If you are anything like me, you might have a few bad habits. And if you don’t have any…. well… I am intrigued! I could probably write you a list a mile long of all the things I do that I consider to be *less than desirable*. Let’s see…
biting my nails
checking my phone way too often
humming to myself
chocolate… (dark is my fave, btw)
**Trust me, there’s more.
Did I get you thinking about some of the bad habits you struggle with? Maybe you could do without a few of them?
Getting rid of them seems next to impossible though… am I right? That is why they are called habits — they are habitual and difficult to break. (Other synonyms include: obsession, pattern, routine, addiction, fixation, rut… you catch my drift.) I start watching an episode of *Teen Mom* and next thing I know, I’ve got a finger in my mouth, trying to deal with a hangnail. It is really hard to get rid of things that become second nature.
But that’s the trick.
Huh? Trick? WHAT is the trick?
You cannot just get rid of them…. at least, not without replacing them with something else. Because habits are usually brought on by something else, like stress. They start small and then, somewhere along the way, become routine. They are coping methods that can quickly take the place of whatever it is you need to deal with.
I have found that the trick is to REPLACE a bad habit. Find a more healthy behaviour to take the place of that habit. Think about why you have the habit in the first place. Most issues are usually stress related. Others can be to ward off self-criticism or painful memories.
So, here’s your homework:
- Make a list of the things you want to change — the *bad* habits. The ones that really irk you every time you catch yourself doing them. Do you run for the fridge when you feel bad? Do you put things off and, as a result, feel completely weighed down by them? Do you have a habit that is brought on by anxiety — twirling/pulling hair, clenching your jaw, chewing on a pencil, etc.?
- Take some time to really think about each one individually. Why do you repeatedly turn to it? Maybe you do not even realize what the reason is yet. (I found that my nail biting habit was less likely to occur when I eliminated certain stressors in my life. And the food addictions, like chocolat… its better for me in French, right?, usually become more intense when I have to deal with an emotional conflict.)
- Be intentional about finding a suitable replacement for your habits. Maybe the gym or writing would help to relieve stress. Dealing with emotional pain is a place to start for others — sometimes it is pretty easy to figure out and sometimes it is rooted pretty deep. You may need to talk to someone about what you are dealing with.
It will take some work. But you can do it. Your health is a balance of everything in your life, and the mental/emotional stuff ties very closely to the physical. If you want to be successful at any sort of life change, you need to deal with your *stuff*.
I will leave you with one final question: What could you do, or what might improve, if you could get rid of just one of your bad habits?
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