I don’t really know if I am qualified to write about bad habits, because I don’t really have any. Lol. Or maybe pretending to be perfect is the worst habit ever. Anyhow, I am very proud that I lost my worst habit a long time ago – smoking. After that all my little bad habits seem like a piece of cake. This does not make them any less aggravating, but fixing them is less urgent – at least this is what I make myself believe. Today is the day of starting another self-discovery trip and finally confessing to my imperfections. You can also take the first step in the fight with your own demons.
Here are the 3 steps for working on your bad habits:
1. Discover your bad habits and decide on the one you want to encounter and hopefully make disappear. Think about what you are struggling with in life where you show a consistent behavior pattern that is either unhealthy, makes you unhappy, forms a threat to yourself and/or others or is simply annoying and makes no sense at all. This can be habits such as smoking or drinking too much, going to bed without brushing your teeth, uncontrolled cussing in the car or getting defensive when you feel somebody is questioning you. There is a long list of bad habits we all have all developed over the years and maybe it is time to pick one of them and send it off for good.
2. After you have decided which of your bad habits is the “one” you are struggling with most, it is time to give it a closer look. This is when self-observation is needed, in other words truly looking deeply into the matter. What are your feelings and thoughts when you surrender to that habit? Which situations trigger this bad habit? How often does it show up and how long does it last? How do you feel after you have allowed your bad habit to appear and take the lead? Observe any sensations in your body and find out what is happening inside of you when your particular bad habit expresses itself. This observation period should last as long as you need to discover a pattern, usually at least three weeks, but this might take even longer.
Please take notes every day and write down what you have discovered. (A daily journal would be perfect!). Make it a daily practice, because this is the best way to catch every single detail of what your bad habit is doing to you. When does the bad habit show and what is the real issue behind it?
Just as an example, I would like to refer to my smoking habit. When I was a young woman, smoking helped me overcome insecurity and a lack of confidence. I felt more mature while I was smoking and I had something to hold on to when I was in public, namely, the cigarette. As silly as it sounds, but after I quit smoking basically overnight, my self-confidence grew. Knowing that I didn’t need to hold onto anything when in public made me so much stronger. I learned to rely on my own inner strength. What a discovery for me at that time! The effects are lasting and I cannot even remember what it felt like to smoke.
3. Self-observation is the key to change. Once you know who your enemies are, you can successfully beat them. Once you know what your particular bad habit is based on you can change it. Put your awareness into a new behavior pattern whenever something triggers your old self. For example, when you feel sad, or just slightly depressed or exhausted and you usually grab a chocolate bar in that situation, tackle the problem now differently. You learned through self-observation which situations get you into trouble, because after you ate a whole chocolate bar you usually felt even worse. Now you change the pattern by doing something different. You chose whatever you want this “different” behavior to be. It can be exercise, eating fruit, getting satisfaction by anything else but chocolate.
Don’t expect to feel good about it right away. There is suffering involved – No pain no gain. Nevertheless the more often you exchange the old pattern for a new pattern, the faster it will turn into a new habit. Again it takes from three weeks up to several months to change a bad habit into a good one, but it will happen. Remember your bad habit did not develop overnight and it can take as much time for it to disappear as it took to develop.
Sounds like magic, but it works. For more details please read the attached link on how to form a new habit. http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php.
Does all this sound like fun or do you prefer to live with your little or big imperfections? It’s up to you to decide what needs change, but knowing that you are not stuck with whatever bad habit you are carrying around is empowering. Yes, I can skip my nighttime yogurt in bed after I brushed my teeth, but I don’t want to. On the other hand, I really want to stop cussing in the car. My son offered to start a new swear jar since the last one is now filled with coins to the top. I love my little imperfections, but some are absolutely useless and need to be fought. What about you? Please share your story with us and tell us how you are breaking your bad habits.
Be a woman and act like one.