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HabitsDeveloping Good Habits

 

We all have a large number of habits which are often linked to form patterns of thinking
and behaviour.

 

Some habits are strongly held beliefs and attitudes. Because habits have been constantly rehearsed they take little conscious mental effort to perform. They can become 'hard wired' and instinctive over time.

 

Are your habits working against you?

 

Do you find change difficult and building good habits a challenge?

 

Would you like to break free and lead a more successful and healthier life?

 

We all have a large number of habits which are frequently linked to form patterns of thinking and behaviour. Some are strongly held beliefs and attitudes.

 

When long established, habits can become a part of one's personality. A work ethic would be a generally good feature, whereas other habit traits might be less beneficial.

 

Habits are formed by repetition. The development of a habit strengths particular neuro-pathways in our brain, like building a road in our head. Habits are conditioned responds to stimuli where conscious thought, or mental effort, is minimal. There is often both a mental and physical dimension needed to maintain the habit.

 

In positive terms, repetitive ways of thinking and doing gives our life some convenient structure and predictability. Habits are economical on effort and energy. They have evolved for this very reason, so essentially we don't need to rethink every situation.

 

Habits commonly make up a large part of what we do. Think of driving a car. We can become our habits; they can be our way of managing life. However, mental beliefs and habits are only perceptions of reality. They can be right or wrong, beneficial or detrimental. And we may lack sufficient insight ourselves to question their desirability. The process of change requires a conscious reappraisal of habits.

 

All habits will satisfy a need which may be actual or imagined.

 

Every habit follows a 3-step pattern or structure:

 

• A trigger which starts the process, such as stress

• A response activity, e.g. eating chocolate

• Perceived benefit: reduced stress and feeling good..

 

Not all habits are bad by any means. To the individual they are subconsciously viewed as beneficial. However, the conscious part of their mind may not agree. Internal conflict can arise. They might try to convince themselves that the benefits of their habit exceeds any risk.

 

For example, a smoker might feel that his/her smoking reduces tension or stress – makes them feel better. But clearly to an informed observer smoking is known to be bad for health. Yet it is the psychologically perceived benefit that matter to the smoker.

 

These benefits can be both physical and mental. With smoking there is a physiological effect (raised heart rate) and a possible mental effect (relaxation). Equally, there are negative aspects too which the smoker may or may not fully consider.

 

The psychological balance between negatives and positives are what matters. Is the gain from continuing the habit greater than any potential loss? Often the gain is short-term, but the loss is longer-term and less easy to quantified. Smoking is a long-term gamble with health, just as excessive alcohol is dangerous over time.

 

Some good habits are linked to others, such as exercising and healthy eating. Just as the bad habit of drinking alcohol might be associated with smoking.

 

Habits can either help or hinder the attainment of a goal. Having a pattern of good habits is very helpful in achieving a goal, such as weight loss. The imagination can play a part too. Once good habits have been established it takes less conscious effort to achieve the goal. The subconscious mind has been programmed with good habits. In a similar way, the disciplined training of soldiers gives them automatic responses in battle. They can be programmed to act literally without thinking.

 

Other habits can be described as nervous afflictions, or displacement (ways of dissipating stress) activities. These can include: hair pulling, nail biting, excessive scratching, nervous eye blinking, fidgeting, tongue chewing, skin picking and head nodding.

 

These are frequently associated with either anxiety, insecurity, lack of self-confidence or tension. Typically these are automatic activities which occur without conscious thought. Such habits can be formed during periods of stress and can often begin at a young age. It is important to address the cause – a stressful event – so the bad habit no longer has a purpose.

 

Other bad habits can include overspending, negative thinking and procrastination. Some are active (overspending), others are passive (procrastination and negative thinking).

 

The sooner one recognizes the implications of bad habits the sooner they can be corrected. Bad habits should not be allowed to take over and create future problems. The tail should not wag the dog! Firstly the removal of triggers can allow the habit to die.

 

An example of a pattern might be: TV programme ends (cue), go to fridge (routine) then eat snack (reward). In this case there is no justification for a reward since no effort as been expended by watching TV.

 

Rewards should only be associated with an achievement where effort is involved. So good habits are encouraged. One key to changing habits is to identify the cue or trigger, then modifying the routine and reward. But chose your reward carefully. A smoker who stops smoking and rewards him/her self with extra food or alcohol is choosing a substitute bad habit. Putting on weight will almost be as bad as smoking.

 

Hypnotherapy can establish and reinforce good habits by reaching the subconscious mind, allowing beneficial change to take root. In effect reprogramming the mind.

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Please note:

If you telephone and we are with a client, you may be directed to leave a message. Please give your name and telephone number and a suitable time to call you back. Due to the confidential nature of our work, Alan personally takes all appointment bookings.

 

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