Five Strategies to Eliminate Bad Habits

If you have tried to eliminate a bad habit, you know how difficult change can be. Your good intentions and best efforts fall apart as you try to eliminate overeating, procrastination, negative thinking, disorganization and more. Habits consist of behaviors, thoughts and emotions that are a part of your daily existence. Some habitual patterns limit and harm; others support and enhance. Positive habits lead to an abundant lifestyle filled with optimal health, satisfying relationships and prosperity.

Recently I had the awareness that I am addicted to seeing what is missing in my life rather than the fullness and perfection that already exists. This epiphany came to me after I heard myself giving thanks for my lovely home and wishing it had larger rooms and more storage. Suddenly I realized that giving thanks and asking for more at the same time is a habitual pattern with me. It began with the deprivation in my childhood but it still keeps me in a quiet state of longing. Instead of feeling the fullness of what I have, my mind acknowledges some lack.

I have made a commitment to change this mental habit. Instead of “seeing what is missing,” I will totally focus on and feel the abundance of what I have in the moment.

If you would like to eliminate a negative habit, here are five strategies that work:

  1. Be aware – Identify a specific pattern. A bad habit could be blaming yourself or others, worrying about your future, criticizing your spouse, smoking or avoiding exercise. Identify what you want to accomplish. For example, you might want to exercise five days a week for 30 minutes, instead of several times a month.
  2. Stay motivated – Use imagery to promote change: Associate a pleasant, desirable outcome to the positive change you want and associate an unpleasant, negative consequence to the habit you want to eliminate. For example, picture yourself feeling strong and looking radiant when you exercise regularly; picture yourself struggling to walk up a flight of stairs when you do not.
  3. Commit – Develop a plan that has simple, easy steps to achieve your goal. Be sure your goal is specific, time oriented and realistic. For example, if you have not exercised for years, begin walking 10 minutes a day. If you are industrious, join a fitness center. When your plan is doable, you will do it.
  4. Give up excuses –Challenge internal excuses like I am too busy or I must answer this phone call. For example, once you schedule time to exercise, only allow an emergency to stop you. When you find the right time and way to move your body, your excuses will fall away.
  5. Persist – Stay focused and keep going until you remove all obstacles to changing a limiting habit. If you miss your mark, start again or try new strategies. Avoid criticizing yourself; instead, stay focused on the benefits of the new habit. It might take months but persistence pays off.

As you implement these strategies and feel excited by the anticipated benefits of the change you want, you will overcome any resistance that protects a habit that sabotages your health, happiness and prosperity. Internal limitations and external distractions will fall away. With awareness, commitment, purposeful actions and persistence, you are taking charge and developing habits that improve the quality of your life.

What strategies have worked for you to overcome a negative habitual pattern? Click the words “Leave a Comment” at the top of the page under the title.

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