Habits can make or break us. What may seem like harmless acts can turn out to be pretty bad for us. You think of giving up on them one day and the next day; there you are doing it all over again, only to regret it more. The more you try to give them up, the more it frustrates you because you just can’t bring yourself up to it. The reason you fail every time is because you have not been following the right method until now. To give up on a bad habit, try my proven 3-step process.
Find out the trigger; the stimulation which prompts you to act on your bad habit. It could be anything. An example can be a television ad which makes you want to rush to the fridge and grab onto that chocolate spread. Another could be when your husband leaves the toilet seat up your blood starts to curdle and steam sprays out your ears. It could be just about anything. Maybe you like the telephone in the lounge to be on the side table and if it gets dislocated or moved to somewhere other than the table your bad habit is triggered. You hurdle over couches and push children aside to urgently replace the telephone in the sacred spot.
Your response is the manner in which you react to the trigger. Referring to the example above, the usual response to the dislocated phone would be to shout, get angry, and panic until it’s replaced in it’s intended spot. You are just tired of being the only one who understands the world may end if the phone is not in its correct location. Nobody else seems to comprehend that the entire room looks unorganized and the call from Publisher’s Clearing House, telling you about your million dollar win, might be missed. The fact that your message is not getting across to the others around you infuriates you even more. But it will continue being so as long as you do not change the way you respond.
If you are not happy with your current reaction to a situation, consciously change the way you respond. Basically, substitute the bad habit with behavior that serves you better. Instead of getting angry, smile, laugh or find a way that would get the message across without you losing your temper over it. For example, if your husband (sorry to pick on the men today!) consistently leaves their towel on the ground, in the past it may have triggered your urge to chuck a shoe at his head.
Try replacing that behavior with a new, more positive one. Let’s say you decide the next time he leaves the towel on the ground you are going to put a fake rat in his shoes, as a joke. You know rats freak him out. Therefore it will get his attention, and you can get a giant laugh out of it! Just make sure he’s in on the prank. Tell him why you did it and that the rat will continue to be found in unexpected locations for every time the towel is not hung up. [Side note: if your partner is not good with jokes you should probably explore other options.] Changing your responsive strategy will get the message across, and all involved will be happier.
The third step in this strategy is to have a reward for each time you use the intended behavior. Laughter and less stress were the positive reward in the rat example. If you want to stop eating chocolate every time an ad comes on TV, replace it with a new response, and the reward may be that you feel healthier and empowered.
Use your smart phone to help you. Type in the 3-step process you want to incorporate to act as a reminder. Include your cue/trigger, followed by the new behavior, and note what the reward is.
So next time when you are getting angry over a recognized cue, stop before you react and take a second to consciously replace the old behavior with your more positive response. Identify the trigger and write down your strategy of how you will replace the behavior. You will experience a lot more peace within you, your environment and others around you.
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