“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”
Mark Twain

So you want to end a bad habit. Whether it’s overeating, smoking, gambling, or some other destructive behavior, the issue seems insurmountable. You have tried to curb your indulgences. You have tried going cold turkey OR you have tried to do something regularly such as exercising or eating better. But it never “sticks” and now your health, physical and/or mental, has been compromised. Your close friends and family have pretty much given up hope that things will improve. Why is ending unhealthy or destructive behaviors so difficult?

In order for something to become a habit, it must provide some sort of benefit or reward. In the case of destructive behaviors, the power of the reward overrides the consequences. In a minor example, we all know the allure of the second and third piece of chocolate, despite its sugar and fat content. We push the reality of the consequences for the instant gratification of that luscious, albeit brief experience of chocolate indulgence – the taste, the texture, the little sugar “bump.”

Fortunately, there are several cognitive adjustments you can make to help break the offending habit. Find a different, healthier alternative to the chocolate eating, such as drinking water or tea instead, or having a piece of fruit. If the weight gain from your sweet intake is what is bothering you, replace your cravings with exercise. Every time you feel like going for the sweet, go to the gym or do 25 pushups. Identify what is going on with you emotionally before the craving sets in and face those feelings instead of drowning them in chocolate. And every time you succeed in changing your behavior, congratulate yourself. It’s no small task.

Of course, there are destructive behaviors and unhealthy habits that require more intervention than just simple cognitive behavioral changes. Counseling can assist in identifying the unwanted behaviors and give you the tools to modify them. Contact Piper Walsh about what your options are and how she can help put you on a course to a more healthy way of life.