We all engage in forms of habitual behavior. Unfortunately, the ritualized, unthinking things we do, create impediments to change and growth.
Instead of being robotic in our daily lives, we need to get outside our comfort zones and act consciously. Confronting what we want to change or achieve is the only path to success and improvement. We simply cannot be on auto pilot. We must be fully engaged.
Habits are nothing but repetitive behaviors that become automatic. You don’t think about it, you just do it, like a robot. Unfortunately, there is a certain comfort in the practice of these repetitive actions, making it more difficult to get out of the ‘rut’.
In most cases though, it is a false sense of comfort, offering you a cloak of normality, even when the behavior is generally considered abnormal.
They trap you into behaviors that hold you down and are self-destructive.
The good news is there are strategies to change your habits and get on your way to happiness. Break free and you will achieve what you want your life to be.
Triggers and Cues
We receive many cues during our daily lives. These cues or ‘set ups’ trigger responses. An example is when we go to bed, where most of us prepare by brushing our teeth.
The cue to retire for the night triggers the response. We don’t think about brushing our teeth, we just do it. Nothing prevents us from brushing our teeth after eating our last meal or snack of the day but this action is cued before going to sleep.
Actions to Take
In order to achieve meaningful change, we must alter the reactions to the cues in our lives. Here are the steps –
- Identify a behavior you want to change.
- Identify the cue for the bad behavior.
- Find a response that results in achieving your goal.
- Commit to it by writing down a planned response.
- Think about & read your plan for a day or two.
- Engage in the new behavior for 30 straight days, it will become a habit and you won’t have to think about it!
Identifying your triggers or cues are the key. What situations trigger your current habit?
You want to lose weight and identify that you are snacking after dinner as you watch TV. Instead of eating, replace it with a cup of tea, a diet soda or heaven forbid, even exercising. Or brush your teeth right after dinner, which worked for me.
Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and write them in your plan. Then replace the habit with a new response to the trigger. It really is that simple!
Have strategies to defeat an urge to fall back into a bad habit. Urges are going to come — they’re inevitable and they’re strong.
However, they are also temporary and beatable. Urges generally last a minute or so and come in degrees of strength.
You need to ‘defend’ yourself, ride it out and the urge will disappear. Some strategies for making it through an urge: deep breathing, self-massage, eat something healthy and calorically light, take a walk, exercising, drink a glass of water, call a friend, post about it in a support forum…
I urge you to give this universally successful method a chance today. It’s worked for me and it will work for you.