I’m sure I’m not alone—in fact I know I’m not alone since I talk my coaching clients through things like this too!— in having some habitual thought patterns that are not serving me. But bad habits and unhelpful habits are not who you are. They aren’t your identity, they are simply things that you have done or thought over and over and gotten used to. And because they are not who you are, they can be changed.
Today I’m going to show you how you can change bad habits and thoughts instantly!
Step One: Become Aware Of Thoughts And Detach Ourselves From Them
Hundreds and hundreds of thoughts float through our minds every day and a lot of them are recycled from days, weeks, months, and years earlier. The same thoughts will come into our heads day after day after day and we tend to just accept them as truth because they are familiar.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The very first step in breaking bad habits and habitual thoughts is to become aware of thoughts as they arise. Get used to paying attention to thoughts as they come into your head and observe them. You will find that you can look at them from an outside perspective, which means the thoughts are not you. You are watching them.
At this stage it is super important not to judge!
That’s a mistake many people make. If you are bothered by a negative thought and start getting frustrated or angry with yourself for having the thought you can’t detach from it. Instead of judging, move to step two…
Step Two: Give It Less Energy
When a thought comes up that you wish you didn’t have, instead of being angry with it say one of these things:
- that’s not true
- that’s not me
- that’s an old thought
- that’s silly
(I’ve had very good results with the “well, that’s just silly”!)
It takes the sting, power, and energy out of the thought when you just sort of shake your head and roll your eyes at it. It’s not truth, it’s not true just because you thought it, it doesn’t say anything about you. It’s just a thought and thoughts can be absurd sometimes.
Step Three: Put In A Reward System
The final step is what changes the bad habit quickly. It’s the reward.
Every behavior that we repeat gives us feedback in some way. The reward of a behavior is either that it increases our pleasure in some way or it decreases pain.
So what we are going to do is attach a reward to the letting go and detaching from that thought we no longer want.
Think about the activities you enjoy that are small and easy to do, like taking a walk, lighting a candle, or watching an episode of your favorite show. Now when you have a thought that you don’t like as soon as you defuse its energy with step two you’re going to immediately do one of those rewarding things that brings you pleasure.
Connecting the reward to the act of letting that thought go is what’s going to cause immediate change!
Try Changing a Bad Habit Right Now:
Become aware of a thought. Notice it but don’t judge it. Use one of the phrases from step two (“I don’t like that thought and I don’t believe it.”), then immediately do something rewarding that feels good. Here’s another phrase you can use with step two:
I have decided to…because…
I have decided not to listen to negative thoughts because I want to feel better.
Think about how much power you have. You can choose to detach yourself from a thought and change it. This is the first step on the journey of changing your life forever.
When you first start doing this you may encounter thoughts you find scary. That’s okay and it’s part of the process. Over time you will heal those thoughts and slowly replace them with more joyful thoughts. Hiding from the scary thoughts does not make them go away, but this practice does.
Have patience with yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out to me for help if you need support or guidance!