Life can be stressful, and sometimes we develop maladaptive ways to cope with it.
If you have a negative habit that is creating a barrier to your plans and goals in life here are some ways to take your personal power back:
1. Write a vision statement for your life.
Include one to ten goals in your vision statement. What do you ultimately hope to achieve in your lifetime? What matters to you most? Where do you want to see yourself in five years? Having a strong sense of how you want your future to look will help you to focus your energy in the right places and make you less inclined to want to act on any behaviours that may prevent you from achieving your goals.
2. Write down all the possible negative consequences of the destructive habit.
How is the habit impacting your physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual well-being? If there are any negative consequences that you feel you would not be able to accept, it is time to kick the habit. A bad habit usually has far fewer pros than cons.
3. Substitute the negative habit with a healthy habit.
For instance, if someone has a habit of eating junk food to cope with stress, they can try healthier snack options, exercising, meditation, aromatherapy, watching a movie, listening to music, etc.
4. Identify when you are most likely to act on the negative habit.
Prevention is the key; relying on willpower alone does not always work. Knowing what triggers you to act on a bad habit can help you to change the course of events leading up to it. What time of the day or week are you most likely to succumb to a bad habit? (e.g. at the end of a work week when you are seeking a reward, or the night before work when you might have high anxiety levels, etc.) What are some of the ways you can reduce any stress, anxiety, or other triggers that contribute to your need to escape through a bad habit? (e.g. seek work/life balance, change careers, let go of toxic relationships, practice mindfulness and empowering self-talk, etc.)
5. Visualize your life without the negative habit.
Imagine yourself waking up in the morning knowing you are free from the destructive habit; you no longer feel enslaved by it, and you are in full control.
Important: If you feel your habit is an addiction that is causing serious destruction to your life and/or the lives of others, it is recommended that you seek medical help. Addiction can change the chemistry of the brain causing a person to believe that an unhealthy habit is good for him/her, or that they cannot live without it, when in reality this is not the case.