Habit Failure Warning Signs

The secret to any habit change is to know when you are being tempted either to participate in the habit you are trying to quit or renege on the one you are to start. You won’t find clues on a billboard in blazing colors telling you are in danger of relapse. You won’t have some mystical voice call you on your cell phone saying, “Careful, you are about to sabotage your habit challenge. Unfortunately, it is very hard to become aware of things that are leading to a relapse of an old habit or failure in starting a new one. However, besides monitoring your cravings you can also monitor some of our attitudes and behaviors that start us down the road. This will help prevent you from starting the kind of behavior that will cause you to fail in your habit challenge. Let’s look at some of the things that people do that lead to a bad ending.

Have you experienced any of the Habit failure warning signs?

Hanging around people, places and things that will tempt you?
This is serious and can lead to failure. You would be amazed how many people try to start a new habit or stop a serious one and think they can keep on doing the same old things they did, go to the same places or hang around the same people. We fool ourselves over and over again. Triggers are real and until you are seasoned in your new behavior it is best to stay away from temptation.

Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Hanging around people, places and things that will tempt you?

Beating yourself up over a slip
Yes, you may have slipped but this is a new day. Degrading yourself serves no purpose other than to subconsciously give you an excuse to slip again. Get over it. Your goal is still worthwhile and within sight. What you can do is to spend some time considering what went wrong and correct it. If your slip indicates a weakness in the way you are doing things, then correct it.

Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Beating yourself up over a slip

If you are at a place where slipping has become the norm then consider starting over and go back to the first chapter of this book, Getting Started and start over again. Check out some of our other videos and training material. If needed find professional help for your habit. You are worth doing this right.

Thinking of giving up
Everyone that has pursued a worthwhile goal has had times when it got tough. Feeling like quitting is common. However, thinking about it doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Sure, you may be feeling down but your goal is worthwhile. It is worth pursuing and most of all you are worth it. Here are some things you can do to help you quickly get back on track.
1. Call one of your encouragers, mentors or sponsor. Let them know how you are feeling. They will help you get back on track.
2. Take a deep breath and relax. Calming down will help you get a better perspective on things.
3. Eat some protein. If you have not been eating right you will be amazed how the brain will respond to a protein pick-up. A deficiency in neurotransmitters can cause a momentary crisis. Protein can help with the needed amino acids needed to jump-start your brain.
4. Pray about it. Use your spiritual resources to help you get a better perspective and to increase your faith and hope.
5. Reverse your view – Look at your situation optimistically. You aren’t finished yet. You are on the right track. Stick with the program, you won’t regret it.
6. Go for a brisk walk or other forms of exercise. It is amazing how you will feel after some exercise. Your blood will be pumping, your brain will get oxygen, your endorphins will rise. After a little exercise, you will be able to think better.

Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Thinking of giving up

Dwelling on how good it used to be
In addictions, we call this awfulizing sobriety. It is an old mind trick. How soon we forget the positive reasons we started this program and when the cravings come we look for an excuse to quit. One of the best ways is to glamorize the past and forget the real reasons why we are pursuing our goal in the first place. The past wasn’t that good, or you would not be trying to change. You know you need to do this. You know you want to. Stay on the course!

Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Dwelling on how good it used to be

Starting to doubt if you really need to drop the habit or add the new one
Again, this is common. That is why we had you list in Step 1, number 2 the reasons for pursuing your goal. Go back and review them. Think about them. Visualize how good it will be when you finish this goal. Feel the satisfaction that will come as your life is different because of this goal. Recommit yourself to accomplishing the goal you set out before you.

Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Starting to doubt if you really need to work on this habit or add the new on (things are okay)

Craving is really starting to bother me
When you start to feel cravings for something you are trying to stop or something that impedes with a habit you are trying to start you need to take immediate action. Something has caused your brain to go into a craving zone and if you don’t do something it will be relentless. You can go to the button on the app and follow 5 Steps To Stopping a Craving. You could also call a friend, distract yourself, leave the area and do something else. Take it seriously and get help.

Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Craving is really starting to bother me

Review and make adjustments
Rate 1-5 yourself on following Habit Failure Warning Signs (1= no struggle, 5 overwhelmed with a struggle)
1 2 3 4 5 Hanging around people, places and things that will tempt you?
1 2 3 4 5 Beating yourself up over a slip
1 2 3 4 5 Thinking of giving up
1 2 3 4 5 Dwelling on how good it used to be
1 2 3 4 5 Starting to doubt if you really need to work on this habit (things are okay)
1 2 3 4 5 Craving is really starting to bother me

Look at the ones that you have a 3
This should cause some concern. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to bring this back to a 1 or a 2? Here is some help.
1. Remember why you started this
2. Consider all the benefits you have had so far from succeeding on your Habit Challenge
3. Play the movie out to the end. Where has giving in taken you before? Do you really want to be that person again? If not, get your self back to a 1or 2.

Consider the ones that you have scored a 4 or 5
This is the danger zone. I cannot emphasize enough that you need to own where you are and do something about it. Relapse doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is a process. If you have a 4 or 5 on one or more of these consider the following steps.
1. Call someone you trust that knows what you are going through and can help you.
This is crucial. DO NOT ISOLATE! Getting a 4 or 5 is not something to be ashamed about. It is something that you need to tell someone about. They have been there, they can help you. As you get it out of your head you will find it begin to lose its power.
2. Go to your support group. If you don’t have a support group, find one. You can’t do this alone you need the support of others who have been down the same road as you. Get support!
3. Use your spiritual resources. Call upon God. He can and will help.
4. Change the channel! You can’t help what thoughts come into your head, but you can decide if you want to believe them or dwell on them. Say out loud, “Stop this! I don’t want to think and feel this way!” Then distract yourself with something else that interests you.
5. Don’t buy the lie! Ask yourself, “What am I believing about myself when I am doing this? If you think about it you will get an answer and here is the truth, it is a lie!!! You don’t need friends that are going to pull you down. You don’t need to be around places that are triggers. You don’t need to give up. It was never better than you have been while doing this program. You do need to stay with this program. You do not have to give in to cravings. Renounce the lies that you are listening to and pronounce the truth!
6. Get professional health. Sometimes we need a professional to help us adjust our thinking. If you broke your leg you would go to a Doctor. This is much more serious than a broken leg!

Watch for the warning signs and take appropriate action. Also, read the next section about stopping a craving.

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Six Steps To Making A Change – Step 6 Managing Triggers

young-businessman-jugglingHabits 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
___ Kitchen
___ Bedroom
___ Bathroom
___ Garage
___ Basement
___ Vehicles
___ Other

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?

Your appearance
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!

Six Steps To Making A Change – Step 5 Working the Habit Formula

Yield sign

Step 5 Working the Habit Formula
The goal of this program is to help you manage your habits. As you consider what habits you have, you will want to extinguish some. You may want to add different habits in their place. Replacing habits that you wish to terminate with a better choice, is by far the best approach. If you want to stop over-eating sugar enriched foods, then the best thing to do is to replace them with a healthier alternative. There are other things you could do as well. We want to look at how habits work so we can effectively make the changes we desire.

To change our habits, we must consider the three parts of the habit formula

The Habit Formula
For some time, it has been taught that our behavior is due to a stimulus which then elicits a response that results in a reward.

A Habit
1. There is a cue, (trigger) that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use
2. There is the routine, (behavior) which can be physical or mental or emotional
3. There is a reward, (benefit) which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. If it is, you will keep repeating it and over time, this loop becomes more and more automatic.

The trouble comes in when the cue elicits an urge that is so strong we cannot ignore it and even when we know better, we go ahead with the behavior. We can’t seem to break the habit. The good news is that we do not have to be slaves to our habits or cravings. Habits and even addictions can be extinguished, ignored, obeyed or replaced. We do this by playing with the three components.

There are various ways to describe this phenomenon that I call the “Habit Formula.”

The Habit Formula is basically:

• Cue or Stimulus
• Behavior or Response
• Reward or Gain (Benefit)
The following are some ways of dealing with habits and cravings

1. Try Changing the Cue (Trigger)
A cue or trigger is what gets us going with our habit. It can be in our environment, our body or in our mind. It could be something we see, hear, smell or feel; something we sense or something we perceive or think. Whatever it is, it causes a reaction or behavior and seeks a reward or end result. There are different ways we can affect the cue in order to change our behavior.

