Conquering Bad Habits

By Valorie Dassel, Courier & Press, May 26, 2015 –

Tomorrow is the day! No more lounging on the couch for me. I am going to start exercising. My schedule will be more relaxed in the summer with the kids being out of school.

Since I will be eating healthy tomorrow, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy one last fattening meal tonight. I don’t feel an ounce of guilt because, after all, I’ll be running and eating healthy from here on out. This one meal doesn’t matter.

That annoying buzz of the alarm clock comes way too early, however. Oops! I’ve hit the snooze too many times, and I won’t be able to get that run in this morning. I’ll make sure I run right after work.

My good friend asks me to lunch. I haven’t spent much time with her lately, so I’ll grab a burger with her and just eat a healthy supper. After a busy day, however, it looks like pizza tonight.

I finally have the kids asleep, but it’s just too late for a run. I’m going to do better tomorrow. Now where is that chocolate I’ve been craving?

Does this sound familiar? Bad habits are so routine for many of us that we don’t even realize we are engaging in them. The human mind can rationalize bad habits until they suit our purposes.

Our bad habits can range from unhealthy diets to procrastination and on up the scale to substance addiction. To break a habit a person needs to be actively aware of their thoughts and practice self-discipline. What’s in it for you? Ask yourself why you engage in the negative behavior you want to overcome.

Furthermore, we should think about how our actions affect others. Many people get stuck in this contemplative stage because there isn’t always an immediate negative consequence for many of our bad behaviors. Our culture has a “live for the moment” mentality that blurs the reality of the consequences.

Even when fully educated on the harmful effects of the habit, it is often not enough to make us stop. That “one brownie a day” can turn into the scale “incorrectly” showing five extra pounds before we even realize it.

For many, success is found in the following steps:

Make a conscious choice every day. Which is more important to you — the temporary fix you get from smoking or being able to walk up a flight of stairs without being winded at the top?

Replace the bad behavior with positive behavior. This takes discipline at first and then becomes more automatic. A running routine can be difficult at first but then becomes addicting for many. Don’t be afraid to change the replacement behavior, however, if it is just not working.

Change one habit at a time! You may end up with no change at all if you attempt an “Extreme Makeover.”

Visualize and imagine what life will be like for you when you take control back.

Write down your reasons for desiring change and your plan for change. Tell people about your goals.

Breaking bad habits is possible, however, there is work involved. These steps must be accompanied by active thought processing, perseverance and, for many, prayer or meditation.