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How to end an addiction to food, alcohol, drugs, etc.
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Ending the Addiction Pattern
by Kathryn Martyn, M.NLP

Addicted people are stuck in a mental loop:

1. They try to avoid or give up the addictive substance (whether food, alcohol, gambling, or any other addiction, the process is the same).

2. They miss their addiction, but want to quit, so they keep up their efforts to ignore or avoid the addictive substance.

3. They start to talk to themselves about how they aren't really addicted, how just a little bit won't hurt, and how no one knows how they really feel.

4. They start to feel sorry for themselves, and think about how they deserve better.

5. They visualize themselves enjoying their addiction, remembering the "good times."

6. They think about their addiction constantly.

7. They decide to have "just a little" of the addictive substance, just for old times sake, and only this once.

8. One bite, one drink, etc. and they are back to full-time using, and have forgotten all about quitting or cutting back. It is easier to fall back into familiar patterns than keep with the effort to change. It feels better, even though now they are back to the point of talking them into making another attempt to change.

How to use EFT and NLP to Change the Addiction Pattern

1. They Try to Avoid or Give up the Addictive Substance

Trying implies effort, but you don't make an effort to change, you simply decide to change. Yoda said, "There is no try," and I believe that is true. You don't try to open a door, you either open it or you do not. There is a process involved in getting the door opened - you must reach out for the door knob and turn it in the right direction, if it is locked you must use a key. There are steps everyone must take to successfully open the door, but it is not a matter of trying. It's either done, or it is not done.

When you tell yourself you are "going to try" to change a habit, you're giving yourself an easy out. It didn't work, I didn't try hard enough. Instead, use the language of change:

"I'm going to ...
"I intend to ...
"I will ...

2. They Miss their Addiction

Missing the addiction means you are thinking about it in positive terms; remembering the good times. To avoid this, write the following two lists:

  1. Positive Benefits of Addiction - what you enjoy about it
    • I like eating sweets, they taste good
    • I like giving myself a treat
    • I like feeling "numbed out"
  2. Negative Results of Addiction - what are the negative effects
    • I'm too fat from all the extra food
    • I feel uncomfortable when I'm over full
    • I get sick and miss work
  3. Positive Benefits of Quitting the Addiction
    • I'll lose weight
    • I'll save money
    • I'll feel better about myself
    • I'll look better
    • People will compliment me on my appearance
    • I'll feel a sense of accomplishment in being able to follow through
  4. Negative Results of Quitting the Addiction
    • I'll lose my favorite "private" activity
    • I'll have to quit enjoying my favorite foods
    • I won't be able to do whatever I want anymore

Take your lists, and keep them in a drawer. When you are seriously in the mood to go back to your addiction, pull out your lists, and review them. Which is more compelling, your reasons to stop or your reasons to continue? If you do not make your reasons to stop more compelling, then perhaps you just aren't ready to make a commitment to change.

3. They Talk to Themselves About How They Aren't Really Addicted

When the voices in your head start speaking to you in a "let's talk ourselves into in" type of manner, that is when to start using EFT.

(Go to the How to Perform Basic EFT for Weight Loss for an instructions).

"Even though I want to eat french fries, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even though I'm not sure I can do this, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even though I'm not sure I want to do this, I deeply and completely accept myself."

The EFT process works simply because it disrupts the customary patterned responses. While you do the tapping you are thinking about what you are saying, and in many instances, your thoughts will change from "I can't do this" to "Why can't I?" You'll answer your own questions.

4. They Start to Feel Sorry for Themselves

Feeling sorry for yourself is a classic way to go back to your old habits. Oh, how easy to fall into the "nobody loves me" pattern. Even in you truly believe no one cares for you, remember you must care for yourself first.

We work through these issues one step at a time. If you are in the feeling sorry for yourself phase, use EFT as follows:

"Even though it's not fair that I can't eat like everyone else, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even if nobody loves me, I deeply and completely accept myself."

5. They Visualize Themselves Enjoying their Addiction

Do you picture yourself doing the very thing you say you don't want to do? There is no surer way back to the old, familiar pattern, than by picturing yourself there. Your brain loves this type of instruction. It's called visualization. You are visualizing what you do not want, but your brain doesn't know that. It only knows that what you visualize is what you desire, and it will work to gain that for you.

Instead, visualize what you do want. When you catch yourself in a memory of the "good times" change the picture. Imagine the scene on a big black board in front of you and take out an eraser. As you erase the old picture, the new picture emerges underneath, so you start to see the scene of the new you. The addictive substance free you.

If eating is your addiction, then you obviously continue to eat, but in a new way. You eat foods that nurture your health and vitality. You enjoy wonderful tastes and textures, you love food. Nothing changes that, but imagine yourself enjoying a beautiful meal with candlelight and music, not blaring bright lights and red tiles on the walls. Imagine you have a staff bringing you your meals, and they are beautifully prepared. You enjoy a taste of the most wonderful things - but you have no need to gulp it down, you can have more anytime you want.

Gulping and swallowing our foods practically whole in not something you would do if you knew you'd never be without. Perhaps the idea of not having enough, or not getting enough should be addressed?

