Habits: Behavior Modification


Habits: Behavior Modification

There are many habits that we do on a daily basis but are hard to unlearn. You might have done something like biting your nails, picking your nose, picking your hair or even thumb sucking. If you are trying to lose weight why not incorporate these into your weight loss plan and see if you can’t make a different change to your habits. Weight loss takes practice so don’t think you are doomed to fail if you don’t try.

A habit is simply a repeat of behavior which tends to happen unconsciously and regularly. It is usually something you have done hundreds of times before, perhaps while watching TV, reading a book or while working at your computer. Bad habits such as thumb sucking, biting your nails, picking your nose or even nail biting are all forms of bad habits and we often do them without thinking. They then become a habit, which is hard to unlearn. This is because we link bad habits with negative outcomes such as weight gain or bad skin conditions and so by breaking a bad habit we usually end up replacing it with another.

The most obvious form of habit is repetition. Having a pet is a repetitive behavior pattern that has now become embedded in us. However, a lot of other habits could be seen as repetitions, such as drinking in the same drink, making love in the same position, or using the same words when chatting on the phone. It is important to challenge these behaviors, which are forming as a habit. By replacing the behavior with an alternate one we often end up with a more positive outcome such as a decrease in cravings or an increased enjoyment from the behavior.

Changing your behavior pattern is not as easy as just moving your habits around, although that may well be possible with some types of behavioral training. If your behavior still persists then you may have to remove the association between those habits and your bad outcomes. For example, if you pick your nails every time you feel stressed, then you will have to stop picking them. Changing your behavior to a more positive one such as picking your nails every time you are happy will be much easier.

Changing habits that are hard to break can be very difficult, but there are some excellent programs that will help you. One such program is Habit Re-patterning by Dr. Davidson. This program uses a step-by-step approach to breaking habits through careful analysis and example. Another program that uses many of the same techniques is Habit Re-Concept by Richard Bandler and John Holt.

Changing habits that have become ingrained in us over time is sometimes impossible. That is why most people look for help with their habits. A change of environment and even a new family member will sometimes be enough to change a habit. Other times it may take years before habits are completely changed. With the help of an effective therapist and some additional help from the group, however, most people can break habits easily.