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How To Break Bad Habits Once and For All

How To Break Bad Habits Once and For All

Bad habits are destructive for your mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s chain-smoking, channel-surfing, nail-biting or emotional eating, there’s no denying the fact that our bad habits are harmful to our health. Bad habits aren’t something you’re born with. They are the result of months or years of consistent repetition. The good news? The inverse is also true; just like bad habits are created by consistent repetition,  you can break bad habits with consistent repetition. Challenge accepted? Keep on reading.

Find the root cause.

Your bad habits didn’t magically develop all by themselves. They have been built up by years of repetition and thus, they won’t be easy to eliminate. This is why most people who attempt to lose weight by going on a super restrictive crash diet fail. Attempting to remodel your behavior overnight is a doomed strategy that will cause you to get overwhelmed and quit. Before you do anything else, do some soul-searching to discover the root cause of your bad habit. For example:

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  • Do you eat fried foods or sweets because they offer you comfort on a stressful day?
  • Are you smoking cigarettes because they calm your nerves at work?
  • Does television offer a distraction from the problems you’re afraid to confront in the real world?

The first step to breaking a bad habit is to understand why it exists.

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Identify your triggers.

If you want to break your bad habit for good, I encourage you to begin a diary today. Write down any circumstances, thoughts, or feelings that you experience before lighting up a cigarette or eating a candy bar. For example, I once had a personal training client who experienced fierce cravings for ice cream. I asked her to start a diary and write down anything that transpired right before her cravings. We discovered something very interesting: she didn’t want ice cream at all. Her true desire? More attention from her boyfriend. She felt neglected and unappreciated because her partner didn’t spend much time with her, and any time she experienced stress due to this issue, her craving followed. Being aware of your triggers will help you find the true sources of stress that need attention. You will also be much more likely to avoid temptation when you are able to look out for the triggers behind the wheel of your decisions.

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Pick a positive alternative.

Breaking bad habits requires consistent practice and repetition. To re-wire your brain, choose a positive behavior to replace your bad habit. Recall my past client who reached for a bowl of ice cream any time she felt neglected by her boyfriend. She had a cute puppy who she just adopted, so I asked her to start taking her pup outside for a brief walk every time she experienced her trigger. At first, she sometimes came back inside to eat a bowl of ice cream (at least she walked off a few of the calories) but as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” After several weeks of repetition, she successfully replaced her bad habit with the positive alternative. Don’t become discouraged if it takes you a few days or weeks to make any progress. Bad habits built up over months and years are not easy to break. Keep your head high and maintain a Big Picture mindset. This is NOT a 30-day program–it’s a life-long journey.

Hold yourself accountable.

Feeling brave? Proclaim your intention to break your bad habit to the world. Post a status on Facebook to inform your entire network of your goal. Sound scary? It is. But making your friends aware of your goal will motivate you unlike anything else. Added bonus: you will instantly create a cheerleading squad who will encourage you that you can do it.

Go forth and crush it.

Anyone can break bad habits by following the steps outlined here. You are capable of accomplishing anything you set your mind to. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and comment below with a bad habit you intend to eliminate. Have a question? Ask away. I’m here to support you in any way I can.

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More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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