How to Replace a Negative Habit in 5 Steps
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Posted by: Rhette Baughman
Negative habits act as hidden road blocks in your life, preventing you from achieving your maximum success in all areas of your life. They affect your physical, mental and emotional balance and health.
Your habits are a direct result of your beliefs and once in place serve to reaffirm them. Throughout your life, you collect evidence proving yourself right!
Except habits inherent to your survival (breathing, heart beating, etc.), all your habits have been learned. And everything that has been learned can be unlearned! You can unlearn those that no longer serve you.
You don’t get rid of a bad habit but rather replace it by one that supports you.
Habits are supposed to serve you. Anytime you have to exert an enormous amount of will power to do something positive that you know serves your intended outcome, there is a major conflict between your actions and your core beliefs. For example: stop smoking, use that gym membership, stop constant snacking, etc…
Make a list of the habits that no longer serve you.
What are their benefits?
Habits, positive or negative, always contain satisfying consequences: ‘I smoke to manage stress’; ‘I don’t go to the gym so I keep my extra weight as my protective armor’; etc. So be honest with yourself and recognize the needs they address.
What is your motivation for change?
It is extremely important to be clear on your motivation for change as it will be the stimulus to release that habit. It really means yours, not your spouse’, your parents’, your children’, your friends’, etc, but YOURS: ‘I want to be healthier’, etc.
Get a plan!
You need to plan ahead of time how you will respond when the need, that prompts the negative habit, arises. For example, if you smoke when you get stressed, come up with a realistic and feasible way to deal with stress. Maybe getting away from your desk for a few minutes, do a breathing exercise, etc…
Shuffle your routines.
All your habits are run by the subconscious part of your mind. You don’t even think about them. Take for example your morning routine: wake up, get your coffee, take a shower, get dressed, etc… going through the motions without any conscious involvement on your part. Shake it up! Take your shower first, and get your coffee next. This will create a new awareness and mindfulness which, if practiced, will enable you to better chose your response when a need arises.
Get a support group.
How often have you signed up for this new gym membership or this new meal program or quit smoking…keeping it to yourself so no one will know if you do not reach your goal? Get a buddy! Pair up with someone to do it together and keep each other motivated and accountable…or someone you can call for moral support when you want to give up.
Rewire your brain through suggestions.
You can use suggestions aka guided imagery, even your own, to reframe your mind and implement a new habit and behavior. Suggestions act as a bridge between the mind and the body. The goal here is to create a complete internal sensory experience of your goal that duplicates reality involving all of the five senses. Feel yourself free of cigarette, see your body 2 sizes down, etc. The more real the suggestion is imagined, the more powerful the experience, because the brain does not distinguish between the two. It experiences the suggestions as the reality, unbound to time.
When learning new skills or habits, our brain undergoes massive changes physically constructed. Neural pathways i.e. new neurons and synapses connections are built to accommodate and automate the billions of learned associations under behavioral control. Every time we reactivate a circuit, synaptic efficiency increases, and connections become more durable and easier to reactivate. Whenever we do specific tasks over and over again, they take up less of your brain power over time.
And that's pretty amazing, as this is the basis for a huge opportunity to change your behavior for the better. You can harness the brain's plasticity by training your brain to make positive patterns more automatic.
Author: Carine Dieudé, C.Ht., Biostress Imagery LLC, www.biostressimagery.com
Photo credit: WELS.net via photopin cc