Friday, February 1, 2008

Breaking Bad Habits

The vast majority of our behaviours are based on habits that are formed in order to fill a need. That need for instance may be to relieve anxiety, to feel loved, to allow tension to escape etc.

Habits are actions that we perform so often that they become involuntary and we don’t even recognise that we are doing them. These habits reside in our subconscious and are extremely powerful in influencing the actions that we take. Habits become a problem when they do not serve us well and have a negative consequence. You will generally know when a habit is bad as it will leave you feeling unhappy with yourself.

Many people attempt to break their bad habits often in most cases without success.

Breaking bad habits involves discipline, desire and consistent effort and I believe the lack of these makes people fail.

Remember that a habit is created by repetitious behaviour over a period of time, sometimes over many years. It takes work to break them and does not happen over night.

So how can we break these bad habits?

Firstly you need to identify the habits that do not support you. What are the habits that are having a negative impact on your life?

Secondly, make a firm decision to remove the habits from your life.

As I mentioned previously one of the important ingredients in breaking a bad habit is desire. As humans we are motivated either by the avoidance of pain or the gaining of pleasure.

You need to take a serious and honest look at the impact that the habit has caused and will continue to cause in your life. Get out a few sheets of paper and write down a list of all of the negative consequences that the habit has created in the past and will create in the future. The more you can heighten the negatives the better. After completing the list, read it several times and continue to read it at least once every day to remind yourself of the need to eliminate the habit from your life.

Next write down on a piece of paper all of the benefits to you and others that will happen when you rid yourself of the habit. Again, read the list regularly.

If you are the type of person who is motivated more by avoiding pain I would suggest that you read the list of negative consequences more often as this will increase your motivation and desire to change and remove the habit. Needless to say if you are motivated more by gaining pleasure read the list of positive gains more often.

Finally, it is imperative that you replace the old habit with a new habit that will serve you well. This is a very important step in the process as you need to override the old habit in your subconscious otherwise it will be triggered again when a need arises. It is very similar to information on a computer hard drive. You need to erase the previous instructions and programming on the drive and replace it with a new set of instructions. Most people fail in breaking bad habits because they do not understand the power and workings of the subconscious mind.

It all comes down to making deliberate choices. You need to understand that your choices have a consequence. I trust that this article will steer you in the direction to making the choices that provide you with lasting happiness.

Author: Steve Decker – Life Management & Success Coach

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