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Interruption

 

Techniques Willpower > Desisting > Interruption

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

A way of stopping yourself from doing something that has become an unhelpful or harmful pattern in your life is to break into the pattern as it happens.

Wait until you are actually in the act and then deliberately do something that interrupts the pattern. If you have difficulty doing this, get other people to help, breaking into your patterns in unexpected ways.

Example

If you smoke, a cigarette at 10 o'clock, schedule meetings at that time so you have to wait.

If you tend to eat more, take a break between one course and the next, watching a movie or going for a walk. Then think about skipping the second course.

If you get cross at your children when they leave toys out, stand outside for ten minutes before talking to them.

Discussion

Many of our destructive patterns are simply habits, sets of actions that we mindlessly repeat every day. If we act to break up the pattern, it creates alternatives in our minds, confusing the automatic nature of the pattern and giving us different possible courses of action rather than the single groove of the pattern.

You can also help others to kick habits by interrupting them when they are in mid-flow. One way of doing this is to ask them to 'teach' you how to perform the pattern, including what to think and what to do. Get them to think about alternatives by asking if variations of individual elements of the pattern will work.  

Breaking a pattern can create surprise, which leads to cognitive re-evaluation, re-thinking about what it is all for. Creating alternatives within the pattern turns it from a single-track pattern to one where there are many alternatives, some of which may be more effective. 

See also

Confusion principle, Distraction principle

 

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