By Frank Jenning

Do you talk over people during conversations?

Do you bite your nails when you are nervous?


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By Frank Jenning

Do you talk over people during conversations?

Do you bite your nails when you are nervous?

Do you ‘drink like a fish’ or ‘pop pills like a pharmacist?’

Have you ever told a lie to get a point across?

Have you ever ignored the people you were with for a better conversation with someone on your cell phone?

Has your recent predicament made you so worried that you can’t focus on anything?

Good, you are human. Each and every person on this earth has habits, both good and bad. There are just some things that we tend to do automatically. These patterns have become so repetitive that they almost seem natural. Habits are inherently neutral, but speaking for myself, I seem to have more bad ones than good. I personally think I could greatly benefit from turning the tables. So...how do we break bad habits?

What is a Habit?

Now, in order to break a bad habit, you must have a clear understanding of what a habit is. Habits are behaviors that are repeated automatically without any thought or intent. They are so routine that they happen subconsciously. Many of them are created by repetition of a reaction to a specific situation or a measurable amount of positive stimuli.

We all have habits, good and bad, that affect how we respond in various situations. Take me, for example. Whenever I get a chance to watch my favorite show, Man vs. Wild, I must have an ice cold glass of milk and Oreos. That is my good habit. My bad habit is throwing my dirty clothes on a reclining chair in our bedroom that drives my wife nuts. She thinks we should use the chair for sitting. I use it as a dirty clothes hamper. We have agreed to disagree.

The Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

In an attempt to stay married, for at least another year, I have decided it would be best to get rid of my unproductive habit. Here are a few steps that I have taken on my long road to self-improvement that I think will help you as well. Some are easier than others. Good Luck.

  • Step One: Recognize your habits.

You might not notice that every word that comes out of your mouth is negative. Maybe your compulsive drinking habit doesn’t bother you at all. The nature of habits makes them sometimes difficult to detect. They happen on a subconscious level. So if you don’t have your wife screaming at you to stop leaving your clothes on the chair, they may require some personal reflection to identify them. Others may stick out like a person wearing a ‘Go Lebron’ t-shirt at a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game. Take some time and examine yourself to recognize your habits, both good and bad.

  • Step Two: Replace bad habits with a positive alternative.

In my own progression toward becoming a better me and avoiding annoying my wife, I have decided to put my dirty clothes in the – wait for it – dirty clothes hamper. This has done some amazing things at my home. For one, I don’t get screamed at for throwing my clothes on the chair. Secondly, I have a comfy chair to drink my ice cold milk and eat Oreos in. It was win-win scenario.

It is best to select an alternative that will have benefits that are apparent and numerous. This will help you maintain the momentum and create a good habit instead of a bad one. For example, if you sit in a chair and eat Oreos while watching TV, a better alternative might be to run on a treadmill while you watch TV and eat Oreos. By using this technique you will burn the calories that you gain from eating cookies and improve your endurance for other things.

  • Step Three: Focus on the positive alternative instead of avoiding the negative one.

Spend your energy and focus on creating positive habits that will benefit you. I don’t know about you, but when I try to avoid something intentionally, I usually end up doing it because it is always on my mind. Alter your focus on modeling good behaviors. In my situation I started by trying to avoid throwing my belongings on the chair. Now I try to make sure I clean up the room every night before I go to bed. Guess what happens when I clean up? The chair often ends up empty until Man vs. Wild comes on.

Bad habits can be broken and good ones acquired, but they require the same amount of repetition and consistency that gradually developed your negative habits. I hear it only takes 21 days to form a habit. I will let you know. I am on day two.

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