Habits don’t pursue us 24/7. Rather, if you track your behavior you will find that your habit challenges are stronger at certain times than others. It is the mixture of time, people and places that make up the perfect storm. You can gain a lot of ground in your quest to change your habits and crush your cravings if you focus on those “triggers” and create–and rehearse–a plan for managing them ahead of time.
Before you make a plan, you need to change your mindset
Change is not easy or else everyone would be successful at it. A lot of the problem is with our state-of-mind. We get used to the way we live and it can be scary to go outside of that comfort zone. I have seen people in situations where they have been teased, ridiculed, demeaned and even abused and still do not want to change. We have gotten used to our “normal” and have learned to survive there. This is where the fear of the unknown comes in. If we risk changing—we fear that things could get worse…or what if things get better? Chances are we might get bad again and we don’t know if we could handle the let-down! So, what happens? We fall back to the do-nothing pattern of thinking, “better and safer to stay where we are.”
ARE YOU KIDDING?
Seriously, change can be tough, because a lot of the time we would rather stay where we because we are used to it. It seems illogical, but the fear of change is a real issue. This is where faith comes in. Faith in God and His help. Faith in yourself and your ability to cope–even if things do not work out. What do you have to lose? You need to get rid of the “set” mindset that says, “Things are okay here, no sense rocking the boat!” and substitute a “Change’ mindset that says, “Change is good. Change allows me to grow, learn, expand my horizon. I don’t have to fear change. Instead, I should fear NOT changing!” Changing is not a pass/fail test. It is a growth strategy. It is time to push toward more maturity and make some changes.
Be Like An Inventor
An inventor loves to see if they can make something work. An inventor loves to learn. They don’t give up if it doesn’t work out the first time. They love learning and see a failure as a way to improve. This is a “Growth” (What I call a “Change”) mindset. It is exactly what we need to succeed in changing our habits.
However, many of us find ourselves a prisoner of shame or fear. When fear or shame have you in their grip, the last thing you want is another test. You don’t want to fail. You have worked hard at being acceptable, a success at what you do. You may believe that you are as good as you will get. This is a “fixed” mindset.
A ‘fixed” mindset says, “I cannot try because I may fail, and I am afraid of the rejection or ridicule. I would rather stay where I am. I have made it comfortable here.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are not happy where you are, or you wouldn’t be reading this book. And your view of ridicule is overrated. You are not going to be banished or annihilated if you don’t succeed the first time! Look at where you are at and start to “invent” some ways to change!
Be Your Own Detective
I have always loved Sherlock Holmes. There is something about his deductive reasoning that excites me. To manage your triggers, you too are going to have to utilize deductive reasoning. You are going to have to look for clues, motive and modus operandi. You need to hire “yourself” to really investigate what is going on. And here is the key, you need to be the best Detective possible as if your client’s life depended on it! As if you were doing it for someone you loved! If you don’t who will?
Be Your Own Change Agent!
A change agent not only sees what is—but they also envision what can be. They see that things could be better and pursue it. They know that many things are the way they are for a reason. The secret is to find out what the reasons are and change them. They know that change is not easy. It is not easy turning around an ocean liner! It takes time–but change they must. If nothing changes—then, guess what? NOTHING CHANGES! They know that a real war is often a series of battles, so they pursue one battle at a time and eventually win the war!
You can change! Be your own change agent!
Look for emotional reasons that trigger your habit
Many times, our triggers are associated with emotional events. As you become your own detective see if there is a correlation between your habit and the following:
Check the ones that apply to you.
I participate in my habit…
___ After celebrating something
___ After sex
___ When it feels like there is nothing to do
___ After being yelled at
___ After coming home following a great time
___ When finished with a list of chores
___ After getting a lot of bills in the mail
___ After paying the bills
___ After watching a horror movie
___ After hearing distressing news
___ After arguing with my spouse
___ After making up with my spouse
___ After getting my paycheck
___ After wasting money
___ During or after feeling anxious
___ During and after feeling depressed
___ When I feel a headache or body ache
___ When there is nothing to do
___ After I have been frightened
___ When and after I feel sad
___ When I feel bad or have felt bad about myself
___ After I feel guilty about something
___ When I feel a sense of shame
___ After I become angry
You will notice that a majority of these fall under the category of Boredom, Celebration, and Painful Emotions. Write down any ones that are relevant to you and list the ones that you need to REPROGRAM!
Manage the situation you live in
When we change a habit or try to quit we will find triggers everywhere! So in order to succeed, we must manage our locations, environments, the people we are with, our thoughts, our feelings and even the media we expose our self to.
Manage your locations – Residence
Chances are, your habit is very strong at home. Well, it’s not always easy to uproot and move so you will have to manage your current location better! You need to think hard about where in your home the triggers are strongest and do things to change the environment. What areas of the house offer the most temptation? (Check them below)
___ Living room
___ Dining room
___ Family room
Where were you triggered?
There are many things that trigger your craving. Look at the areas you checked off. Is there a common area where these triggers were most effective? Think about it, where were you when you became triggered? Where is the area where you finally got up and started the search to fulfill your craving? That room (or multiple rooms!) might need a makeover. It depends on how often this room fulfilled its purpose. Are there artifacts from the past that perhaps need to be in a less prominent? Things like pictures that take you back to the “good old days” You must stop romanticizing addictive behavior. (This is called euphoric recall) What led you to a place of utter despair are not the “GOOD ole days.” If there are pictures, trophies, music, clothing that have euphoric recall–it is time to replace them. Perhaps there are negative triggers. Are there reminders of someone who has died and is still bringing up grief? Perhaps the reminders could go to another place in the house. This is a new day, make a new place.
