It is said the only way you can change bad habits is by acknowledging them and moving forward slowly to change them. I work with a lot of clients who come back to me again and again doing the same things over and over again. This can range from making bad choices and getting themselves into similar bad situations over and over again. Or it can mean procrastinating on things that need to be done. I’ve worked with my clients in numerous ways to help them see what really is at the core of their bad habits and bust through it changing things permanently and for the better. Below are ways I have helped my clients with bad habit breakthroughs.
NLP – Neuro-linuistic programming is one of the best ways to bust bad habits by breaking through the white noise of all the overthinking going on in your head, instead NLP works directly with your nervous system to make permanent change. It works with self-hypnosis and can be a real game changer for the self-beliefs that are so deep rooted in us since childhood that all we can do is make decisions and actions out of fear. One big thing about NLP is to work to separate the action you are doing with the being of who you are. For example, you can say “I am a procrastinator” or you can say “I sometimes have a tendency to procrastinate”. One is taking the action out of the being and allowing you to focus on the habit as something you do from time to time, not identifying it with who you are at your core.
Inner Voice – We’ve all been told we have an inner voice inside of us. The problem is that sometimes that inner voice is helpful, but more times than not it isn’t helpful at all and all it can do is stop us from going after what we truly want. When we grow up things happen to us that shape our world as being safe and unsafe. If you’ve ever felt threatened (this can be a psychological threat too) it goes into protection mode. So for example, as a child if you painted a picture and everyone in class told it was bad you might never try again. Your inner voice is trying to protect you from rejection, but as you and I know rejection can be a good thing as it forces you out of your comfort zone to try something new so you do succeed. One way to silence this voice is by journaling and writing as though you are talking to that inner voice. Imagine that voice as you as a small child and ask that voice what it is afraid of. Once you start writing this exercise might bring up more than you bargained for and will start to show you some hidden fears or expectations inside you that are keeping you stuck.
30 Days – They say it takes 30 days to break a habit, so one way to break the bad habits is to force your way through the worst of it the first 30 days. One way to do this is enlist friends and family to help. If you want to eat right and exercise more and are addicted to food you can challenge yourself to pay money to friends and family every time you eat junk food. After the 30 days you should feel good about how you’ve been able to break the habit, and then see where it goes from there.
Mindful Motivation – You want to break a bad habit, but why? We are really only motivated by one thing, how you feel. But it isn’t as simple as that. Sometimes even if a habit is bad for us, we are motivated by the attachment that it provides for us. Let’s say you started smoking because you saw your dad smoking. You might continue to smoke because you feel psychologically it’s the only connection you have with your dad. So one thing to really look at is the good and bad motivators. Why do you want something? What will it actually give you. Remember happiness is a state of mind you can achieve at anytime with the right feelings. So what’s the real feeling behind what you want? Are you looking to feel loved, validated, wanted? Find the feeling and you’ll get motivated as long as the feeling is strong enough and something you actually want.
Changing habits can be tricky business and it isn’t always easy. One thing to constantly practice is self-love. Some days you might fail, and not break the habit. Other days you’ll break your habits and maybe even do so for weeks. The idea is to have more of one than the other. If you can win the battle more days than others you’re doing a good job.