Habits or behavioral patterns are easily formed. They are often times not easy or quick to be broken and not always that simple to get the rid of. They develop over a period of time. Formed initially by our thought processes and patterns, they are eventually translated into words and subsequently our actions.
These are choices that we make each day. And unlike popular belief, habits are really not the result of a carefully planned decision making process. They are habits and they are things we can do without even thinking. They decide our character and then that character that developed fix the path to our destiny. The harsh reality, when calculated in terms of what value they bring to our lives, there is none! They are a waste of ones time and energy.
And without the realization of it, habits have the power to manipulate and control. The way that the brain have organized our thoughts and the way that we have set out our work routine, habits have an enormous impact on our health, productivity and they can even jeopardize ones health – physically and mentally.
SOME COMMONLY KNOWN BAD HABITS
- constant negative talk, whining and complaining
- obsessive compulsive shopping
- persistently late for work or appointments
- nail biting
- knuckle cracking
- late night eating or going to be right after eating
- chronic overeating
- constant hissing of teeth
- excessive drinking and substance abuse
The extent to which habits are destructive can be found in the words of Samuel Johnson – “The chains of habits are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
BREAKING THROUGH THE CORE OF BAD HABITS
Before we can effectively break through into the core of bad habits, it is important to note what they are and what may have caused them in the first place. Research has shown that they are caused primarily by stress and boredom. From my own personal experience however, I would add that bad habits tend to develop in our lives after very traumatic experiences – from as a child or as an adult.
It happened right after my painful separation and eventual divorce after being together for twenty one years [4 years courtship and 17 years of marriage] I recall turning to wines and other alcoholic beverages. I would often check the alcohol % thinking that if I go higher the next time, my pain would be relieved completely.
I began using substances such as Valium and Xanax. I began with 2mg Valium, then 5mg until 10mg was what it took to ‘put me down’ for a while. I was a full time Registered Nurse, so they were easy to access. Motrin and Panadol were my main additional substances to relieve me of my pain and my ‘depressed’ anxious state.
My bad habits grew worst as I turned to the wrong people and got into dysfunctional relationships in search of what I missed and longed for as a child from my father and then, from my husband when I got married [love, affection and acceptance] only to get rejection and abandonment.
BREAK HABITS, REBUILD AND TRANSFORM TO YOUR SPECIFICATIONS
We all have needs on one level or another. It is why habits develop in the first instance. Yes, they fill a need that we have. Breaking a bad habit that fills one need means replacing it with one good habit that fills the same need. It’s a process. It requires the right mindset. So here is how –
1.) Acknowledge that you have a bad habit – examine the ways that the bad habit is affecting your life and work on changing it. Seek assistance from a trusted source to do so if that’s what it takes to break it.
2.) Focus on breaking one habit at a time – working on more than one at a time could be counter productive and could mean that none get resolved. Commit, then master the art of making one really stick before moving on to the next. Flushing the pills like I did and making yourself accountable to the consequences is one great way to break free from the habit of substance abuse. Engage in exercise activities and start filling your mind with positive thoughts through inspirational books or music.
3.) Remove or distance yourself from the particular environment that is supporting the habit – eg. it would be difficult to break drinking habit if you hang with people that do, or you continually going to the parties or the club. Stay away from the places that trigger the bad habit. Remove alcoholic drinks them from your home also and commit to not buying them. Replace with more refreshing beverages such as mineral water, iced tea or club soda with squeeze of lemon. Going to the beach, the pool, and simply remedies such ginger tea and herbal teas are known to have relaxing and calming effects on the body and nervous system.
4.) Limit your interactions with people who encourage your bad habits – if the bad habit is at your workplace you may want to consider changing the time for your coffee or lunch breaks. You may also wish to consider changing your phone number and have limited access. Surround yourself with positive thinkers and people who live the way you desire to live.
5.) Increase the use of the “but” word to kill bad thoughts or negative self-talk – Anytime you feel the negative thinking cap coming on use the word “but” to bring out positive aspects. eg. “I have gained a few pounds, “but,” I see myself in great shape a few months from now.” Dump the food or the snacks that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Refrain from eating at places that serve fast foods.
6.) Plan to fall short of the mark – let’s face it, mistakes will happen. We slip back into old habits even in the midst of trying to break them. Don’t stay there and beat yourself up, but get up and try again until you succeed. Kill the habit of procrastinating by involving someone else to hold you accountable to completing what you started.
7.) Picture yourself winning – success is not an overnight thing. But if you can perceive it, or envision it, then that is faith of you overcoming. See yourself waking up early, beating the traffic to get to work or appointments early. See yourself dumping the cigarettes, jogging, buying healthy foods, and kicking the bad habit of spending on things that you really do not need.
8.) Keep it real and simple – limit your change process to one or two rules, not multiple rules that are harder to keep. Complex rules create headaches
9.) Surrender your life and everything to God in prayer
It is possible to break your bad habits one day at a time until success is achieved.
For more on breaking bad habits, read The Power Of Habit
OVER TO YOU… Do you know another method of how to break a habit? Add it as a comment below
photo by: martina photography