If the habit you are trying to change is associated with smells or familiarity, then you perhaps need to “freshen” up the room! Change the décor and positioning of the furniture. Get rid of old fabrics that might have strong smells that would remind you of old habits. If needed, any pictures or reminders of your habits must go. It’s a new start. Any romantic, nostalgic or macho notion of your habit around the room must be taken out. This is a healthy new beginning and you don’t need to hang on to trophies or reminders of the old you. If you are spiritual, then have a spiritual cleansing of the space. Rededicate the room to a new life!
Check out your vehicles as well. Was this where your habit was prevalent? This is a new beginning, you need to take the vehicle and clean it out! Detail it. Deodorize it. Get rid of any reminders that could be triggering. Change the channels on the radio. Clean out the glove box and trunk. Put in anything that celebrates your new life with your new habits.
Where you had your emotional ups and downs
Our emotions often lead us to strong cravings. Where is it that you did the depressive or anxious thinking that led to your participating in your habit. Take that room and redo it. Move the furniture around. You will be surprised how walking to the same chair in the same place can trigger an old way of thinking. Move it! Get a new chair! Anything to break these minor habits that trigger our habit of addictive thinking. Brighten up the room! Let the sunlight in! More lights will help. Put out new pictures. Bring in new music. Get rid of things that may remind you of a negative past. Put up pictures of your new life, new friends, good times. This is a new beginning and you need to have a home that symbolizes this.
Answer this very important question
What can you do in your home to manage and/or rid yourself of your triggers?
Where you work and frequent
Your habit may have been a very big part of your workday. Not at first. But as time went on it may have been transferred to your way to and from work, to your desk to other parts of the workday. Usually, that is not recognized until after someone has stopped for a while. Work and other locations to and from work can be rife with triggers.
Way to work
When you think of your travel to work every day were there particular places you liked to stop that was associated with your habit? If so, plan a new route. This is a new day. If that is not a choice, then practice visioning yourself going by the location and not being triggered. Say out loud, “This place holds nothing for me!” Break allegiance with it.
Was there a particular radio station that you listened to that identifies more with your addictive lifestyle than your new habit free life? Turn the channel. Take it off your auto-button selection. Replace with stations that support what you are doing now.
List any triggers on the way to work
Answer: What are you going to do with them?
Where you went on the job
If traveling was part of your job and you had places where you participated in your habit, then it would be worth it to think about other ways to travel and still handle your work efficiently. Where you ate, where you stopped to relax or celebrate. Places where you frequented with people from that old life. Gone! You must make alternative plans. If you knew that you would catch the bubonic plague going that way, you would have no trouble planning an alternative route. This is much more serious than that.
List any triggers at any place you went with the job?
Answer: What are you going to do with them?
At your work
It may be that you stay at work all day. Many people have used work as a place to be involved with their habits. Place at the factories, out in the yard, at the desk–these could be places that you associate with the old behavior. You will need to handle this environment in the same way you did at home.
1. Clean it up
2. Take away old reminders. This includes any souvenirs, pictures, letters, articles anything that glorifies the times that you spent in your habit. Think of it as an affair. If you really wanted to break an affair and show your spouse that it is over, you would not have anything around that would take you down that road again.
3. Lunch or break time – If these were the times you engaged in the habit, then you need to disassociate yourself with all of the places you would go to or who you would go with. If you must go on some trips with the company where your habit is an acceptable practice, then visualize yourself saying, “No thank you!” Rehearse what you would say if a temptation presented itself. Do this until it becomes natural and you feel confident with anyone’s response to you. You do not have to be apologetic about saying, “No thank-you, rather celebrate the new, “I don’t need it,” you!
List any triggers at your work
Answer: What are you going to do with them?
On the way home from work
The way home from work could be the most difficult of all your situations. The day is over, your resistance is down. Your mind has been thinking about this time all day and now there is a full-blown craving going on. Where would you go? What landmarks would remind you of these times? Where there stores you would stop and feed your habit? Perhaps you would meet people at different places? It would be great to plan another way home. Perhaps you looked at it more as celebratory. If so, you need to think of great alternative ways to celebrate the new life you have now!
List any triggers on the way home from work
What are you going to do with them?
You would be surprised how our appearance is tied into our state of mind. Take drugs for example. If you did it out of counter-cultural attitude chances are you dressed the part. You had the clothes, hairstyle, tattoos, and accessories that went along with it. Then why, if you are trying to quit, would you keep the same appearance that you had? Every time you look in the mirror or get dressed you are activating the old state of mind. Get a different hairstyle, change your wardrobe, quite accessorizing the same way, have the tattoo erased. This is a new day, it is time to quite triggering yourself.
This can apply to other habits as well. Many people who have a problem with weight have given up and wear clothes that anticipate and support a heavier body size. Change clothes. You may have certain clothes that you associate with your gambling addiction. Change. The outfits, make-up, hairstyles, accessories all might be associated with the lifestyle that you are trying to change. Take a bold step and reinvent your appearance and accept the new you.
What part of your appearance is associated with the habit you are trying to break?
How can you change your appearance to support your new habits?
Triggers are real but with good planning, you can manage them!