Bad habits fall into two basic categories: External vices and internal vices.
External vices are the destructive behaviors that obviously come to mind: Smoking, overeating, compulsively shopping, drinking too much, nail-biting, or obsessing over social media. These are external bad habits or vices.
Internal vices may not be obvious to others, but when we engage in them, they can be every bit as life-draining. Negative self-talk, perfectionism, complaining (whether silently or aloud), comparison, jealousy, and procrastination are all examples of internal bad habits.
Whether we manifest bad habits externally or internally, it’s important to understand why we reach for them. Both types are an attempt at self-soothing. We turn to them in order to try to satisfy an energy balance or to fulfill some unmet need within us.
Think of it this way: You engage in persistent negative thinking for the same reason you reach for that second helping of dessert. You’re hoping for a reduction in stress; an outlet for frustration. In other words, we engage in bad habits because we want to feel better. But of course, because these habits deplete rather than add to our life force, they end up making us feel worse.
Using bad habits to correct an underlying energy imbalance provides only temporary relief.
The vices we turn to, hoping to find relief can slowly begin to limit our choices in life. This is because they are habit-forming, both chemically and psychologically. We become like a train rolling down the same track day after day. Over time we forget that this is only one of an infinite number of tracks we could choose. And in continuing these habitual ways of thinking and acting, we literally close ourselves off from countless other possibilities.
If triggered often enough, bad habits create deep grooves in our brains and nervous systems. When we’re honest, we have to admit they provide only temporary relief, but we continue to turn to them anyway.
Here are 3 powerful steps you can take to understand why you turn to bad habits, and what to do instead.
Step #1: Identify the emotional triggers that drive you to make the disempowering choice.
Behavior is always motivated by something. This means we take action because we’re seeking to experience pleasure or avoid pain. So, the next time you find yourself reaching for your bad habit (or catch yourself already doing it), stop. Take a couple of deep breaths, and allow yourself to feel what’s actually going on with you, emotionally and energetically.
What you will discover is that every time you reach for the bad habit, it’s for one of two reasons: You are either on auto-pilot and not even aware that you’re about to engage in the activity. Or, you’re in some form of acute emotional distress that you’re trying to find a way out of.
And so, before automatically continuing down the same proverbial train track, pause for a moment and just breathe. Close your eyes if you’re in an environment that supports it and places a hand over your belly or heart.
Then, as compassionately as you can, tune in with how you’re feeling in that moment.
Are you feeling bored? Confused? Anxious? Angry? Distinguishing the emotions driving your bad habit is the first powerful step to making a new, more nourishing choice.
Step #2: Identify the quality of relief you’re seeking by reaching for your vice.
As Step 1 above helped you identify the pain you’re seeking relief from. Step two allows you to connect to the essence of what you’re truly reaching for.
Beyond the immediate discomfort we use bad habits to soothe, there is an energetic state we are seeking. Maybe it’s the energy of ease, of comfort, or reassurance. Sometimes – if we’ve been feeling constricted or controlled – we turn to bad habits for a feeling of freedom or release.
See if you can go beneath the immediate need your vice is fulfilling, to the energy you are truly seeking. And please engage in this inquiry with an attitude of curiosity and non-judgment. You are an energetic being, and you are supposed to feel good. And when you don’t feel good, it’s completely natural that you would turn to any means to improve your mood.
Here are some words that might capture the essence of the energetic state you are reaching for: comfort, soothing, love, connection, excitement, interest, clarity, relaxation, belonging.
Once you’ve identified the emotional state you’re turning to a bad habit to fill, just acknowledge that it’s this deeper shift you’re really after.
Step #3: Identify at least 3 alternative ways that you could soothe your emotional trigger and experience the energetic state you’re seeking.
Remember that it’s a shift in your energy that you are ultimately reaching for every time you reach for your vice. And, because you are an energetic being, there are limitless ways to provide the shift in vibration you’re seeking. Actions such as breathing deeply, drinking water, stepping outside, stretching your body, taking a bath, going for a walk or a drive, calling a friend, watching an uplifting movie, or soaking in a hot tub are always life-affirming.
Acknowledging that you have the power to shift your energy is the key to releasing bad habits once and for all.
Christy Whitman is an energy healer, Master Certified Law of Attraction Coach, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All: A Woman’s Guide to Unlimited Abundance. Her latest book, The Desire Factor: How to Embrace Your Materialistic Nature to Reclaim Your Full Spiritual Power is on sale now at www.thedesirefactor.com. Christy communicates with, and for, The Quantum Council, a collection of non-physical ascended masters who desire to help humanity understand that we are divinely designed for well-being, abundance, success, and loving relationships. You can take the first step in alignment and creating your desires by a free 30-day program called Watch Your Words by going here: www.watchyourwords.com.