6 steps to changing unhelpful habits
Have you ever tried to break a habit and started off well, but given up a few days or weeks in?
Changing habits can be difficult when:
- Our surroundings stay the same and give us the same triggers/cues/rewards.
- We have subconscious beliefs about ourselves and ability to change that we don’t address
- We try to do too much too quickly and feel overwhelmed
- We strive for perfection instead of progress
- We want results fast and base the measurement of success on outcomes only
- We compare ourselves to others or to ourselves in the past instead of being present
So how do we overcome these barriers?
Here are some ideas to help you successfully break or change a habit!
Know your why – look at the bigger picture. If your goal is related to health, spend some time visualising and dreaming up what it feels and looks like to be healthy. If it is related to parenting or relationships, visualise what it feels and looks like to have a loving, connected relationship with your children or partner. Imagine this feeling with no limitations and then feel it as if it is happening now. Ask yourself – what would I do? What would I say? How would I carry myself? Then start doing it! Then ask yourself –what do I need to do or what support do I need to make this my daily reality?
Have a clear action plan – Be specific about what you will do to reach your goal. Break it down so you don’t get overwhelmed. What can you do now/today/this week? Keep the bigger picture in mind but use it as inspiration rather than a burden. Celebrate every small step and where you’re at now. Acceptance and self-compassion is needed for change!
Adjust your surroundings to support you – Avoid the triggers for a habit you want to break, e.g. I take petrol in the morning instead of afternoon because I won’t be tempted by the chocolate bars in the morning! Create triggers or reminders for the habits you want to create or replace old ones with – e.g. put your runners in front of the TV, use a timer on your phone to remind you to relax and tune in to your body, put the fruit on the bench, veggies at eye level in the fridge and the sometimes foods out of sight. Ask for help from your family and friends!
Practice mindfulness – of course! When you are mindfully present you can see things clearly. You can let go of the stories that the ego wants to hold on to. You can act instead of react! And remember part of mindfulness is curiosity and non-judgement. Don’t buy into self-critical thoughts. Nourish the thoughts and feelings that uplift and encourage you.
Challenge beliefs that no longer serve you – Through this practice you will become aware of underlying beliefs about yourself and your abilities or certain situations. Ask yourself – Is it true? Is it helpful? Consciously let go of anything that isn’t serving you in the present moment. Plug in a more helpful belief – e.g. if you realise that you are getting overwhelmed because you can’t say no to others, this might be related to an underlying belief around worthiness or needing to feel accepted and approved of by others. You can explore this through meditation and journaling and challenge this belief with an affirmation such as ‘I love and accept myself as I am. I set clear personal boundaries.’
Practice gratitude – observe all the beautiful gifts in life. Celebrate where you are at now and know that from this space you will attract more to be grateful for!