Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tip Clip #5 - How to Break a Bad Habit

If you're like most people, there's probably some aspect of your behavior you'd like to change. Maybe some of the people around you have complained about it. Maybe you'd like to improve the way you perform a skill. Maybe it's a substance addiction. Maybe it's just a bad habit, like biting your nails.

Whatever it is, you need to recognize that there is a "danger area," a phase of the change process in which most people give up. It's that time when you're consciously trying to do the right thing, but you fail to remember to do it, or you remember and do it awkwardly and ineffectively. This is the period before a ton of repetitions - the practice, practice, practice - has had a chance to stimulate the growth of brain cell dendrites to the point where the brain cells involved in the activity fully interconnect in a new neural network. Only then will the behavior feel like second nature, an automatic activity.

It's the inevitable failures along the way, the awkwardness that can be so discouraging that you feel your best effort isn't working. You don't appreciate the total effort involved, how many repetitions and how much time it will take to create that new neural network. And so you give up.

If you understood what's really involved in changing a behavior pattern, you'd be more forgiving of yourself, more patient. You'd accept failure as a natural part of the process, and you'd keep trying until you ultimately succeed.

Watch this brief video. It could make a big difference as you try to break a bad habit or improve a skill.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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