Reach for words, not snacks

In the recovery movement, addiction counselors use a term called countering.

It’s the substitution of healthy activities and responses for problem behaviors. And, it’s also about replacing troubling thoughts with positive ones. 

The good news is, we don’t have to battle with addiction to use that tool. Countering is a practical and powerful strategy for finding the next right action in any circumstance. 

As long as it helps rewire our brains to create the opportunity for healthy decision making, it’s worthwhile. 

I once read a unconventional diet book exclusively for writers. Cameron suggested that when an unanticipated circumstance triggered our desire to overeat, we could choose to replace addictive responses with healthy choices. 

We could reach for words, not for snacks. 

We might even ask ourselves the simple question: What can I do instead of eating? 

I tried this strategy for about six months, and found that it allowed me to more consciously choose other healthier ways of coping, instead of reaching for food to eat my feelings. Even lost a couple of pounds in the process. 

But that’s not the point. 

The goal isn’t losing weight, by learning not to resort to the unhealthy ways that we’re used to coping. 


What’s your countering strategy for replacing unhealthy behaviors? * * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

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