King Solomon is the one who said ‘’There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’’ That to me is a portrait of a beneficial relationship. We all need friends like that. Some other ‘’stickings’’ are however anything but helpful. Think of the bad habits that have stuck like glue to some of us, right from childhood. I believe we all have one or more limiting or out rightly destructive habits that we need separation from: gossiping, procrastinating, giving excuses for shoddy work done, feasting on pornography, living off junk food, overspending, the list is endless. These are just some of the numerous habits we keep indulging in, which are detrimental to our physical, mental and spiritual well being. How do we break free from these sticky negative patterns? Let me share with you six tips (call them six steps, if you will) that I have found useful in snuffing life out of ingrained bad habits.
TAKE AN HONEST SELF-ASSESSMENT
In overcoming negative behavioural patterns, it is important we tell ourselves the truth. We need to call a spade a spade, not a cutlass, an axe, a hammer, but a spade! In taking an honest self-assessment, we may have to ask the people closest to us to give us their candid appraisals of our behaviours, attitudes and how we generally come across to them. Where breaking bad habits is concerned, I believe being brutally honest with ourselves is the first step towards victory. Living in denial of the true state of things shows that we are not ready to admit that we have a problem and that we need help.
IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS
Once we pinpoint what constitutes consistent bad behaviour in our lives, we need to discover the prompters and underlying triggers for these behaviours. If you are given to overspending, for example, could it be that you indulge in this habit when in the company of some friends who believe every dime earned is meant to be spent? Could it be that there are some people (the Joneses!) you secretly seek to impress and keep up with? Do you have some long-standing money mind-sets that make you spend, spend and spend some more? At some point, we all need to ask ourselves: why do I do the things I do? What makes me act (or not act) in certain ways? What triggers some particular habits, patterns, attitudes and reactions in me? Once we identify our bad habit triggers, we stand a good chance of coming up with a plan that would address them effectively.
I strongly believe that life is full of alternatives. More often than not, we have alternatives that we can choose from: alternative foods, clothes, schools, friends, jobs, you name it. So how does having alternatives play out in the arena of overcoming bad habits?
Since we have the power of choice, we can often choose our behaviour. A person who has identified gossiping as a major negative behavioural pattern can choose to walk away from a gathering gradually beckoning on their tell-tale tendencies. Such a person can choose to keep mute, change the topic or clearly express their disinterest in pursuing a particular line of conversation. A junk foodie can start reaching out for apples and berries when the temptation to take a doughnut hits. Although it may be difficult initially, consistently choosing wholesome alternatives will gradually cripple bad habits and reinforce positive ones. Let us remember that alternatives are always available; we just need to look out for them.
To be continued…..
Written by Theodora.