2. Deny the legitimacy of the cue
For the purposes of this step, we will consider how one should sometimes deny the legitimacy of the cue. For, example with addictions, many times the cue is false even though it feels so real. I call this a “false alarm due to faulty wiring.” This is a brain thing. Something comes into our perception and the striatum starts pumping dopamine giving us the excitation or agitation that says, “I have to have it.” It is a false alarm or faulty wiring because there is no legitimate reason we cannot say, “No, I do not have to have it!” But our brain has made it such an imperative based on some sort of belief that is terrorizing. We feel like we are going to die if we do not indulge. Now, most of us have never felt that strongly simply because we automatically go into our habit. But when we first start to resist and say “no” our brain will continue pumping dopamine thus fighting us, making us feel we must do it. Remember the brain’s job is to protect us and it feels that we are in imminent danger because of the false alarm. It is like standing in front of a coming truck. You don’t resist the urge to move. You move out of the way.
However in most of our habits and addictions, here is the ironic thing. This imperative is based on a lie! We are not going to die! We are not in trouble. We are not going to fall apart if we ignore the urge. It is a lie. The brain is giving you a faulty signal! No different than you thinking there was a monster in the basement when you were a child! The alarm goes off. It seems like a real danger. It feels like panic and you feel the urge to react. It is as if your hand is approaching a hot stove. YOU MUST move your hand. However, in this case, THE STOVE IS COLD! So, when the bogus cue emerges we need to divert our attention to something else.

3. Change any or all three, CUE, BEHAVIOR, and REWARD

It is easier than you think! (No really!)
There are 5 steps that you can use to change the dynamics of a habit.

A. Recognize the CUE (sensation)
Most urges are accompanied by a physical sensation. It helps to be aware of these and recognize them. So, go through this mental exercise and sense it in your body – Where is it? What shape and size? Is it hot or cold? Does it tingle or vibrate? Is it dull or sharp? This is the root of emotion. The original meaning of emotion was “to move”. Emotions are really sensations that get us to move, it was later that we began to call these sensations, “feelings.”
You need to recognize this trigger in your body. You cannot ignore it–chances are that it has already tricked you into action. You want to identify it NOW (first) so you can choose NOT to react to it. This is one of our basic principles in Emotional Resilience that we call, “Emotional Recognition!”

B. Change the meaning of the CUE by renaming it as a false alarm
You need to say to yourself, “This is not real! It is a false alarm!” This is harder than you think. We are wired to react to an internal alarm. But remember, it really is faulty wiring! We are only acknowledging what our prefrontal cortex should have done in the first place. The pre-frontal cortex should have canceled it–but it did not get a chance. Over time the signals between the amygdala and cortex have become weakened. The good news is that you can correct that. By ignoring the alarm now, you are retraining your brain to treat this false alarm as an actual false alarm. You do this by calming down and taking a deep breath or two. You are going from the sympathetic nervous system (gas pedal) to parasympathetic nervous system (the brakes). There are many different ways to calm oneself.
· Systematic relaxing (see MindSkills)
· Slowly breathe out and in three times deep breaths (count of 5 in 5 out)
· Go to an imaginary peaceful place that you have practiced with and relax
· Think of a time of appreciation with someone
· Focus on the presence of God and His love for you – Give it to Him

C. Change the BEHAVIOR by affirming that you do not have to obey the false alarm
This is important. You need to say out loud, “I do not have to obey you! You are a false alarm!” Not only does this help you think rationally—it gets busy training the prefrontal cortex while separating you from the cue. This buys precious time during those reactionary milliseconds after the alarm goes off!
Other things you can say:
· “I am not going to die if I ignore this!”
· “I have done this before (if you have) and can do it now!” (If you haven’t then say, “Others have ignored this, so can I!”)
· “I don’t want to be that person!”

D. Change the BEHAVIOR by distracting yourself – Ride the wave
The power of an urge or craving is hard to ignore, especially when you feel the urge is serious and you must obey it. So now that you know that the urge is a false alarm, even though it feels strong, you can give yourself permission to ignore it. Unfortunately, most people are not successful. Why? Because when we focus on “not thinking about something” we only increase our ability to think about it. Add to this the fact that we can also develop a “resistance fatigue” which weakens our resolve, and we give in! We see this in studies on willpower. Our willpower is far less at night when we are tired and have resisted temptation all day. Of course, this is often when we need it the most.