"Even though I'm afraid I won't get enough, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even though I don't believe there is going to always be enough, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even though when I was small I couldn't have seconds, I deeply and completely accept myself."

"Even though my older brother would always take the best piece, I deeply and completely accept myself."

Continue in this manner, working on the issues these questions and statements bring up.

6. They Think About their Addiction Constantly

Thinking about the thing you do not want, is very much like No. 5 above. You are giving your brain the instruction to bring to you the very thing you claim to not want. It will not work. You must focus on what you do want. Every time you think about what you do not want, immediately do a round of EFT:

"Even though I can't stop thinking about it, I deeply and completely accept myself."

7. They Decide to Have "Just a Little"

Deciding to go ahead and have some of the addictive substance is basically giving yourself permission to go ahead and go back to your prior behavior. You are deciding to quit. The act of deciding is one of making a choice, good or bad, but a choice. The choice is always yours to make.

If you decide to stop, you'll stop, and if the going gets rough, you must again decide. You can again decide to stop, it's no more difficult than deciding to give up. There is no such thing as not making a decision, for the very act of saying you will not decide, is a decision in itself. You have simply decided to linger in the middle, in the indecision phase. It's just another choice.

You Decide your Life Path

The reason it seems impossible to end an addiction is because in many cases we like it. After all, we wouldn't continue if it didn't give us some benefit whether that benefit is feeling better (if only for a moment), getting to "let loose," numbing ourselves to emotional pain, distancing ourselves from relationships, or any number of things.

Using weight loss for an example, diets are meant to be started and then stopped, so what possible result could be achieved except one that is temporary? Yet, we are upset when we regain the weight. The reason overeating or binge eating seems the hardest of all addictions to quit (harder that even hard drugs) is because we cannot simply go "cold turkey" and stop eating. We must continue to eat, so therefore, we must learn to enjoy our addiction in moderation.

At AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) they will tell you there is no such thing as moderation. You must stop drinking, completely, forever, or you will not succeed. (I'm not a fan of the all-or-nothing approach, but it works for many people).

We do what we believe to be the best thing for ourselves in any given moment. It may not seem this way but it is true. Your subconscious is always working to take care of you the best way it knows how, and if you've taken care of yourself by overmedicating or overeating for years, then that's the habit your subconscious will continue to support. That is until you make a conscious decision, and then reinforce it with whatever is necessary for the uncomfortable times while your subconscious learns to accept a new way.

Quick Technique for How to Quit Smoking and/or Overeating at Night

When I quit smoking I knew saying I'd never smoke again from that day forward probably wouldn't work for me, so instead I decided that every morning when I first awoke, I would then decide, for that day only, whether I would smoke that day. I could make it through one day I knew, and if I felt confident in the morning, then I decided I could make it through the day no matter what happened. Once I decided for that day, I had the will to carry it through. I believed my own word.

It wasn't easy, but all I had to do was remind myself I only had to make it until the next morning. Then I could have a cigarette, if I still wanted it. I did this same thing when I learned to stop eating after dinner in the evenings (together with eating earlier in the day so I wasn't so ravenous). If I felt really hungry like I'd go crazy on the spot if I didn't give in, I decided to wait it out. I knew I wouldn't die from hunger (I could actually survive for quite awhile if truth be told), and I could have it in the morning, if I still wanted it. Anyone can wait a few hours, right?

Do this for yourself right now. Tomorrow morning, when you first wake up, make a decision for that day, and that day only. This works best if you have already decided either a habit you intend to change (such as eating something more healthful than fast food for instance). So, for example, if you are going to stop eating fast foods every day, and you have decided you'll only eat fast foods on Friday and Saturdays, then if tomorrow is Thursday, when you awake, you make that decision, "Can I go today without having fast food?" It's a yes or no question, not a maybe, and not an "I'll try." If you decide yes, then go ahead and have it. No harm done. Tomorrow is another day, but if you decide, "No," you are not going to have it, then resolve you will follow-through no matter how hard your brain tries to tell you to give in. Be strong, you can make it. It's only until tomorrow, after all.

Can you do this? Can you decide for today and then follow through? Of course you can. It's just one day.

Think ahead to what you will have for your meals. Make a plan. Don't make it harder on yourself by waiting until you are too hungry and then have nothing in mind to eat. That's setting yourself up for failure like waiting until you run out of gas to look for a filling station.

Do you need to go to the store or do you already have some foods at home you can prepare? Make it enjoyable, not something to be suffered through so you can get back to your usual habits. That's another diet mentality, "I just have to stay on this horrible diet for another three days, and then I can eat again." Find foods you really enjoy eating.

Then tomorrow, when you awake, think back on yesterday. Relish the feeling of knowing you made it. You did it and you lived to tell the tale! It was probably easier than you thought, and you now have that positive experience to add to your history. Now decide again, for today. Do you want to go another day?

This was how I quit smoking and this was how I changed my eating habits and how I maintain a healthy body weight. Using this plan, you can avoid No. 8. which is, "Giving up." Even if this doesn't sound like something you're ready to try not, put it in your back pocket, because it is a very effective way to make a change. All change seems difficult, and having a plan can greatly increase your chances at success.

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Kathryn Martyn Smith, M.NLP EFT Weight Loss Coach
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