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The Benefits of Breaking Bad Habits
Good habit vs. Bad habits
We all have habits, whether we realize them or not. Some habits are positive and improve our lives but some are harmful because they consume our minds, life and may even cause health problems. For example habits such as biting our nails may not be harmful but it's irksome and habits such as smoking are harmful to our health because it may lead to lung, oral cancers, emphysema, heart diseases, strokes and second hand smoke. No matter how big or small our bad habits are I believe the root of the problem is we are seeking instant gratification outside of ourselves and this keeps our minds in search mode, for more and away from having a peaceful mind.
I feel habits all started from behaviors that provided us some sort of comfort or rewarded us. Therefore we continued to repeat them and we engraved those behaviors in our minds. I learned this is known as instrumental conditioning, when we learn behaviors that results in positive outcome and it's strengthen by repeating those behaviors over and over. Whether the habits are good or bad for us, doesn't matter, it's the reward we get from it. Good habits such as brushing your teeth every night, working out, eating right, gives us positive results and also keeps us balanced and healthy. However,the bad habits such as eating sweets at night that gives us instant reward, have negative consequences. Those are habits that may cause health problems.
Loving Something That's Deadly
We all have our opinions of what's a good or bad habits. It depends on the outcome, for some drinking alcohol moderately is not bad when there hasn't been any negative consequences. For others drinking is a bad habit because it has led to relationship problems, accident and financial problems. Overall, alcohol and cigarettes are known to be among the leading drugs that can lead to substance abuse & death since nicotine and ethanol are habit forming drugs."Alcohol and tobacco are among the top causes of preventable deaths in the United States" (The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,NIAA). However, even thou people know the danger of these kind of bad habits they still continue using. Habits such as smoking are challenging to stop because of the addicting chemicals, it becomes more than a mental relaxation or reward fix. Habits where chemicals are involved may lead to addictions over time because our bodies begins to depend on them. NIAA states,"Evidence increasingly suggests that both alcohol and tobacco may act on the mesolimbic dopamine system, a part of the brain that is involved in reward, emotion, memory, and cognition. "Brain cells that release dopamine—a key brain chemical involved in addiction". Some even cause new problems such as anxiety, depression and mental health issues because nervous systems are affected. If not taking care of physical health problems such as cancers, heart disease and liver disease may arise. These are the bad consequences of some habits.
For other habits such as procrastination which provides rewards such as doing what you really want now and doing what you need to do later. Also excessive shopping which give us an adrenaline rush but may hurt our finances. They're habits that may lead to problems in the long run. Every habit has a consequences either good or bad. Even if the habit feels good. What's it doing to your overall health, mental and spiritual well-being? You can love something that's deadly. Even if it's not a chemical additions some habits can affect our lives. Since habits can consume our minds and lives. Our habits can trap us, keep us stuck, consuming our time and energy. Taking us away from having a free mind to grow. Stunting our growth.
Personally, I have been affected from my own bad habits. I have procrastinated and still do today. I once kept putting off making dentist appointments which resulting in having my first root canal last year. If I would gone earlier I would of only needed a crown on my tooth, not a root canal. I also have a bad habit of over eating and eating sweets. I admit it's really hard breaking those habits since I've been doing them for so long. However, my goal is to break them because I know my life will be get better. I have been mindful of my eating habits and I have seen the benefits. I've lost 14 pounds. I eat smaller, frequent food portions now and eat wiser. I still get to eat sweets but in small bites now. Changing that negative habit has led me to working out and taking better care of myself. However, my procrastination is a work in progress, I do my best to do what I need to do right away, without over thinking and it's improving. I feel better mentally, physically and spiritually. It's takes time to break a habit but it can be done.
Awareness, Acceptance and Action.
Habit forming is a slow process because it takes repetitions. So it makes sense that it'll take time to break them.
"All bad habit starts slowly and gradually and before you know you have the habit, the habit has you." ~Zig Ziglar
The Triple A's you can use for any situation. I learned about them in Al-Anon, a support group for family and friends of problem drinkers. I feel these As are powerful in changing our lives, so I'm applying them in helping break our bad habits.
I feel the first important step towards breaking any habit is becoming aware of it. Once you realize you have a problem, this is the key to the door of freedom. Awareness sheds light when we've been in the dark. We can see now, what's really going on and this is when we can begin to get our power back. It's a new beginning towards a new life.
Second is acceptance that you're struggling and it's ok. Accept that you're a human being learning and growing. Don't beat yourself up for developing this habit. Sometimes these habits developed in a subconscious level. We learned it from our parents, older siblings and environments. Most of our bad habits were stress relievers or coping mechanism. Therefore, accept them and be grateful that now you can make positive changes.
Third action, decide to do something about it today. Putting our awareness, acceptance into action. The first two As will be your motivation in developing a strategy of action. Depending on the habit you want to break will require a unique plan. Some my need to change a negative to positive habits, others may need support and other's may need counseling or treatment if it's chemical habits. No matter what, give yourself permission to take action now, to break free because now is always the best time to start,
Ways Of Breaking Free Of Bad Habits
Dr. Phil Advisory Board member Arthur B. Markman provides strategies for breaking habits and replacing them with good ones:
Dr. Art Markman's Five Ways to Break a Bad Habit
1) Define Bad Habit and Commit to Change
- Before you can change anything, you need to identify the habit you want changed
- You can't change anything unless you are ready AND committed to do so
2) Disrupt the Habit
- Block habits by disrupting the specific actions that make up the habit
- Stop habit from becoming mindless; force yourself to have to think about habit
- Sometimes you can change environment
3) Create Habit Diary
- Identify triggers (elements in life that support current habit)
- Make note of date, time of day, your mood, where you were, what you were thinking
- Identify patterns
- This allows you to learn about yourself
4) Replace Bad Habit with Smart Habit
- Replace something with something
- Must create a goal
5) Reward Yourself
- Provide self with positive feedback
What's are the most popular bad habits?
I feel breaking a bad habit is creating the habit in taking good care of yourself: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. When you make the choice to stop a bad habit you're making positives changes towards your life. The energy you create around yourself and others is powerful. When our minds are consumed in a bad habit we're too busy to focus on our talents, gifts and purpose. A clear and healthy mind will give us a positive and relaxed energy.
Sometimes our habits create spiritual blockage but if we pay attention they'll will lead us to why we're over eating, why we're shopaholics, why we drink too much, smoke, bite our nails down to the flesh and etc, Make a commitment to changing your bad habits because you're the only one who can make these changes. We all have bad habits but do we all do something about it, Most of us let our negative thinking and compulsive behaviors take over our lives. It's up to us to become aware, accept and take action in changing those bad habits.
It's a personal choice that affects every area and everyone in your life. Remember you are source energy. If our minds, bodies and souls are balanced and healthy our energy will bring positive experiences. That's the benefits of breaking negative habits.