Self-Control

You Can Learn to Resist Urges

        “Self-control is what you build up, develop, create and learn by controlling your behavior repeatedly. ~Hank Robb
Self Control Self-control is a skill. It’s not something you’re born with, it is something that requires work and practice. Have you ever said to yourself “I just don’t seem to have any self-control over my drinking, drugging, eating, etc.”? Ask yourself this question: “Am I well practiced at resisting urges and opportunities to drink, or to drug, or to eat in a disordered way?” Chances are your answer will be “No”. In fact, you may be very well practiced at giving in to those urges and opportunities to use. You might even be considered to be skilled at doing so.

How do we acquire any skill? Think back to when you first learned to ride a bicycle. Did riding the bicycle feel like a normal behavior to you? Did you start out as an expert? Or did you spend hours and hours learning to ride without falling? And what was the result of those hours and hours of practice? Over time, you grew comfortable and confident in your new skill.

Results begin at the end of your comfort zone.

Getting control over your urges and opportunities to use is like getting control over that bicycle (or roller skates, or anything else for that matter). You’re not going to start out as an expert. You will get control of any new skill only by moving outside your comfort zone, by pushing yourself at first to act differently than you have been acting. It may be difficult or feel very uncomfortable to you at first. Difficult or uncomfortable? Yes. Impossible? No! By practicing over and over, your skill level will improve until you are engaging in your new behaviors comfortably and confidently. And your comfort zone will grow wider!

In one famous study on self-control, children were left alone with a candy bar and told that if they didn’t eat it they would get two candy bars when the researcher returned. The children were then secretly observed. Those who successfully resisted the temptation to eat the candy bar used tactics such as verbal self-reminders and distracting activities as they waited for the researcher to return. Children who were not successful in resisting the temptation to eat the candy bar were later able to learn how to do so after being taught new strategies for better self-control, strategies like learning that urges are time-limited, and that they will crest and subside if we stall and divert our thoughts to something else.

SMART Recovery teaches strategies for improving self-control, for changing how we respond to urges…..and the importance of getting back on the bike if we take a tumble! Members who practice resisting urges find their urge-busting muscles become quite strong over time and report that it becomes easier and easier to continue. They have been exercising and building their self-control and now have begun to show a fair amount of skill. In everyday language, thinking that you must first have self-control before you can acquire a change in your behavior is “putting the cart before the horse.”

SMART Recovery® provides a “toolbox” of proven techniques and strategies for changing unwanted behaviors and achieving successful addiction recovery. By learning about what self-control really is and using the tools found in the toolbox, members are empowered to make positive changes in their lives.

Explore the SMART Recovery 4-Point Program® for helping people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors, including: drug abuse, drug addiction, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, prescription drug abuse, and problems with other substances and activities. SMART Recovery sponsors face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, the online message board and 24/7 chat room are excellent forums for learning about SMART Recovery and obtaining addiction recovery peer support.

Source: Adapted from a News & Views article by “Stan Colburn, Retired Facilitator (with credit to Hank Robb)”

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3 Responses to “Self-Control”

  1. Christine V. says:

    There was many great statements in this I know self-control comes from within. But me reading about the practice is what I need to do to get better not just feel better really gave me alot to think about and made me realize alot where I messed up in my many attempts to recover.

  2. Good blog. I agree with Dr. Hester too. As you know Dr. Albert Ellis used to say that “work and practice” were the two necessary components of achieving both cognitive and behavioral change so we can get better, not just feel better.

  3. Well said Hank. When Arthur Rubenstein, a world famous pianist, was in New York city and asked how one gets to Carnegie Hall, he replied “Practice, practice, practice.”

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