So how do you “ignore” or “resist” this strong craving? You do it by focusing on something else. You need to distract yourself. It is like riding a wave. Once you are on the wave you don’t focus on the wave anymore. You focus on the shore and “ride the wave.” That big wave soon dissipates onto the shore. This is how your urge will act. Twenty minutes is about the length of time an average urge lasts. You can ignore it by distracting yourself on something you like for that long. Chances are after a few minutes of distraction you will forget all about it.

The distracting of yourself, however, MUST be deliberate. Get something that excites you. Perhaps a book you have been wanting to read or some favorite music. Get up and move around. Jump into a hobby, tend a garden, take a walk! The opportunities are endless. And don’t forget outside support! Call a friend and talk. Going to a support meeting is always a good idea.

E. Relive™ – Change the REWARD by visualization of better behavior and outcome
When you succeed you should immediately replay what just happened in your mind. Then visualize how good it felt to achieve your goal! Feel it in your body. Let a rewarding excitement wash over you. Do it again a couple hours later. Why? Because you want to retrain your brain not to react negatively to that cue again. Learning comes from experience. You want to tell the brain that there is a new satisfying reward if we continue this new behavior. Why should you succeed only once? When you relive what you just did through visualization, it is as if you actually just did it again. The more sensory-rich your visualization is the more the brain takes it in as if it were real. Why not get three or four experiences out of your one success? It will help you learn this new way of behaving to the cue. With time the old response to the cue will be ignored.

By working with the cue, behavior and reward you will see your new habit challenge become a reality.

Six Steps To Making A Change – Step 4 Do’s, Don’ts and Desires

2014-11-19-dodontWhen you consider habits, whether it is one that you are adding or one that you are taking away there are always behaviors that are more important than others. These key behaviors influence others and if not taken seriously can ruin your whole effort. In this step, we will consider some of the behaviors that you don’t want to do, some that you do want to do and how to keep the desire and motivation strong so you can accomplish your goal.

Don’t
This is the easiest place to start. What are some of the things that you don’t want to do that if eliminated, will help you move forward? Think in terms of certain behaviors, triggers or thoughts that you need to avoid at all costs, especially early on in the program. For example, if your habit goal is to stop eating sugar, there are some other things you may need to stop in order to be successful. Ask yourself, “What things do I want to stop?” For example, “Stop going to the donut shop for coffee.” “Stop grocery shopping without a specific list of what you are buying.” “Stop going on coffee break without a healthy alternative.” For each habit, you are trying to eliminate or acquire, fill out the following.

What is the habit goal ? _________________________________________________________

What behaviors do you need to eliminate in order to succeed?

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

What triggers (Places, people or things that would cause you to begin the behavior that you are trying to eliminate or cause you to veer from the habit you are starting.) do you need to negate from your life?
__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

What thoughts would cause you to sway from your habit challenge?
__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

Do
List some of the things you need to do to succeed at your goal.

If your goal is to run 30 minutes a day–it is easy to write down “run 30 minutes a day.” That is obvious. However, we are looking for those other things that will make it possible. For instance;
• Set my alarm on the phone for 6:00 a.m.
• Go to bed at 10:00.
• Get a good pair of shoes.
• Plan a great route. Etc.

If your goal is to begin eating low carb meals—then it might mean substituting what you normally eat with something else.

List those things that you want to start doing.

What behaviors

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

What meetings, social groups, activities should you start to attend

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

Desire
Desire is what makes it all happen. What are the desires you are really seeking after? What emotional payback would there be from accomplishing you goal? What pleasure, confidence, emotions would accompany the reaching of your goals? What physical rewards might there be? Is there a monetary potential that would be the result of making your goal? Are there any Spiritual benefits that would be the result of you achieving your goal?

Five elements that work together to make the desire to come true
1. You know in your heart you need a change
2. Others have confirmed that you need a change and are pressuring you
3. Circumstances have shown you that it is better to change than to stay doing what you are doing
4. Your desire for change is strong and motivated from inside you, not outside
5. There is a new plan, program, tool, something that is novel that speaks to you and says, “This is it! This could work!”

