This week I’m giving you part one of a two-part article on breaking bad habits and self-sabotaging behavior. I wanted to break this up so we could talk about both the behaviors as well as the reasons these behaviors are hard to break and how to start making it possible to end them.
In this post, we’ll talk about the foundational issues and how to deal with bad habits in general. Next week I’ll share eight common bad habits and behaviors I encounter with my clients and how you can end them for yourself.
Bad habits are hard to break. We all know it because we all have at least one if not five bad habits that we have been carrying with us for a long time that we’d love to break. While there are solid reasons for why it’s hard to break these habits but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Breaking bad habits and ending self-sabotage requires us to find and accept our self-worth, being completely willing and able to let go of emotional baggage, dealing with our true feelings and inner conflicts and then changing self-limiting core beliefs that we tend to hold that feed into these habits.
Finding Your Self-Worth
Sometimes one of the biggest obstacles to letting go of bad behavior is believing that we’re deserving of having more or having better. This is something many of us can trace back to childhood where we may have been brought up to think that we do not deserve of love without doing something to receive it or that we aren’t deserving of success or money or recognition.
There comes a time when we have to rise above limitations from our upbringing and take responsibility for our own happiness. Part of this means looking to find where and how we aren’t feeling good enough in our lives. When we start to see where we don’t feel good enough or deserving, and we can acknowledge these feelings, we can start to trace it back to the source and deal with it.
Ask yourself what it is that you need to believe to see yourself as good enough. What are the negative self-worth feelings that you have and how can you replace them with positive ones? What can you do right now that would make you feel and truly believe that you are more worthy? When you start to notice these behaviors, see where they have limited you in the past and begin finding ways to change it, you start to really see how damaging these things can be.
Letting Go of Baggage
Once we find where our self-worth actually lies, we also start to notice the baggage we’ve been carrying along with it. Emotional baggage is what fuels these old patterns that we want to get rid of so we have to ditch the baggage. When we find ourselves stuck anywhere in our lives, there is almost always some kind of baggage that we’re holding on to that’s weighing us down and stopping us from moving. Once you find the root of any issues of self-worth its time to look at the baggage that has come along with it.
Start with honestly addressing all the feelings, thoughts and beliefs that are weighing you down and holding you back. Writing them down, just creating a list in a journal, is an excellent way to get them out of your head and out of your system. The act of journaling these things is cathartic in and of itself because it takes the thoughts and the energy out of your mind and makes them real on paper, which ultimately makes them easier to deal with. Look at each one identify where that feeling or belief comes from. Once you find the source of each one, it’s easier to know what or even who, you may need to eliminate from your life to remove the baggage.
When we work to let go of our baggage, we need to replace it with something positive. For each of these negative pieces of baggage find at least one positive thing that came from the more hurtful experience. When we discover and acknowledge the positive lessons from each of these negative situations, we take back our power and stop being a victim.
Deal With Your Inner Conflict
This can be one of the hardest parts of finding your self-worth and letting go of the baggage. Do you really want to do this? Do you really believe that you can and should have more? A lot of times we say we want something, but that’s because it’s what we think we’re supposed to want, not what we truly want. We all come to the point of being free of this conflict in our own time. Don’t rush, don’t push and don’t lie to yourself about how you feel. You’ll be able to actually make the changes needed and let go of your bad habits if these conflicts have been settled naturally.
This is another chance to simply sit down with a journal and be honest with yourself. Write yourself two letters about the situations you’re dealing with. Write one from each side of the conflict – the part of you that says you want resolution and the side that may be holding on or showing resistance. Let each side be honest with their reasons, their hopes, their fears and the why behind their perspectives.
When you’re done, put them down and leave them for now. Come back to them once a few days has passed and read them again. Compare the different insights each side has shared. How strong are your convictions on either side? Which one feels more “you” and seems most substantial? You may be surprised at which side appears to resonate the most with you in reflection.
Changing Self-Limiting Core Beliefs
At this point, you’re ready to change the core beliefs that you’re holding on. Now that you’re ready to let go of them they’ll let go of you, but it does take a little work. This is where you start working to reprogram your brain which is really a lot easier than you might think as long as you give it the necessary commitment, patience and persistence.
Begin by working with affirmations to help counter your existing negative thoughts. Affirmations should always take the form of positive “I” statements that talk as if whatever you’re addressing has already happened. This isn’t about wishing or wanting but living “as if”. That’s how you change your patterns – you change the way you talk to yourself which will change the way you think of yourself. So instead of “I will become more positive,” say “I am more positive.”
With this comes the need to be more present and mindful. You need, to be honest with yourself and fully aware of what you’re feeling in the moment. When you find yourself using negative self-talk you need to stop, acknowledge you’re doing it and then on the spot change it by using positive affirmations to turn your negative thoughts around. Don’t wait for a specific time of day, like at a time you set aside for journaling or meditation to do this work, do it at the moment when it happens. That’s when the emotions are raw and the power to really change your thoughts is strongest. Release your focus on the negative and shift it onto the positive.
This all takes practice, but it’s important to start here and begin to set the groundwork to be able to make big changes to old habits that feel like they would most certainly have to die hard if they are going to die at all. And above all, be gentle with yourself! Just starting to change these things is a big step so give yourself the time and space to go it one step at a time.
Make It Happen!
This month work to witness where your self-work is lacking, what emotional baggage needs to be released, how your inner conflict is playing out for you and then work to start changing your self-limiting core beliefs. Work with some of these practices and when we come back here in March I’ll have a list of 8 really damaging habits that most of us fall into at some point along with ways to change them so that you can see a shift in your life right away and start making some big things happen this year.