As I’m sure you know, bad habits are formed as a way to cope with negative emotions.
You feel sad, and so you overeat, or you get drunk, or you gamble away your paycheck. But this doesn’t have to be, you can learn to cope with your emotions in a healthy way, and this brief article will show you how.
First Things First
Note: The techniques in this article will only work if you are legitimately ready to break the habit. And by “ready to break the habit,” I mean that you have a compelling reason to break the habit; I don’t mean to imply that you “feel” like breaking the habit, because my guess is, you probably don’t.
You see, without a compelling reason to break the habit there will not be sufficient motivation to carry out the very simple steps in this article.
Here are some “compelling reasons:”
- This habit is ruining my life
- This habit is ruining my marriage
- This habit is ruining my health
- This habit is ruining my finances
- This habit has the potential to “ruin” my life or marriage, if I’m ever caught
Anyone of these will do!
How do You Define a Bad Habit
As mentioned earlier, bad habits are developed to cope with negative emotions. What makes a habit “bad,” are the negative consequences associated with performing the habit compulsively. Bad habits are unhealthy ways to cope with negative emotions.
Why Did You Develop these Bad Habits?
More than likely, as a child or a teenager you were not given the proper amount of love, affection, or attention (and the truth is…this applies to almost every person), and so in order to balance those feelings of loneliness, unhappiness, boredom, etc., you over-ate, as an example.
Eating or drinking alcohol made you feel better, and so every time you were lonely or bored, you gave into your compulsion, because it momentarily satiated your inner child, and it made you feel “good;” for the moment your needs were satisfied.
But now you are grown, and you’re still using these bad habits as a way to cope with your life…and the habit is ruining your life, or it is pregnant with the potential to ruin your life. You are using a child’s coping mechanism to live in an adult world, and it just doesn’t work. You’re trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
So maybe your parents or caretakers didn’t give you the proper attention you needed, it’s okay, they did the best they could with the knowledge that they had, you won’t be a perfect parent either. Let’s not let their shortcomings dictate how your future plays out, you’re a “big” girl or a “big” boy now, it’s time to act like it. And here’s how you do it.
Turn on the Lights
You have to turn on the lights and see who’s screaming at you; who’s pressuring you to go to the casino, to pull into that fast food restaurant, to get another drink, to eat that cookie. Who is the person that’s screaming, kicking and acting like a child, forcing you to do what you don’t want to do!
Let’s expose this person, because therein lies your freedom.
Close your eyes with me and imagine you’re in a dark room, and that familiar pressure begins to mount: “Let’s eat something that’s not good for us, we deserve a break, we’ve had a long hard day, just one more time, we’ll start our new diet on Monday, let’s have fun until then, no one will know.”
Now…really feel the pressure of this situation, feel the darkness of the room, hear the seductive voice. And now, turn on the lights! When you turn on the lights, what you will see is just a kid, or a teenager, that looks just like you; perhaps a little scrawny and under weight because his needs were never properly taken care of, but you’ll see a kid that sounds like you, because it’s a version of you that never grew up.
This lonely child is trying to be satisfied, by that which cannot satisfy; this child is desperately trying to be satiated by that which is making your life hell.
But it’s just a child. You see, only a child thinks that a hamburger can solve their problems, only a child; only a child thinks that happiness can be found in a bottle, only a child thinks that gambling away your living is a sound investment strategy. ONLY A CHILD!!! But you are not a child!
So you must talk to that child, you must have a heart-to-heart; that child is an abandoned, lonely, bored “you.” You have to tell that child that it’s okay; “we did okay.” Yes, your childhood wasn’t perfect, but it’s okay, we’re going to deal with our emotions in a productive manner. Tell the child, that he did what he had to do to survive as a child, but that method is now obsolete, today we have to become a big boy, or a big girl.
I know it sounds silly, but when you feel that pressure, you have to tell yourself, “I’m a big boy now,” “I’m a big girl now.” Instead of getting a drink, I’m going to channel my energy into my work, into my church, into fitness, into something productive – because that is what adults do!
As the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum, in other words you must replace the bad habit with a productive one. It’s certainly possible to replace the bad habit with another bad habit, to go from overeating to becoming an alcoholic, but that’s not what you’re going to do – that’s what a child would do. You’re going to change for the better, you’re going to act like the adult that you are, and every time you feel the pressure…you’re going to talk to the child on the inside of you; you’re going to assure that child that things are okay, and you’re going to remind that child that you now deal with your problems in a productive manner; a manner that will benefit you, and not destroy you. …You’re not going to wait until you hit “rock bottom” to change. You’re going to change today!
When you follow these steps, something surprising will happen, you will begin to succeed in other areas of your life. You will be shocked at how much time and energy your bad habit consumed. You will finally begin to make significant progress; you will begin to be the man or woman that you desire to be. Congratulations, you’re growing up!
Thank you for reading!
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