How to Stop a Bad Habit Such As Joint Popping, Using An Ordinary Rubber Band.

The reader will learn how to use a simple method of behavioral conditioning to stop a bad habit.

Habits, such as joint popping, are very difficult to break, but with a little extra encouragement the behavior can be altered permanently. This is not an exercise in pure will, as it requires a behavioral conditioning technique to change what has become an unconscious action.

The first step is to acknowledge that it is truly one's desire to break the habit. Without a full understanding of the undesirable aspects of the habit and recognition that any short-term pleasures are offset by the long-term effects, whether physical, mental or social, then success is highly unlikely. As with any shift in behavior, there must be true motivation guiding the action. It is recommended that one take a pen and paper and write down on one side of the paper all of the benefits of the action, and on the other side the negative as well. Let's take an example: If the habit one desires to stop is finger popping, then the paper may look something like this:

Pros and Cons of Habit
Pros Pro Weight Cons Con Weight
Temporary pleasure
+1
Early Arthritis
-2
Relief of tension
+1
Socially undesirable
-1
Fun
+1
Weakens joint structure
-2
Total:
+3
Total:
-5

Based on this view, it is clear that the benefits do not outweigh the negative effects.

The next step requires a prop: A rubber band. A rubber band is placed around the wrist and whenever one engages in the habit, then the rubber band is snapped. It may take a bit of practice, because one may not at first be conscious of the act. This act does a few key things:

  1. It forces conscious realization of the habit.
  2. It provides a negative pain response for association with the act.

Conscious realization of the act is the first step towards recovery. One reason why the habit has reached a point where corrective action is needed is because one is unaware that the act is being performed. This could apply to popping a joint or to reaching automatically for another potato chip. This works best with habits where the person does not ordinarily notice that they are doing it. So the first step of conditioning is getting oneself to the point where one can recognize when the habit is being performed and then react accordingly with a snap of the rubber band.

The second component is negative reinforcement of the act. The snap of the rubber band hurts, although it is not excessive or damaging. Associating the act with the pain centers of the brain builds a subsconscious association of negativity with the act. One could go one step further, and also snap the rubber band when the urge occurs. This builds a reaction towards the thought of the act itself.

With a little practice, this simple technique can work to break the undesired habit. The first step is realization that the habit is harmful, and mentally prepare onself to quit. The second step is to condition oneself to realize when the act is being performed. And the third and final step towards recovery is the association of a minor pain response to the act.

It does not work for everyone, but it has been proven to be successful time and again.

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