Stopping Negative Behaviors Before They Stop You
Do you have negative behaviors that you want to get a handle on? Whether it’s something you do to sabotage yourself or an action that annoys others, it’s important to examine the impact of what you’re doing.
Try these techniques to stop engaging in troublesome behaviors before they become detrimental to your life:
1. Claim the power you have to stop the actions that bother you. Look in the mirror and say it out loud: “Only I can stop (fill in the blank).” Then, vow to yourself to make a concerted effort to cease the actions.
2. Pay closer attention to what you’re doing. So much of what we do each day is done without aforethought. If you consciously focus your thoughts on any actions you’re about to take, you’ll have an increased chance of deleting the troublesome behaviors from your repertoire.
3. Slow down your thinking. When your mind starts racing, it’s your first clue that you might be about to take an action you may later regret. Take a deep breath and re-focus on a positive action, instead.
4. Identify situations, people, and events that trigger your negative behavior. For example, perhaps in social situations, you talk too much. You interrupt others, finish their sentences, and other people have little opportunity to talk. Take an honest look within yourself and your annoying behavior. When is it most likely to happen?
5. Decide what you’ll do instead. Make a plan for what you’ll do in place of the negative behaviors. For example, if you want to stop talking too much in a social situation, what could you do instead of speaking?
* Keeping with this example, you could make the decision to “experiment” with listening to others, just to see what you can learn from them. You would talk less and practice listening each time you’re in a social situation. Later, ask yourself, “How did I do? How did it feel to listen instead of talk?”
* Who knows what great things could happen from making a decision to cease your troublesome behavior!
6. Ask close friends and family members for their assistance in stopping the behavior. For example, tell your sister that you’re trying to stop interrupting people so much. Ask her to touch your elbow at the family reunion tomorrow each time she notices you interrupting. This way, you’ll have a cue to stop the behavior.
7. Say you’re sorry when you engage in the behavior, if it affects others. Staying with the example of talking too much, as soon as you realize you interrupted someone, say, “I’m sorry I interrupted you. Please do go on. I’m interested in what you were saying.”
* Showing humility will help you learn to stop the old behavior and change it to a more effective action.
8. Seek expert guidance if you need it. If you’ve been working on your troublesome actions for a while and have had less success than you want in stopping them, asking a professional to assist you can be a big help.
It’s up to you to avoid behaviors that cause you difficulties or discourage people from wanting to spend time with you. Banish your unwanted behaviors for good by putting the above steps into action. Remember, only you have the capacity to stop your negative behaviors before they stop you!