Disclaimer: I have no knowledge or expertise in the area of addictions. If you have a true addiction, especially one of a chemical nature, please seek professional help such as a therapist.
I talked in a previous post about my addictions. Lately there’s just too much drama, so at the urging of #2, who is continually baffled at hearing me whine, even if it results in entertaining blog posts (and lots of hits!), I’ve been attempting to wean off the latest forum.
Usually in these cases the best thing to do is to just quit cold turkey, to cancel my account so I can’t log in even if I wanted to. Then I might be able to read the forum, but without actually being able to participate it’s not as addicting. In this specific case I really don’t want to do that because I can’t read this forum unless I have a login and on a few occasions it has been much more efficient to ask a question or search the forum than to ask the internet. I have a general idea about who has good information and who is a crackpot. There’s also a few threads with very useful information that I don’t want to lose access to if I need to look something up on those particular topics.
So the next thing to do is to make it more difficult for me to access the forums. I did this with the Chronicle back in the day, blocking access completely from my work computer. I’d go to the page and it would say I wasn’t allowed to access the page. Disabling that was a PITA. Sadly Windows has upgraded and I can’t use the same method to do that. I can block from IE or Firefox, but that block is WAY too easy to disable.
In this case, I logged out, deleted my cookies, cleared the cache, and forced myself not to type the URL on my work computer. On my home computer, I only allowed myself to type it on IE and I deleted all traces of having been there after visiting the page, so I couldn’t just go back in with the click of a button or two.
It was really hard not accessing it at first and I sometimes bypassed my controls to get in.
I allowed myself to check it every few days, then longer periods of time.
And the sad secret to these forums is, no matter how long I spend on them when I’m active, nothing interesting happens on forums when I’m not there to participate. This was always a sad discovery when I’d been on vacation without internet for a few days, and it’s just as sad when I try to break an addiction. What have I been spending all that time on? Nothing. Sigh.
Of course, immediately I try to find substitute addictions. Our blog queue is bustling. Get rich slowly got a few extra arguments in that it would have escaped had I still had a forum to “spread my wisdom” at. Blogs have been commented on. I’ve been checking out another forum, much to #2’s consternation, that I will not and have not signed up for. I can already tell that one guy on there is a sexist bastard with major issues (just like on the Chronicle forums, joyeaux!) and a woman on there seriously needs to get therapy for herself no matter what she thinks is wrong with her daughter (just like on regular mothering forums!).
On the plus side, I’ve read a lot more novels than I usually do and reading novels is more fun than getting into online arguments. The house is also a bit cleaner than usual, though a lot of that was Spring break.
#2 supports you through this arduous process, and deeply encourages use of novels.
#2 is also becoming a fan of changing habits using behavioral techniques that don’t rely on willpower. Willpower is hard. An example of such a technique: making it physically impossible (or at least hard) to do that thing you want to do but shouldn’t. That lessens the strain on your willpower, and #1 did that admirably. Even logging one’s behavior can often lead to change, which is why food diaries are a component of so many successful healthy eating plans.
Getting social support for change (hello, accountability web page!) and distancing yourself from temptation can also work too. Finally, course, you could distract yourself by replacing one habit with another (oops?).
Commitment devices are also awesome. NaNoWriMo recommends making a bet with a friend: whoever doesn’t meet their goal has to do something awful, such as doing the dishes for a month or shaving one’s head. Having a consequence already in place that you have to work to stave off — now that’s motivating! My favorite idea for big, hard, important goals is another one I stole from the NaNoWriMo book (#1 notes, and THEY stole from Dean Karlan… that he stole from Boice…): Write a check for a large-ish amount of money to an organization you hate. If you are a republican, write it to the democratic national party, or vice versa. If you are pro-life, write it to NARAL. Etc. Sign this check, put it in an envelope, address and stamp it. Give the envelope to someone trustworthy. If you meet your goal, the person gives it back to you and you tear it up. If you don’t meet your goal, they mail it. Aiee!
Do you have any legal addictions? How do you break them? What do you do with your time once you’ve broken them?