We all have habits, some good, some not so good. But who’s to say what is good or not good – a bit of a value judgment – yes? My definition of a good habit is one that serves me in my life. Examples:
- brushing and flossing my teeth regularly because if I do, my teeth and gums will be healthier and will remain healthy longer than if I choose not to.
- practicing gratitude every day knowing that if I do, I will feel happier and remember how truly blessed I am in so many ways.
My definitions of bad habits are those things that don’t serve to help me be the best possible version of myself. Neither of these “bad habits” keeps me in the present moment with myself, the people I’m interacting with or the world around me. Examples:
- walking, holding my phone, checking for new emails or texts and being totally oblivious to the cars, trees and people around me.
- spending too much time in my head rehearsing conversations that may or may not ever happen!
How does one break habits that don’t serve you?
It seems to me that we spend a lot of our lives being unconscious of the choices we make as we go through the day, interacting with others and with ourselves, but how do we change that?
Step 1. Develop a conscious awareness of the habit that is no longer serving you. Notice the thoughts, feelings and emotions you have around it. Are you doing this habit because it is distracting you from facing something in your life that you don’t want to face or making you feel a bit less disconnected?
Step 2. Create a clear intention around breaking habits, which can be repeated over and over again. For example: I wanted to break the habit of constantly checking my phone. So, every time I reached for my phone, I left it in my purse, unless it was ringing, and I felt I could answer it without disturbing what I was doing. As I walked around doing errands or whatever I said to myself as I wanted to reach for my phone:
Checking my phone is only an illusion of connection. Being present in the moment is more important to me. Whatever is coming through on my phone can be dealt with when I’m ready to do so. I started checking my phone when I wanted to rather than as habitually as I had before. I noticed that by breaking this habit, I was so much more present in the world and was able to connect with the people I interacted with on a much deeper level, filling me with gratitude and appreciation for them.
Be patient with yourself. Honestly, it took me a month of doing this process to really break myself of the habit of constantly unconsciously checking my phone.
In summary to break a habit that doesn’t serve you:
Create a clear intention of breaking the habit, shift the energy around it by being conscious of the behavior and repeat a phrase that better serves you thereby creating room for transformation and a realm of possibilities.