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Addicted to Yourself? C'mon, Get Over It!

August 2, 2007 By:
Rita Charleston, JE Feature
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According to Noah Blumenthal, most of the time people sincerely want to change. They want to be thinner, healthier, more considerate of others or more diligent. They want to be better parents, spouses or leaders. They just don't have a process to guide them through the necessary changes.

And that's where his new book, You're Addicted to You: Why It's So Hard to Change -- and What You Can Do About It, comes in.

Blumenthal, founder and president of Leading Principles, an executive coaching and consulting company, says, "It's not the lack of willpower that's the problem. The real problem is that we're so thoroughly conditioned to act in the old negative ways, even though we know they're harmful. In fact, the hold some of these behaviors have on us is so strong that they are essentially like addictions.

"And, over time, they've become so deeply ingrained in us that, like it or not, they have become a part of who we are. So in a very real sense, we're addicted to ourselves."

The idea for Blumenthal's book came about after he was working for a major company, and watched as the company started sending people off for courses in leadership training. However, those same people came back, according to the author, as if they were returning from a cult. Their eyes were glazed over, and they were convinced they were going to save the firm.

He recalls: "I watched this going on for weeks, but nobody changed or did anything differently. I believe they wanted to, but were incapable of changing their behavior once they got down to their day-to-day work. And then I saw the same attitude almost everywhere I looked; the same pattern of behavior both professionally and personally.

"People knew what they want to do differently, but were unable to change -- mainly because they may not have wanted change badly enough or had no approach that allows them to change with serious demands on their commitment."

And so, Blumenthal set out to fix that. In his book, he outlines his "Circles of Strength" approach -- a three-stage strategy of: raising awareness; building support; and taking action.

Properly applied, he says this system can help conquer and control damaging behaviors like anger, workaholism, risk aversion, negativity, overeating, under exercising and more.

"One of the first is to identify your addictions, realize the consequences and make powerful commitments," explains Blumenthal. "The second three steps under the category of 'building support' is finding help, inviting support and maintaining effective support. And last, but by no means least, is preparing yourself, acting in the moment and assessing your progress."

For example, he continues, when finding those who would support you in changing your addictions to food, he examines how to help find people who will encourage you in your commitment and weed out those who will make it easy, even encourage you to engage in your self-addictions.

Blumenthal, who studied psychology as an undergraduate student at Brandeis University and organizational psychology as a graduate student at Columbia University, delivers talks on changing ingrained behaviors, building executive teams and developing effective interpersonal relationships.

His experiences in developing techniques to break destructive, self-addictive behaviors have left him with a powerful belief that people are better than their actions.

Blumenthal, who explains that he was brought up a Reform Jew and is very spiritual, has received many endorsements for his book; one he is very proud of comes from Rabbi Mark Covitz of Congregation Beth Yam in Hilton Head, S.C.

Covitz writes, "Noah Blumenthal has crafted a book for self-improvement that seems to have been personally written for each of its readers. It is an excellent guide toward the achievement of a happy life and the rediscovery of the divinity that resides in all of us." 

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