Sometimes it worked for a week and sometimes I didn't make it through one day.

The last time I replaced my "best time to smoke" times with other things. I loved to smoke first thing in the morning, right after I ate, while in the car, or with a cocktail. So, these were the critical times. I replaced smoking with other things. Go for a walk after dinner, play a game, exercise, etc. Do I still want a smoke? Sometimes and I know that I am one smoke away from smoking full time. I chose not to smoke. My guess is I will have this urge off and on for the rest of my life. Excellent post Peter.

Peter Haslam said...

Keeping habits is fine Paisley but if you decide in the future to change then keep this post in mind

Peter Haslam said...

Yes Lavender intent is key

Peter Haslam said...

Good point Camille and very valid. Keep sight of the goal and handle exceptions

Peter Haslam said...

As go all of us Sandee. Just being aware will help to keep us on course

Jennifer said...

Hi Peter...

I think the deeper, long lasting changes occur deep inside. We can change the superficial but when our perspective changes, the external follows!

Nice!

Jen

Peter Haslam said...

I would agree Jennifer. The battle is won in the mind and heart first

Linda J- My Weightloss Journey said...

Figuring out what they are is the hard part. I have battled a weight problem for a long time. People always assume that it is from "emotional eating" and seeking out comfort. Actually- I have discovered the reverse is true and my disordered eating comes from a place of anger and self-sabotage. Thinking I ate for comfort and seeking healthy ways didn't work- knowing that I ate from not feeling worthy and eating to punish took me to a different place.
Figuring out the REAL trigger is the most important part of stopping the process.

Peter Haslam said...

Well said linda and thanks for joining the conversation