Like the addict, the habitué is a person with an automatic response intended to alleviate pain. In both cases, the addict and the habitué wish to relieve the painful stress of desire. However, unlike the addict, the habitué requires relatively little willpower to resist the automatic behavior. For example, most of us can resist a craving for chocolate cake, though it may be difficult. However, for a heroin addict, resisting the craving for a hit can be nearly impossible.
When breaking habitué behaviors, we need techniques that will improve the strength of our willpower to find peace, despite the discomfort that comes from not fulfilling a desire. Behavior engineers should apply methods proven to improve pain tolerance.
Methods that work to create a habitue behavior change include:
- Willpower training
- Increasing pain tolerance
- Learning to find comfort with discomfort
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
- Physical exercise
What methods are good for:
- Coping with temptation requiring a small amount of willpower, for example when resisting an unhealthy food
- Expanding the ability to delay gratification
What doesn’t work:
- Keeping score
- Operant conditioning
NOTE: I’m experimenting with crowd sourcing more methods for behavior change. Please add other effective techniques below: