It’s widely known that 20-30 days time is required to break a habit with consistency and what feels like hard work. But according to Maneesh, the CEO of Pavlok, the habit breaking process can be accelerated and have higher success rates! The Pavlok site states that 45% of people succeed in breaking their habit on day 1 and nearly everyone changes their habit by day 4 with this type of aversion therapy.
I personally have been trying to stop my mild nail biting habit for years, and years, and years… I might not do it for a few weeks at most when I really think about it but then I start right back up again chewing away. And most of the time, I do it without thinking because that’s what habits are, they are rituals you do daily without thinking about them.
As a beta tester, I just got my production prototype Pavlok wristband in the mail about a week ago (which I should have gotten months earlier but that is neither here nor there). And, it sat on my counter for the week. I opened the box to check it out but didn’t read any of the info, I didn’t take the wristband out… nothing. Why did I not eagerly go through the pamphlets, charge that bad boy up and don the Pavlok? Well, I wasn’t too excited about the idea of being shocked nor was I excited about the idea of stopping my bad habits… it takes work to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a challenge but I can be known to procrastinate (also a habit this shocking wristband can help me with).
Check out me shocking myself for the first time and then convincing my husband to do the same:
What is the Pavlok?
According to the the company, “Pavlok is a one button shock system that makes habit change inevitable.” Its a wearable device that can vibrate, beep, shock and flash LED’s. The Pavlok can be self administered by hitting the button on the wristband or by hitting the go button from the app on your iphone. The app also gives you or your friend the ability to adjust the level of voltage delivered.
The science behind the Pavlok
The Pavlok system is said to be based on aversion therapy. Therapies which stem from the research of behavioral researchers like Pavlov and Skinner. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist discovered the “conditioned reflex” in 1901. Pavlov did experiments on his dogs by adding a stimulus (bell) to an existing behavior (salivating to food). His result was getting his dogs to salivate to a bell alone without the presence of food – a stimulus affects a behavior. B.F. Skinners operant conditioning experiments also apply here where he used rats to negatively or positively reward them to influence their behaviors.
Essentially, Pavlok is based on aversion science and reinforcement conditioning in hopes of getting your subconscious to associate those habits with the “pain” sensation of a shock, or a vibrate or beep and even financial rewards or consequences.
Maneesh explains your brain in several parts: 1) the human brain (neocortex- will power, cognition, thoughts, language etc), 2) limbic system (emotions), and 3) the reptile brain. The reptile brains’ focuses are the fundamental needs like survival, physical maintenance, hoarding, dominance, preening and mating. It also controls automatic functions like breathing and heart rate. This powerful part of your brain understands pain and pleasure and this is where the rituals of your habits have to be reconditioned. If your reptile brain associates pain with a behavior or ritual, it will avert you from that behavior or ritual over a period of time. This is probably why I have a serious aversion to tequila after having a little too much fun in college resulting in a very negative ending ;).
The following is a pretty interesting podcast on the experiments Maneesh had done on himself and what brought about the idea of the Pavlok.
What do you get?
The Pavlok comes with the wristband, a USB cord, evidence booklet, an instructions booklet, two stickers and a quick start guide. And of course the app you can download to your iphone to remotely control the features on the wristband.
How it all works
- Get a pavlok
- Choose the habit you want to break
- Start the self shock program
Every time you are doing a behavior you shouldn’t be such as nail biting, you or a friend can hit the button on the wristband or from the app on your iphone. The wristband administers a safe shock that is adjustable to your comfort level from a pinprick to strong as hell.
Sounds a bit strange right? So far, I have had to hit my lightning bolt button for nail biting 6 times today. I tend to bite my nails when I am working on my computer or driving. My husband caught me doing it the first time and hit the button. The next day, I caught myself nail biting and hit the button with no problem. Its not painful, its just uncomfortable. I did somehow manage to shock myself accidentally 2x while I was talking with my hands and resting one over the other here and there…. maybe this will keep me from waving my hands around like a lunatic when I am talking (I can’t help it, its in my Italian heritage, right along with talking obnoxiously loud!)
There you have it.
What is the 1 sure fire way to stop a bad habit?
*I am not sponsored or paid by the Pavlok company to endorse their products.