How do you even begin to change a habit?

If you are trying to identify the cue for a habit you have, such as biting your nails or buying a candy bar at 3pm daily at work, and you cannot figure out what triggers it, consider trying some experiments that fall into these categories: location, time, your emotional state, other people or the immediately preceding action.

  • Are you sitting at your desk, bored and lonely (no one is around), or did you read a negative email?
  • Did you receive a complaint phone call?

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You can notice these categories for several days in a

row and see if there is a discernible pattern.

When you find it, you will know the exact behavior to interrupt and substitute with another healthier choice–which you can also experiment with to find the best selection. And you can measure its success by your emotional reaction. Substituting one behavior for another is the only way to change a pattern that is ingrained, and it takes repetition to take hold and become the new pattern.

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