It's rare to come across someone who doesn't have any bad habits. Almost all of us have some annoying or destructive habits that we'd love to cure and get rid of forever. Do you smoke? Do you drink too much? Do you shop obsessively even though you should be maintaining a budget? Do you snack on sweets and high-calorie fast food even when you aren't hungry? Do you bite your nails or twirl your hair when you're nervous? Do you use foul language even in situations where you know there will be consequences? Do you find yourself straightening all the piles of paper in your office and being unable to work unless they look a certain way? All of these are examples of bad habits or obsessive compulsive disorders that are hard to break.
You might have suffered from your bad habit for so long that you don't know how or why it started. The first time you picked up a cigarette it was a conscious choice, but by the time you had decided to smoke for the tenth time you were on your way of forming an addictive behavior pattern. At this point in time your subconscious mind had taken over and placed this action on automatic pilot. You couldn't use conscious willpower to break the habit anymore. The more you told yourself it was beyond your capabilities to exercise your willpower to change the habit, the worse the habit became as a result. The reality is that whenever your conscious mind and your subconscious mind are in conflict, the subconscious mind almost always wins, so the habit stays with you as if it's glued on your psyche.
What's Holding You Back from Curing Your Bad Habits?
If you're like most people you've probably tried to break your bad habits many times. You really want to change, but despite your best efforts to enforce a change through your willpower it's a losing battle. You keep trying and sometimes you can beat the habit into a cage for awhile but eventually it breaks down the door and comes roaring out, sometimes even more powerfully than it had before. The problem is you're not working on the major source of your problem. You're trying to solve the problem at the level of the conscious mind, but it's the subconscious mind that's hindering your progress.
Think of your subconscious mind as a computer data storage program. Every feeling, every emotion, every sight, and every sound you've ever experienced is recorded there. At the beginning, your conscious mind makes a choice but after you make that selection in those same circumstances a few times, it becomes a pattern. Your subconscious mind takes that pattern and creates an "algorithm" from it. For example, you had a stressful day at work. You're not really hungry but you reach for the pint of ice cream in the freezer. Before you know it, you've polished the last spoonful of ice cream off without thinking or really making a conscious choice. The next time this same set of circumstances happens, you come home upset and stressed over the workday, your ice cream algorithm takes over and you put on more and more pounds.
The good news is that your subconscious mind can be reprogrammed. You just need to identify the damaging messages you're sending to yourself and replace them with positive affirmations. The key is to make sure that you're conscious mind doesn't reject these new images of yourself before your subconscious mind can absorb these new messages and act on them.
Curing Negative Self-Talk Patterns
In addition to the complication of the way bad habits are stored in your subconscious, they're also tied to negative thought patterns that may have been ingrained in your thinking since you were very young. Many of these thought patterns may be linked to lack of self-esteem. Deep down you may feel unworthy for some reason and this may have caused you to reach for a bad habit as if it were a crutch. Here's an example of the negative thought patterns of a young woman who's struggling with weight gain and an addiction to unhealthy foods:
- Whenever I'm stressed, I feel so hungry.
- No matter how much I eat I never feel full.
- I'm always going to be overweight.
- I look really terrible. No one wants a friend who is fat.
- I've tried dieting before but it never works.
- I hate exercising. It's humiliating to go the gym looking the way I do.
- I hate myself. I wish I could lose weight.
- My sisters were always beautiful. I was the ugly one.
- My parents were embarrassed because I was overweight.
The negative self-talk patterns here apply to all types of bad habits. If you examine your own thought patterns you'll realize that your habit is somehow connected to a feeling of unworthiness or a feeling of being overwhelmed or out of control. Another common linkage is the fear of success. Deep down you feel that if you didn't have the bad habit you'd be more successful and you fear that success instead of embracing it.
Using Positive Affirmations
To create new messages for yourself, think about the habits you want to change and then customize positive affirmations to replace the negative thoughts you've been sending yourself. Here are some general affirmations that you can tailor for your needs:
- All my habits are healthy and beneficial.
- Changing my daily behavior is as simple as changing my thoughts.
- I am completely committed to my new lifestyle which is free from……………
- I am finally free and I feel better than I ever have.
- I'm able to easily control all my impulses.
- I'm in the best health I've ever been.
- I always make the best choice for my body and my mind.
Put your favorite affirmations on cards and place them somewhere where you'll see them every day. The key is to get your conscious mind and subconscious mind working together to overcome your negative thought patterns and habits.
Using Hypnosis or Self-Hypnosis
Sometimes when you try to use positive affirmations your conscious mind will reject them outright. Working with a hypnotherapist can solve this problem. You and the hypnotherapist can discuss the habit you want to break and the hypnotherapist can put you under hypnosis so that the messages will get through to your subconscious. With practice, you can also use self-hypnosis. Find a quiet place where you can be free from distraction for 30 minutes to an hour. Relax every muscle in your body from your head to your toes. Do this gradually by telling yourself to release tension and negative energy from each muscle. Once you are deeply relaxed you can say your chosen affirmation or repeat it to yourself mentally. When you're in a hypnotic state of mind, right on the edge of sleep but still focused, your conscious mind doesn't judge or reject and your subconscious mind absorbs the new message.
Using Subliminal Audio
Another inexpensive and highly effective way to quickly transform your subconscious mind is through the power of listening. Subliminal audio contains positive affirmations at a level that are not detected by the conscious mind but can still be absorbed by the subconscious mind. The messages are accompanied by music or background sounds so they relax your mind into a hypnotic state as you listen with headphones. There are audios available for common bad habits and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Using Visualization Techniques
In addition to using the techniques already described, you can use a vision board or visualization techniques to help you on your path to cure bad habits. Visualize yourself as a whole, healthy, fulfilled person who doesn't need the crutch of a bad habit to get through day-to-day life. You're filled with vitality and free from the physical disease and financial strain your bad habits have caused. Now you're in a position to become your best self and you can look forward to happy experiences now and in the future.