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Simple Steps to Make Habit Changes Easier

no sodaHabits are those things that we do so frequently and naturally that we do them without thinking. When trying to change a habit, especially terminating a specific action or reaction or changing to a new action or reaction, these unconscious responses can feel out of your control or make you feel like you have an addiction.

When I quit drinking soda, I was not addicted and did not have withdrawals, but it was the first thing I reached for when craving sweet or wanting a boost in the afternoon. Rather than trying to control what has become an unconscious reaction, you may find it easier to control the stimuli that cause that reaction or create new stimuli to create a new reaction.

Are you trying to stop a certain habit or reaction, create a new habit, or replace an old habit with a new one? When trying to stop a specific reaction, it can be helpful to remove those things that might encourage that reaction and introduce new cues that discourage that reaction.

If you want to quit smoking, you don’t want to buy cigarettes and have them available. Posting a picture of yourself at your highest weight on your refrigerator is a common stimulus people use to discourage excess snacking.  If you are trying to improve your health by adding flossing to your daily schedule, a post-it note on the bathroom mirror might be the only added stimulus you need until it becomes an unconscious part of your routine. If you want to start eating healthier snacks instead of junk, put the graham crackers on the eye level shelf and the junk food out of site.

February 19th, 2009

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2 Responses to “Simple Steps to Make Habit Changes Easier”


Lena Hellsten
Feb 19th, 2009
10:18 am

Great points there Brooke. It is really often easier to replace a habit then to eliminate it. It takes usually a bit of a transition time before you’ve forgotten the old habit but by doing the things that are of a more positive nature and in alignment with what we want, we naturally enjoy the reward so much that the transition becomes easy. The same is true with changing habitual thoughts, which often are the root to action habits we do. When we realize we don’t have to eliminate them from our reality it often makes it easier to change. We know than that whatever we chose to do each moment is temporary, if we would have the desire to pick up that old habit again at some point, it will still be there. This takes off a lot of pressure. If we think that ‘I never ever again will be able to enjoy chocolate because I’m want to be healthy’, then it becomes more emotionally charged and we become less willing to resist our urge to grab the bar. Realizing that its only in this moment I chose take this healthier choice makes it easer.(then of course, we might continue this pattern over and over and suddenly we have this new positive habit of ours!) Have a great day!


Brooke
Feb 19th, 2009
11:36 am

All excellent and true points about habit change, Lena. Those are definitely important themes that you are likely to see over and over in my blogs. Thank you for the reminders to all.