The “Blankie” Principle! Break a Bad Habit. Build a Good one.

shutterstock_108669410One of the strongest addictions in the universe is the desperate need a child has for a blankie. You know, that favorite little piece of cloth that is either rubbed on the nose as they suck their thumb, or gummed into oblivion as they rub their nose?

If you don’t believe it, keep a child overnight when they have left blankie at home. No one will sleep that night.

Have you ever sniffed a blankie? Unless you enjoy retching uncontrollably, I don’t recommend it.

My daughter tried taking her first child’s blankie away “cold turkey.” It’s lucky any of us survived.

With the last child she used an ingenious method I have named the “Blankie Principle.” Every three days mom cut blankie in half. Within weeks, the child was clutching a tiny foul-smelling piece of cloth about the size of a postage stamp. Then one day it was forgotten.

The Blankie Principle works to develop good habits while simultaneously breaking bad ones. When I get up in the morning my brain tells me I can’t run for an hour; my aching body seconds the motion. So, I cut the blankie into small pieces.

Since I know I can walk for a short distance, I head out the front door. I spot a telephone pole, a road sign, or some pathetic remnant of road kill. I sprint to that marker, raise my arms in victory, acknowledging the imaginary cheers coming from the invisible throngs lining the road. Then I do it again. Before I know it an hour has passed and I’m headed for home.

Steve, a recovering alcoholic, called me one night in a panic. He was sitting in a distant hotel room overcome with the temptation to go down to the bar. He’d been down that road enough times to know it was a dead end. “I don’t know if I can stay sober the rest of my life,” he confessed.

“You don’t have to.” I said, “ You only need to stay sober tonight. Tomorrow is another day. You can face that day when it comes.” At the time I didn’t know if that was good advice or not, but looking back I can almost hear the snip, snip of the scissors. When he woke up the next morning, the overwhelming desire to drink was gone. Steve had cut his blankie down to size and has remained sober for years.

I bet you have used the blankie principle. Tell me the story! [reminder]
If you have ever sniffed a blankie, feel free to share! [reminder]

Adapted from a story in Fully Alive.