From Dr. Jane's Notebook

I Can't Help It!

When you hear the word habit, do you think of... positive behavior patterns that occur in your life, behaviors that seem to be in control of you or helpless addictions. Although there seem to be both desirable and undesirable habits, the truth about the origins of these habits is that they are all learned, and when they first occurred in our lives, we learned to do them for good reasons.

So when people consult with me regarding the unlearning or changing of habits, we have three tasks: (1) to understand the origin of the habit and its purpose, (2) to understand how and when we use it in our lives and then (3) to determine the behavior we wish to substitute for the old behavior or habit.

Like a tape recorder, in order to erase a portion of the tape (the unwanted behavior), we must learn to record something else over it. Once we have understood the purpose behind a habit, are aware of when it happens and have decided upon a suitable substitute behavior(s), we must record it in our actions through rehearsing it in our minds and by practicing it in reality.

Habits are learned, and new habits are also learned. The way to get rid of undesirable habits, is to learn new, more desirable habits that will help us accomplish our goals today.

®Copyright 1995, Jane Rosen-Grandon, All rights reserved.

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Last Updated October 24, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.