Letting go of the past is not always easy. Two women with different stories sit in my therapy office. They represent many who struggle with shame. One describes how premarital sexual memories haunt her in the bedroom with her husband. She has tried to put those images out of her head, but they become intrusive […]
Do you bite your nails, squeeze the toothpaste in the middle or buy more gourmet coffee than you can afford? These, and a number of bad habits, can be annoying to you and those you love. It may be time to kick that bad habit
Begin by paying close attention to the urge you feel when you want to engage in your habit. Then see if you can substitute new behavior for the habit. For example, instead of biting your nails, move your hands through a book or squeeze a stress ball. Instead of buying a coffee, drive down a street that does have the coffee shop.
Sometimes it helps to keep a diary, or a make a chart and write down each time you feel the urge to engage in the habit—where are you, what were you doing—the diary or chart makes you more aware of the cue or trigger to engage in that habit.
Mentally, change your thinking from “I can’t” to “I don’t.” I don’t bite my nails or I don’t waste money on gourmet coffee. This “I don’t” thinking psychologically empowers you to make the change as part of your identity.
Next, instead of trying to change a habit all at once, try small steps of change. I did this years ago when I wanted to cut fat and sugar out of my diet. I said, “I don’t do high calorie coffees. I could, but I don’t,” and so I started ordering my coffee black or with nonfat milk. The idea was to commit to a small step. But for the small step to work, it had to feel easy enough to do so I would be successful. And unloading fat and sugar from my coffee was an easy step towards better eating.
Commit to change. Identify the change that is desired. Then, as we replace or substitute something positive for the negative, we also consider how that fits into our identity and how it gets us the things we desire. For example, we may desire to relax, but overspending also puts us in debt and makes us owe people money. So how can we relax in ways that are healthy? Substitute better relaxation methods for overspending.
Change is rarely a straight line. Usually there are bumps along the way and you readjust as you go. But 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”
Bad habit? Begin to kick it now!