Desires are usually associated with some kind of reward. We are wired for reward so it makes sense to use the anticipated reward as an incentive when your discipline is weaning or you become discouraged. Rewards vary. They can be of an emotional, physical, monetary and/or spiritual nature. Take a few moments and think of the rewards that you will benefit from when you accomplish your habit challenge.

Emotional reward

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

Physical reward

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

Monetary rewards

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

Spiritual benefits

__________________________ _______________________ _______________________

With this in mind, spend a moment visualizing yourself succeeding and reaping the various rewards. Let it sink into your heart and bring you real joy. Keep this list in front of you. Perhaps there is a picture, drawing, a song or something symbolic that will be reminded of your desire and hopefully reignite it. If so keep it somewhere that you can encounter it often.

With this deep desire in your heart recommit yourself to accomplishing your habit goals.

 

6 Steps To Changing A Habit – Step 3 Aquire Tools and Knowledge

1 (2)Changing a habit or adding a new one is a large undertaking. We are looking at 6 steps that will help in this process. This is Step 3

Tools and knowledge – start learning now
There is a learning curve in any worthwhile endeavor. Adding a new habit or changing an existing one is no exception.

Adding or dropping a habit – Habits are made up of a stimulus, a response, and a reward. When it comes to the habit you are trying to change there is no doubt a strong trigger or you would not be reading this article. There is a continuum of craving that exists with any habit. The stronger the urge, the more the craving, the more support, tools, and knowledge you will need to overcome it.

When you think of the habit you are trying to drop, rate the strength of the urge to participate in the habit on a scale 1-5

1——2—–3—–4—–5 The stronger the urge the more you will need knowledge and tools.

Knowledge – There are many books and other materials that you can find that talk about habits. There are also many books, videos, and articles that you can study. Of course, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the knowledge. Unfortunately, it can get confusing when you are studying various opinions at the same time. You can also get what is called, “Paralysis of analysis.” This is where you have information overload and never get about making changes.

What do you need to learn in order to be successful?

Tools – There are many tools that can assist with many different kinds of habits. Computer software, apps for your phone, workbooks, groups and various meetings are tools that you can use to maintain your new goal. Depending on the habit there may be equipment that can make a difference in your success or not. How often we approach a project and become discouraged because it is taking too long where the right kind of tool could reduce the time spent and be more encouraging to you as you attempt to succeed at your habit challenge. Like knowledge, you can distract from your goal by having to learn new tools or to try out different ones. There is a time for research and experimenting to stop and move on to the habit challenge.

What tools are you going to use?

What are you going to read, listen to, attend or watch that will help you in accomplishing your new habit?

Changing a habit or adding a new one just doesn’t happen by itself. Prepare yourself and get the knowledge and tools that will give you a great chance at success.

6 Steps To Changing a Habit – Step 2 Pick Your Team

Supportive-community

We are looking at the 6 Steps to Changing a Habit. Today it is Step 2 – PICK YOUR TEAM – Get the support you need

You have your habits listed and have set your goals. Now you need to get a support team around you.

Commitment is important and there is nothing better for accountability than to tell some of your friends and relatives about your goal! There are usually three types of people that will be involved with you.

Group 1 – Those that will support you and encourage you.

Group 2 – Those for whatever reason will hinder you, are a trigger, will discourage you or ridicule and get in your way.

Group 3 – Those that are in between

Let’s look at the groups again and see what you can do.

Group 1 – This is a group of people that you feel will be encouragers and supporters of what you are trying to do. Look at your list and let those you feel comfortable with know what is going on and solicit their encouragement. They can help create an environment that will help you succeed. Perhaps one of them can be an accountability partner and check in on you. Perhaps someone has been down the same road and could be a mentor. Make a list and get them on your team.

Group 2 – The second list is made up of people who could potentially hinder your progress. Try to avoid them if possible. This is important. Avoid them if possible at least until you have the new habit change well established.  However, your list may include people that you cannot avoid. They are heavily involved in your life. If so, are there any of those persons that you could win over as support for you? If not support would they agree at least not to hinder you? If so, that would be wonderful. However, there is a strong chance that some just might not be willing (or don’t know how) to help you. Take eating sugary treats for instance. If your best friend is in the same boat, they may not be at a mindset where they want to quit. However, they may be willing not tempt you and allow you to eat the new kinds of food you are enjoying without giving you a hassle.

