Your ability to unlearn bad habits, behaviours and belief systems is as important or even more important than your ability to learn new things.
From a young age we do things in a particular way and it becomes a habit. We listen to many perspectives around us which become our belief systems. Belief systems have their place and can serve at a particular point in time. For example, when you are at school, you have to listen to a higher authority and may or may not be able to question. When you are an adult, your ability to question can actually indicate your intelligence or even make you leadership material.
So, don’t be afraid to unlearn what you know and relearn something that will help you.
Accept that your current pattern is no longer serving you
This is the first step to making a change that is of use to you. Unless you accept that a previous behaviour or habit is not working, you cannot improve your life. This is an important step that you cannot ignore.
Know your triggers
We all have a lot of wounds and triggers from our childhood. Unless you’ve done inner work to heal yourself (here’s an article I wrote about this), these wounds can trigger a range of emotions and bad habits can stick with us through our adulthood. Most bad behaviours become ingrained due to boredom, anger, depression, stress and keeping bad company.
How to handle it when you get triggered?
This is easier said than done. If you had an abusive parent and a similar person pops up at your workplace, you can get easily angry without even knowing why. Once you’ve identified the trigger and the pattern, you can work on it. At first, remove yourself from the situation. Take a few minutes to identify what caused this emotion. Do the reconnecting with your inner child exercise. With persistence, you can handle situations without being triggered.
If you reach out to alcohol when stressed, then the next time you feel stressed, try going for a walk. Remove easy access to alcohol. Make it easy for yourself to ease into the new habit.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends or even professionals for help. It is commendable that you want to take action to create a better life for yourself, so reach out to people who can help you. Use a journal to document your progress. This will help you remember how far you’ve come.
Proximity is power
Unlearning bad patterns can take months and years to change. It all depends on how deep the wound or habit is. If your friends or colleagues at the office always go for a drink to get away from problems, try to limit your time with them. Have a support circle of new friends who can inspire you to be better.
Take baby steps. Remember that anything worth doing takes time. Be persistent and the new you will bloom like a fragrant rose.