Most of us have bad habits, but we rarely think of the cost. When clients come into therapy wanting to break their bad habits, my first question to them is: “What is it costing you?”
Thinking about the negative impact of these behaviours on your relationships and your life can be a motivator for change. If you’re constantly checking your phone and answering emails around your spouse, kids or friends, you’re sending the message that they’re not as important. If you’re overeating or drinking too much, the cost is feeling less than vibrant the next day.
Think about the bad habits you’d like to break. Are you often critical of your partner or kids? Do you try to control others, rather than trusting that you can let go and things will work out? What is the cost of these habits? How do your bad habits impact your relationships?
We typically don’t think of the cost in the moment when we’re engaging in negative behaviours, but truly breaking bad habits and changing behaviour starts with remembering what it costs you in your life.
Start by trying to remember how negative you feel after engaging in the behaviour. What was the reaction of your spouse, kids or friends while you were constantly checking your phone? Did you make the most out of your cheap xanax bars time with them? Did they seem annoyed or hurt by your behaviour?
If you tend to overindulge in food or alcohol, remember how you feel the next day. How do you feel, physically and mentally, after overindulging? Do you beat yourself up after you overindulge? How does this habit affect your sense of self-worth and self-respect?
Remembering the negative ramifications of your bad habits will motivate you and push you to change your behaviour. You can even write down how you feel after engaging in a bad habit so you can go back to it at any time to remind yourself.
Therapists can also help you understand the impact of your specific habits, and they can help you to practice remembering the enormous cost in the moment.
Changing behaviour is a process that takes time and work. Be patient. This process begins with awareness of the behaviour, awareness of the cost of the behaviour, and then remembering the cost in the moment.
With practice you will begin to make better choices. And with time, you will see the results in your relationships and how you feel about yourself. Even if it has been hard to change in the past, right now is a new moment to try again.