A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. In other words, if we practice something long enough, often enough and on a consistent basis then it becomes a habit; it takes over us, it controls us and we do it without conscious thought or questioning.
We also need to understand that we engage in habits of doing and not doing. In other words, if you do not exercise, then that is also a habit not exercising.
Recently, the US government applied the largest tax hike ever on cigarettes and combined with other state charges and taxes, suddenly, I have been inundated for requests by people for help to kick the habit of smoking.
People often speak in terms of ‘breaking a habit’ but the actual process does not simply involve pattern interruption, it involves replacing the habit with something else which still meets the benefits originally offered by the first habit. For example, instead of inhaling poisonous smoke, you now inhale fresh air, take a long walk or engage in other ways that relax you, ease your stress or give you a short break from your daily routine.
Almost all of our behavior is driven by the “Pain and Pleasure Principle” we move away from pain and we move towards pleasure. Once the pain in any activity overrides its pleasure, we are compelled to change our behavior or habits.
In other words, to change any habit, we must first associate massive pain with that behavior and associate massive pleasure with our new consciously desired habit.
For example, every habit began because of an association with pleasure. Most people began smoking as teenagers because of peer pressure: they wanted to be accepted, liked and be part of the group (pleasure) and they feared rejection, mockery or humiliation (pain.)
Almost all addictions offer some sort of benefit (even in spite of the obvious painful consequences.) Many people become addicted to various behaviors as a way of escaping some pain (facing themselves, their past, their present life or some other reality) and as way of experiencing pleasure (numbing the pain, being accepted or feeling happy in the moment.)
Our habits and addictions are not though limited to just chemicals. Too many of us engage in various destructive habits overeating, overworking, obsessing, ruminating, criticizing, judging, blaming, hiding, staying stuck in our comfort zone, avoiding people, lying, spreading gossip or bad news, holding resentments, living in the past, etc.
The key to changing those habits and replacing them with new and empowering habits is to first identify the benefits of your present habit or behavior. A benefit can be any result that is perceived as advantageous, positive or good. For example, one of my clients was a “Cutter” she would cut herself on the arm. We uncovered that her subconscious motivation to cut was caused by her desire and need to feel in control of the pain that was inflicted on her (in contrast with the other people in her life who were inflicting pain on her) and; her desire to actually be able to feel the pain.
So if you are ready, take a look at your life and habits. Ask yourself, “How does this habit serve or benefit me?”
For example, one of my clients came to me to help her “find love.” As we reviewed her habits, we identified a pattern that she would always find something wrong with her date, no matter who they were. So what was the benefit of finding something wrong with every potential suitor? It kept her safe: She would reject the man before he could reject her. Thus, she felt that she could avoid the hurt of rejection by criticizing the man, pushing him away and thus remaining single. But after years of being alone, the scales were starting to tip. My client wanted a family; she wanted someone that she could love and someone that would also be there for her.
Thus, for us to help her to change her habit and replace it with a better habit, we had to:
1. Identify her fear
2. Establish where and when she took on the habit of criticizing
3. Help her to feel good about herself so that she could associate lots of pain with staying the way she was (criticizing romantic partners) and;
4. Now associate pleasure with dating and love once more.
This approach and strategy can be applied to any habit. However, if you have a heavy chemical addiction, then you will need a comprehensive program which also includes detoxification, consistent counseling and ongoing support. If you would like support and assistance to end the habit of cigarettes and replace it with something much more beneficial, try my hypnosis CD. It works on a subconscious level to change what you associate with smoking, shift you to focus on the extraordinary benefits of being a non-smoke, while also helping you to relax deeply and soothe away stress.

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