“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’.” ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
13 years ago I worked 60 hour weeks, stressed and was coping the best way I knew how, self-medicating with alcohol and cigarettes. I smoked at least a pack a day and my nickname was “Fish” due to the copious amounts of alcohol I could (and would) consume. This may come as a shock to those that didn’t know me back then. Thankfully today I’m a mindful mama, yogi, and conscious entrepreneur. But it wasn’t a healthy road from the get-go. And while I successfully kicked the bad habit of smoking, I fully acknowledge life is all about balance and I still appreciate a glass of wine or champagne!
Turning your life around and kicking bad habits are both usually inspired and motivated by something very personal. We each have our own unique journey in life. For me it was witnessing my best friend and both my parents struck with serious illness (rest in peace daddy and Bo). From my own experience and working with my clients, I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late to live more consciously and holistically.
I invite you to ask yourself, if you finally did break those bad habits:
“How would you feel in your body and look as the years go on?” Perhaps you have more energy, you’re more present with your family, or you feel and look better than you did 10 years ago?
“What can you do now in your life with that additional discretionary income?” Perhaps you can finally take that well-deserved holiday, save for your children’s college education or make a down payment on a new car?
So often we think that to break our bad habits, we need to become an entirely new person. But you don’t need to be someone else. You just need to return to the person you were before your bad habits. What may seem like bad habits caused by stress are sometimes actually caused by deeper issues stemming from childhood — a fear, an event, or a limiting belief — that is causing you to hold on to something that is bad for you.
As children we were playful, curious and expressive without any self-doubt or judgment. Then somehow along the way we got punished for being just that. We were told “No” because someone else was probably told the same and didn’t understand how to deal with emotion. But if from a young age we’re taught to suppress our expression, emotion, or grief, we then instead find a coping strategy, an outlet, or a vice to hide, protect and “sugar coat” what’s truly happening underneath, just waiting to be heard and seen. This inner child stays with us well into adulthood and beyond, and it’s up to you to reclaim him/her so that you can finally let go of any fears or limiting beliefs so that you can move forward. Coping strategies may have served you in the past but they’re no longer serving you in the present or for your future.
Everything from biting your nails, wasting time on the Internet overspending on a shopping spree to drinking every weekend can be a simple response to stress and/or a deeper-rooted issue caused by your upbringing, your cultural and physical environment.
So instead of dividing your attention, creating harm to your physical body or increasing your stress levels with a coping strategy, why not kick that bad habit once and for all. Here are my top five tips to break those bad habits now and live a more happy and healthy life:
1) Have awareness. Recognizing the causes of your bad habits is crucial to overcome them. When you become more conscious this will ultimately show you how to actually make change.
o When does your bad habit actually happen?
o How many times do you do it each day?
o Where are you?
o Who are you with?
o What triggers the behavior and causes it to start?
2) Replace. Instead of quitting “cold turkey” come up with a different way to deal with stress to address the same need and live from that new behavior. For example, instead of reaching for a cigarette, practice deep, conscious yogic breathing, in and out through the nose. This instantly calms your nervous system and brings you into the present moment. When you learn to breathe properly it allows the body to heal on a cellular and emotional level.
3) Eliminate. Cut out as many triggers as possible that bring you to a bad habit. Instead of eating sugary and processed snacks just don’t buy them so they’re sitting around your house — instead buy healthy organic nuts and fruits. Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them. Make small changes in your environment and you will make those good habits easier and those bad habits harder.
4) Reinforcements. Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live. Perhaps it’s time to find some new friends — people who will inspire and encourage your new and healthy habits. Or perhaps pair up with someone to motivate and quit together. Together you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your wins together. It’s not necessary to ditch your old friends, but it’s necessary to modify your time with time them.
5) Visualize. Bring your awareness to the present and notice what steps you would need to do to feel yourself break your bad habit. Keep feeling, feeling and more feeling into how your life would be different, who would be around you now, and what would that look like. Literally, with a smile on your face, visualise yourself, with a new and healthy lifestyle, walking right by those cigarettes and not buying them, waking up early, or purchasing healthy food. Visualize yourself moving closer towards your meaningful goals, relieving your stress and giving you a huge sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.
Originally published at lesliesaglio.com.
Originally published at medium.com