Making and breaking habits is hard work. Knowingly or unknowingly, much of our lives operate from the habits we have chosen. How we think, eat, exercise, inter-relate or work are examples of established habits.
How do we strengthen good habits and interrupt unwanted habits?
C. S. Lewis once said; “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.”
Our choices lead to habits, and habits can either transform us or cause us to miss opportunities by getting stuck on a hamster wheel.
In forming new habits or in breaking old ones, a good strategy is needed. Here are a few tips:
- Know your unmet needs. Understanding the root cause of a wanted or unwanted habit is key. Counseling may help in discovering the need driving repeated patterns.
- Identify what makes you enter into the bad habit. What is the trigger (or triggers)? For example, if isolation or loneliness leads to making poor relationship decisions or skipping lunch creates a pattern of overeating throughout the evening, these triggers should be assessed and addressed. A therapist can help unpack the triggers and collaborate on alternative choices.
- Self-talk can make or break a habit. Everyone does it. However, how we talk to ourselves directs our steps. Words affect the way we think, feel, and behave. Speaking negatively about oneself can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, practicing positive self-talk often brings success. Many sports figures implement self-encouraging phrases to win the battle of the mind and, consequently, their sport. Thoughts about personal worth can alter the course of a person’s patterns. “I am a failure” versus “I learned well from that valuable mistake” produce dramatically different outcomes. The more positively a person phrases the inner dialog, the more successful he or she will be in avoiding the hamster wheel and meeting goals.
- Lastly, community and accountability figures are important in sealing success. With whom we interact can encourage positive self-talk, give healthy counsel, and save us from personal blind spots. Strategic relationships assist in helping a person achieve the kind of life one desires.
Written By: Sheri Schulze, LAPC