In so many ways habits are simply the chains of the free
But just how much freedom do we really have, when our life is out of control to habits such as nail-biting, thumb sucking, procrastination etc?
If we really pause and think about it, we will see that so very much of our life is run on automatic pilot.
Our actions - and even the way we think - are so often fuelled and driven by subconscious patterns that have been learned when we were younger. We simply get into the habit of doing things that way.
There's no getting away from it, our habits influence and affect our life and our outlook on life.
As author Charles C. Noble has pointed out: 'First we make our habits, and then our habits make us'.
But what exactly is a habit?
Well, it's simply a behavior - or a way of thinking - that we continually repeat, time and again, very often unconsciously. And this is true for both good and bad habits.
At some time in our past we have learned a way of responding, a certain behavior, and then we repeat it until it just seems to become an automatic part of us.
Of course, not all habits are bad. Habits such as brushing our teeth, tying our shoes or even saying our prayers are examples of positive, life enhancing, good habits. They are good habits.
Yet good or bad, no-one was ever born with habits.
The simple fact is that they have to be learned - and then repeated until they stick. Repetition, after all, is simply a synonym for the psychological term 'reinforcement'.
And this is basically the way that they are removed - by identifying the cues that trigger the habit and then withdrawing the reinforcers and the subconscious patterns that sustain it.
A good hypnotherapist can help you accomplish both these things.
Once you've begun your program of change, it's a good idea to have something to replace the old habit with, at least in the beginning. Simply ending a habit without leaving some alternative mechanism in its place leaves the subconscious feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.
Replace the habits of thumb sucking or nail biting by snapping your fingers or with the reward of a sugarless mint, for example.
Reward the action that replaces procrastination with a little treat and pretty soon, the satisfaction of your accomplishment will become ample reward in itself.
Use positive affirmations in order to replace the habit of negative thinking: 'I can and I will', 'I am becoming more confident with each passing day', or 'Each day brings me closer to the person I want to become'.
Yes, it will take some effort and some persistence. But this is exactly the way in which you acquired your habits in the first place. If you'd given up after the first few times then it wouldn't be a habit.
Don't lose heart if things don't happen fast enough for your liking. Psychologists have estimated that it takes somewhere in the region of thirty days for a habit to be broken. That means thirty days of consistently applying yourself and giving it your all. 30 days of persistence.
For really powerful help in changing deeply entrenched habits, though, few things can be compared to hypnosis and good hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is ideal for dealing with habits because it is largely at the subconscious level of the mind that they are driven.
Hypnosis is a means of directly communicating with the subconscious mind. A well-trained, experienced hypnotherapist knows how to assist the individual's subconscious mind in changing its triggers and cues.
Good hypnotherapy can help modify and realign behavior, amending the patterns and beliefs on which that behavior is based.
When you've absolutely had enough of being the victim to bad habits, there is something you can do about it. Conquer those habits, take your life back and move forward.
You'll be happy you did!
About the Author
A leading British hypnotherapist, with practices in London and Birmingham, UK, Peter Field is a Member of the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy and Fellow of the Royal Society of Health. He is the author of numerous articles on psychotherapy, hypnosis and health. More of his useful articles and other helpful information can be found on his website: http://www.peterfieldhypnotherapy.co.uk