Others that you don’t think you can win over will need to be handled in a way that you are not hindered in your goal. It may be changing schedules, lovingly take a stand and keep to your commitment or if needed (if possible) avoid them as much as you can until your new behavior is solidly in place.

Group 3 – This is a group of people that are in between. They are not a supporter or a hindrance. This could be due to the fact that your life doesn’t intersect with them in that area you are trying to change so you should be able to move ahead without much interruption. Others, since they are in the middle, you should try to talk them into being your ally in this endeavor. Still, others do not need to know what you are doing. After all, not everyone needs to know about the habits you are breaking or ones that you are adding to your life.

Others that should be on your team – When you think of a support team, depending on the severity of your habit challenge, there are others that you should solicit help from. Here are some suggestions.

Support groups – There are support groups for almost any kind of habit. Of course, the most well-known are the Twelve Step groups. There are Twelve Step groups for all kinds of situations. Most weight loss programs have support groups. There is also a whole online support system for many different issues. Start with a google search and see if there are any in your area. A support group could be a huge help to you in accomplishing your goal.

 Sponsor/mentor/coach – There are many people who have succeeded at what you are trying to do. Perhaps one of them would be a great fit for you and they could be a source of motivation, encouragement, and wisdom as you move forward.

Don’t try to do a difficult habit challenge on your own. Solicit all the help you can and create a team that will encourage and support you during this journey.

6 Steps To Changing a Habit – Step 1 Start With A Goal

goal-setting-feature

6 Step Habit Challenge SOLID Start
Notice I didn’t say, “fast start”. That would be easy to do. I could give you an inspiration article and say, “Here you go, GOOD LUCK” and if you fail, well that is your fault. But I don’t believe in luck, I believe in strategy and sticking to it. That is why I call this a solid start. I want to make sure that you are planted on the solid ground ready to go after the 6 Steps and accomplish your goal. You will do that by preparing first and getting off to a right start.

The 6 Step Solid Start is based on my Habit Change Blueprint. There are 6 steps to the Blueprint. They are:
Habit Goals
Your team
Tools
Do’s, Don’ts and Desires
Habit Formula
Trigger Management

There are 5 elements that work together to make a successful habit change.

They are:
1. You know in your heart you need a change
2. Others have confirmed that you need a change and are pressuring you
3. Circumstances have shown you that it is better to change than to stay doing what you are doing
4. Your desire for change is strong and motivated from inside you, not outside
5. There is a new plan, program, tool, something that is novel that speaks to you and says, “This is it! This could work!”

My story
I have always been fascinated with behavior. Perhaps it was because I was busy trying to figure out my own life. We all have our own normal. For me, it was full of anxiety. It was as if I was always on trial. I was in a pass/fail situation every day. I was a phobic child and had to deal with overcoming many different fears. Phobias, IBS, dissociation, chronic worry, OCD were part of my experience. Even as I started the ministry at the age of twenty I was functional but full of anxiety and depression. This created a strong empathy in me for those hurting. It seemed that I was drawn to many people that were suffering much like I was. My own issues and those of the people I was helping drove me to find answers to the complex questions behind emotional difficulties. I have spent a lifetime studying Christian spirituality as well as both undergraduate and graduate classes in psychology. I’ve studied 100’s of books and attending many seminars.
For the last fifteen years, I have been working with people who are suffering from addictions, Anxiety Disorders, OCD, Misophonia, PTSD, fetishes and many different psychological disorders. This led me to create Emotional Resilience, a year-long program teaching about the root causes of anxiety, depression, and addictions. Personally, not only has this program helped many people quit their addictions and obsessive behavior but I overcame many of my own long-term fears and phobias during the process myself.

I have yet to meet people struggling with addiction that did not have childhood trauma or shame and fear-based beliefs like I struggled with. The old saying goes, “We medicate to regulate our emotions!” Emotional Recovery is what I have spent a lifetime learning about. I know this program works because it has worked with me and so many others throughout my ministry.

