“They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” ~Confucius
Many a times change comes easily. Some things are just easy to change. Then, there are deeply ingrained habits that are much more difficult to change. You try to change those habits, and you succeed for a while, then you stop and end up feeling like a failure.
Why are habits(especially negative ones) so difficult to change?
When you are changing a habit, you are really making a “break” from the ways of your past. You are deciding that you no longer want to feel or behave in the same automatic ways that you have become accustomed to. Changing habits requires more than just willpower alone.
Below is a five step strategy to help you overcome unwanted habits in your life and replace them with positive habits that will make your life better.
How to Replace Unwanted Habits with Positive Ones – 5 Step Strategy
1. Have Meaningful Goals
Undoubtedly, the best ways to give your self the necessary incentive to break a habit is to think about its drawbacks, and then compare them with the benefits of being rid of the habit. You must decide that changing your habit is a worthy goal, and worth the effort involved.
2. Know the Underlying Purpose Behind Your Habit
Although you want to get rid of a habit that seems destructive or limiting, recognize that your habit serves a purpose. There are many reasons for why we do the things we do. Bring compassion to yourself and review your negative habit. Even though the outcome of your habit is no longer desirable, realize that the underlying reason for your habit is important. For example, overeating may help provide a sense of calm, emotional eating may help push down emotions that you don’t want to deal with, or nail biting may help alleviate stress. Having a sense of inner calm, peace, or comfort are important things. Knowing you want these things, helps you replace those negative habits with positive ones.
3. Go ahead and Design a New Habit
Now that you know some of the benefits beneath your habit, spend some time identifying a new habit that will be at least as effective as or more effective than the one you are giving up. For example, suppose you have decided to give up eating dessert every night. Instead of spending all your energy and willpower forcing yourself to avoid dessert, realize the benefits your evening dessert brings to you. Then make a list of new habits that would offer those benefits in a new and more beneficial way. If your dessert is an attempt to provide comfort and relaxation, decide what other activities might provide those same benefits in a manner that was even more desirable. You might add walking, yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques to your evening routine to bring you relaxation and reduce stress. In addition, you might decide to read and/or take an evening bath to provide comfort and curb cravings.
4. Lets Create an Action Plan
Create an outline of how you are going to implement your new positive habit. If your new habit is about adding exercise to your evening routine, then decide what type of exercise interests you, where you would perform that exercise, what type of clothing or equipment you would need, and exactly what time and days you would exercise. There’s a saying in the motivational world that our priorities are shown where we spend our time and money. If developing a new habit is your priority, find a way to place it on your calendar, and if necessary, spend money and time on your new habit.
5. And finally, The Heart of Change
Bring respect to your journey by realizing that changing a habit is not easy. So, before jumping into change, ask yourself if you are psychologically determined to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to change your habit. In addition, make sure your heart is in it. It’s not enough to think you “should” be changing your bad habits. Long-term motivation is easier to maintain when you realize in your heart that you want change because you want to feel differently. The heart of change is in your emotions. Enthusiasm, excitement, and pride spur action. What gets you excited about your change?
Change doesn’t happen instantly.
Success comes from getting insights about why you do what you do, and then practicing new habits.
Adopt a positive attitude and as you stick with your plan, you will experience yourself as a positively different person.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you want to change any unwanted habits from yourself? Do you have any strategies of your own that you have tried successfully? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor
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