We all face stressful and unwelcome moments in life from time to time; that’s just (unfortunately) an inevitable part of the human condition.
What isn’t inevitable, though, is for us to fall into negative and destructive behavioral patterns as a way of coping with those frustrations and difficult times. Yet this is nonetheless common – and can often become a serious and long-term source of turmoil and trouble.
There are all sorts of things people can do to help move past destructive behaviors, ranging from visiting drug rehab centers, to radically changing their living situations. Here, though, are a few “holistic” approaches you can try that might have a powerful impact on your life.
Challenge the “benefits” that you subconsciously perceive the habit to be providing.
Allen Carr, creator of the famous “Easy Way” system for quitting addictions – including smoking and alcohol – employed a line of reasoning and a therapeutic approach that was radically at odds with prevailing models of addiction and rehabilitation.
Instead of focusing on the addiction as a “disease,” he viewed it as an internal conflict between two competing “wills” within the individual.
One “will” wanted to quit the behaviour because it recognised that it was harmful and destructive. But the other “will” maintained the behaviour, because of certain perceived benefits – such as relaxation, social enhancement, et cetera.
Today, the “Easy Way” method is still one of the most popular and highly acclaimed out there for overcoming certain addictions. And the same principles can be used to help you move past negative behavioural patterns in other areas of your life, too.
If you keep doing something that you know is destructive, you can usually quite safely assume that part of yourself – likely a subconscious part – is still enamoured of the supposed “benefits” of the thing. Try and identify what those “benefits” seem to be, and then challenge them.
Focus on adding more positive meaning to your life, on an everyday basis.
Johann Hari, author of the book “Lost Connections,” looks at some very remarkable evidence that a key cause of addictions is a sense of general discontent, lack of meaning, and sorrow in life – rather than anything more purely “mechanical.”
Among other things, Hari gives examples of serious drug addicts turning their lives around virtually overnight, when their personal circumstances improved in other domains.
Focus on adding more positive meaning to your life on an everyday basis. That might mean spending more time with your loved ones, taking up hobbies that enrich your life, or taking steps to move into a line of work that you care about and believe it.
Generally speaking, letting go of destructive behaviours will be much easier when your life is richer and more meaningful in general.
Work on tackling negative “keystone habits” and implementing positive ones.
In his popular book, “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg identifies certain disproportionately powerful habits which he calls “keystone habits.”
There are both positive and negative “keystone habits,” the key thing about them is that they always trigger a cascade of other habits as a more or less automatic effect.
A negative keystone habit may be something like being chronically sleep deprived due to a late bedtime. A positive keystone habit may be something like working out on a regular basis.
Work on identifying and tackling those negative keystone habits, and implementing positive ones, and change may be quick and dramatic.
What methods have worked for you or a loved one when it comes to changing unwanted behaviors or habits? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!