Habits are at the base of everything we do. During my own journey, I have changed many of my own lifelong habits.
• When I was in my early twenties I started a daily routine of running and lifting weights that lasted 30 years. Due to a lower back issue, I stopped for ten years. However, after working in addictions and studying the principles of habits, that you will find in this study, I was able to start a new daily habit of cardio and strength training program again.
• A friend of my joined weight watchers. I had gained 30 pounds and had a noticeable “belly.” I saw a low carb/low sugar program that I liked and decided to do it. I was able to severely reduce my sugar and carb intake lost the 30 pounds and have kept it off for years.
• After decades of caffeine consumption drinking Mountain Dew (later Diet Dew and Diet Coke), I stopped drinking caffeine altogether.
• After a life-long habit of biting my nails, I was able to stop in one day.

Between helping myself and working with so many with life crippling habits it has given me the confidence to bring this program to you. This is more than an academic exercise, although you are going to learn a lot about the brain, trauma, emotions, and spirituality, it is something that works in real life. It has been taught, learned and tested by hundreds of others in our program.

I Am A Change Agent
In December of 1995 Fast Company magazine came out with their second issue. Right from the start, I loved the magazine. It was an innovative, cutting-edge and was all about the new paradigm shifts that were happening in the business world. The issue had an article about a man who was what they called a “Change Agent.” It was the first time I had heard of the term. When I read the article I had an epiphany. I knew that the article was talking about me. All my life I had been involved in change. I had been used as a catalyst in many corporate visioning’s, ministry start-ups and ministry development. For the last twenty years, I have studied the process of change and how it happens. I have led successful programs on addictions and emotional illness for the last fifteen years. My goal has been to help people BYOCA. (Be Your Own Change Agent!)

Be Your Own Change Agent (BYOCA)
The purpose of this series is to help you become your own change agent. No one can force you to take the principles in this study seriously. That is your own choice. Even God will not force you to do something against your own will. You must be willing to change. It takes faith. Change is scary, difficult and hard, but necessary. We will equip you with the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to make the changes. God will give you the strength, power, and love needed to make the changes, but you must be willing to participate. This program is interactive. You need to read the material and answer all the questions. You may think, “You have to be kidding me, that is a lot of work!” I know but we are not dealing with an easy issue! It has taken time to get to where you are and it will take time to make permanent changes. You must get engaged. There is an old saying in the AA realm that says, “If nothing changes, nothing changes!” and nothing will change if you do not dig in and get involved.

Let’s Get Started! What Is Your Goal?

It is surprising how many people try to stop or start a habit and never stop to think strategically about the goal they are setting before them. Let’s see if we can zero in on what you want to change.

1. Be specific – What is the actual Habit you want to add or take away?

Many times, our goal is too general, for instance, “I want to start healthy habits.” Okay, what does that mean? What habits does that effect? Exercise, eating, sleeping, reducing stress or nutrition? Be specific and write down your goal. Include the important details like, what, when, where and how long.

Example: I want to start walking 30 minutes a day, Mon-Fri before 8:00 a.m.
Example: I want to eat a low-calorie salad for lunch M, W, F.

__________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

IMPORTANT! You may be thinking, “How many habits should I try to change at once?” I would recommend that you start slow. You want to succeed. You may have five habits that you either want to add or take away. That is great. However, I would start with one or two just to build your confidence. In a few days you can add more. Then in a little while add more. You will be succeeding in all five before you know it. The goal is to enjoy the process and succeed for a long duration, not feel good because you start off with an aggressive program and then struggle to succeed. Get use to the system first then add more.

2. What reasons do you want to drop this habit or start a new one?
This is key. It will help you when the going gets tough. Write down why you want to pursue this goal. What are the rewards you will get from it?

Habit?____________________________________________________________________

Reason?___________________________________________________________________

Habit?____________________________________________________________________

Reason?___________________________________________________________________

Habit?____________________________________________________________________

Reason?___________________________________________________________________
3. Be realistic – How difficult will it be?
Is this your first time? Have you tried before and relapsed? Either way, as you think of this habit you are going to break or new one you are going to add–rate the difficulty on a scale 1-5 (1 = should be a snap, 5 = It will be a very difficult challenge).

