March tip 2013
Are you stuck in an unhealthy relationship or situation and want to get out? Are you tired of wasting your time, money and energy on activities or people? Are you ready to remove this bad habit in order to be happier? Read this article and learn strategies that will help you to do exactly that. This month, I invite you to become a detective to discover a bad habit that you wish to eliminate and an architect to create a new habit to replace it and improve your life. In order to this, you will want to do the following:

1. Make a List. The first thing you want to do is name the habit that you wish to change and assess what the conduct costs you. On a piece of paper, write an inventory of your bad habits and choose one habit that prevents you from feeling empowered and in control of your life. Identify thoughts, feelings, and people that cause stress and might trigger your unwanted behavior. List the benefits and reasons that you have decided to remove the old habit, include the way that it affects your life and relationships. Is it a major focus in your thoughts? Does it make it hard to concentrate or be available to others? Is it affecting your health? Has your habit turned you into someone you do not want to be? Has it turned off your friends? Once you have written this list; refer to it often.

2. Find a Replacement. A simple way to break an old habit is to establish a new one. Decide on a new pleasing alternative or distraction to motivate you to replace the old behavior. There is a saying, “Old habits Die hard”. Recognize that familiarity may undermine you. Learn to say a compassionate “no” to that old habit when it entices you and quickly focus on the new custom that you find satisfying and enjoyable. Choose a replacement that will fill your life with people and activities that please you. Once you find a replacement that distracts or makes you happy, do it often in order to nourish yourself. You will find the old routine easier to resist.

3. Silence Negative Self talk. Pay attention to the negative chorus within because judgment is a show stopper. When you focus on your setbacks, you become discouraged and it can defeat you. Acceptance is the fastest way to make change. Note the setback and let it go. Talk gently to yourself as you acknowledge your imperfection or the mistake; explore the reason then move on to the present and continue your new behavior. Focus on what you have control of now and the substitutes that you have decided to use. When you experiment with new ways of behaving you will find a synergistic loop occurs; the more you feel good about your new behavior, the more you want to feel good and the more you will continue to do the new habit.

4. Choose When You Will Change. While it is rarely convenient to change a habit --work is stressful, the kids are demanding, it’s the holidays -- determine if you are just making excuses. A new habit will have better chance of being successfully established when you implement change during a relatively peaceful time. But let’s face it, “Life can get in the way” and we cannot always have low stress. In my case, I find it more effective to make the decision to alter my behavior and just do it. For other people planned baby steps work better. Whatever pace or strategy works best for you, once you decide to remove a habit, write a contract with yourself, describe the habit you intend to change, include the start date for the change and make it non-negotiable.

5. Track Your Progress. Each day review in a journal or in your head the progress that you have made. Reflect on your thoughts and behavior. Did you think about the old habit? If so, when and why? Did you slip? If so, what was the trigger? I tend to revert to an old habit when I am bored or in a bad mood. I call it “picking a scab”. As soon as I recognize that I have slipped into an undesirable habit, I silence judgment and focus on the new, preplanned distraction. By keeping tabs on your actions, you can be alert to the triggers that encourage the unwanted habit and head it off before it begins. Letting others know that you have decided to change might also be helpful as a way to stay on track. When I decided to give up cursing, I let everyone know that I would no longer have a “potty” mouth. I would actually self correct in the middle of a conversation. But if you are private person it is fine to keep your evolution to yourself.

Remove a bad habit this month! If you are you tired of continuing the same non-productive behavior, make the decision today to change. Identify the habit that is getting in your way, select a substitute to replace it and begin to using the new healthy behavior. You deserve to grow more fully into the person you are meant to be. Once you remove a bad habit from your life and replace it with something healthy, you will notice that you have more time and energy to live the life you desire.

Author's Bio: 

JoAnne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who believes in the connection of emotional health to body, mind and spirit. She has integrated clinical counseling with holistic techniques and has formalized her knowledge by creating the Journey Back to Self program which is available in a recorded CD. In addition, in order to further assist others, she writes self improvement tips that you can find on Facebook or her website, www.TryaNewPerspective.com