Circle the level of difficulty 1…2…3…4…5

4. CONSIDER THIS – Do you need to start with a mini-goal?
A mini-goal can help you get going. Here is my rule of thumb. If you are stopping a habit, jump all in! If you are adding a new habit, consider a mini-goal.

Stopping a habit, jump all in
It is difficult to wean yourself from a habit. If you drag it out over an extended period*, it only continues the habit longer and keeps the craving coming. Your habit may be the exception, but most people are better off going cold turkey.

*If you want to progressively wean yourself, then go into it with a schedule and stick to it. Don’t fool yourself. For example, although I recommend going cold turkey on quitting smoking, some people want to progressively wean themselves from smoking. In that case I would say take your consumption and wean off a little at a time for the first week. Then become more aggressive. Make out a schedule and stick to it.

Adding a new habit consider a mini-goal!
Where a mini-goal really works is when you are adding a new habit.
When I first started running, my goal was to eventually run 3-4 miles a day. However, I started with a ½ mile the first day (after all, how far do you need to run to be a runner?). In my mind the first ½ mile qualified me. So, I began! The first few days, I ran ¼ mile in one direction, rested for a few minutes and then ran back a ¼ mile! I got stronger every day and since that humble beginning, I have logged over 20,000 miles, either running or walking!

What is the goal you want to add? Start off with a small, achievable increments, then increase until you get to your goal.

Here are some of the ways I approached my habits
Running – mini goal and worked up
Lifting weights – mini-goal – light weight, low reps, built my way up.
Quit caffeine – Cold turkey
Quit sugar and carbs- Cold turkey
Quit biting nails – Cold turkey
Daily devotions – Mini-goal, read one chapter of the Bible a day, worked my way up

What is your goal? ____________________________________________________________

What would be a great starting mini-goal? _________________________________________

How long will you give yourself to get up to your goal? _______________________________

5. PreLive it.
PreLive™ is an exercise where we imagine accomplishing the task at hand. We use all our senses. We visualize it, hear it, taste it, feel it, touch it. Whatever senses we can incorporate–we use them to create a vivid and realistic vision of accomplishing the goal.

STOP! Take 3 minutes and visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. See it, feel it.
Feel the excitement and satisfaction of accomplishing it!

Don’t forget your secondary habits!
Consider any secondary habits
Creating a new habit or extinguishing an old one is not an easy task. It just doesn’t happen by itself. It takes planning and preparation.

Now that you know what your goal is–what could get in your way? There are many saboteurs waiting to trip you up. Many come in the form of what I call secondary habits.

Secondary Habits – Most of the time a habit doesn’t sit in isolation. It is surrounded with other habits that work in harmony with it. Consider the case of eating sugary treats. Ask yourself…
When do you eat them?
Where do you eat them?
Who do you eat them with?
What kind do you eat?
What mood are you in when you crave them?
What are you thinking when the craving hits?
What are you believing when you try to resist?

If you look over your answers to the questions above, you will note that some of the answers are predictable and consistent, they are habits! Therefore, it makes sense that if you can change some of these secondary habits, it will help you resist and overcome the habit you are seeking to change or add.

For example…
If you know when you are most likely to go for that sugary treat, plan a substitute treat for that time.
If you know who you meet and eat with, try to get them on your team (See Step 3).
If you know where you eat, you can change the location to somewhere less tempting.
If you know what you are thinking or what kind of mood you are in before you indulge, you can find a better way to overcome those thoughts and feelings.

So, what secondary habits might you need to work on?

Who________________________________________________________________________

What will you do about this? ____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

What _______________________________________________________________________

What will you do about this? ____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

When _______________________________________________________________________

What will you do about this? ____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________
Why ________________________________________________________________________

What will you do about this? ____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

Where _______________________________________________________________________

What will you do about this? ____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

Other ________________________________________________________________________

What will you do about this? ____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

If you need to stop a secondary habit or add a substitute habit–then make sure that you set this up as one of your goals!

PLEASE NOTE: Don’t hurry through this steps! Please take the time to answer each question. It will help you be ready when you start your Habit Challenge.

Next time – Choosing a TEAM to help you!