Hypnosis To Overcome Bad Habits

Definition of Bad Habits

Human beings are creatures of habit. From a very early age we learn behaviors that serve our needs and then we repeat those behaviors whenever the needs arise, developing habits. The subconscious mind, where habits form and reside, accepts the known and fears the unknown. Habits are maintained because they are familiar ways of behaving with expected consequences that serve needs.

Similarly, bad habits develop to serve legitimate needs; however, they also have negative consequences that are detrimental to health, emotional well-being, self-image, relationships, career, etc. It is in virtue of these negative consequences that such habits are deemed “bad”.

What Needs Do Bad Habits Satisfy?

Bad habits typically form to manage stress, to overcome anxiety, and to promote relaxation. Habitual smoking, excessive drinking, abuse of drugs, and overeating are four of the primary ways that people attempt to self-medicate to feel better. Biting nails, picking at skin, hair pulling, are other habits that develop subconsciously in childhood, sometimes as a means for regaining a sense of control or to get noticed in those who feel abused or neglected. Bad habits also form as a means of self-punishment in a child who feels guilty, ashamed, or worthless.

Not all bad habits involve using physical substances or doing bodily harm. Procrastination, obsessive compulsive behavior, and chronic negative self-talk are examples of bad habits that do emotional harm and damage self-esteem, while attempting to stave off fear, prevent failure, or dissolve guilt.

How Do Bad Habits Form?

Bad habits often form early in life when a child learns from the negative coping behavior of the adults, siblings, and caretakers who surround them. Because children tend to emulate what they see, children of smokers, drinkers, and drug users also tend to smoke, drink, and use drugs to manage their negative emotions and feelings.

Sometimes, the negative habits develop more randomly. A child left alone may reach out and find that clinging to a doll or a blanket or sucking on their thumb provides positive tactile feelings that soothe and comfort. Faced with the same loneliness again, the child repeats the calming behavior. This becomes a habitual way of coping that, as the child gets older, is discouraged, if not punished, as unacceptable behavior.

Bad habits can form later in life when stress and anxiety become extreme in response to an overload of responsibility, sudden dramatic loss, tragedy, or the onset of fears and phobias.

However negative the consequences of the bad habits that form, there is always a positive pay off for the behavior, which usually involves a quiescence of fear or pain and/or increased pleasure or satisfaction.

Negative Effects of Bad Habits

The following list includes common negative effects of bad habits. If you exhibit some, many, or all of these, low self-esteem could well be the cause and hypnotherapy for self-esteem could very likely help.

  1. Poor self image
  2. Loss of self-respect and self-esteem
  3. Diminished physical health
  4. Substantial weight gain or loss
  5. Loss of energy
  6. Sleep problems
  7. Social anxiety
  8. Isolation
  9. Anxiety or panic attacks
  10. Depression
  11. Impaired sexual desire and function
  12. Damaged personal relationships
  13. Financial problems
  14. Job loss or career stagnation

How To Overcome Bad Habits

Because the subconscious mind embraces the known and fears the unknown, it sticks with bad habits, reluctant to give them up because of the needs they are known to serve. For this reason, bad habits (such as addictions to smoking, alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and sugar) can be difficult to break.
The key to correcting bad habits is to determine what triggers the bad habit and what needs are being met (albeit with negative consequences), and then to find replacement behavior that not only satisfies those needs, but also satisfies them without negative consequences. Even better if the replacement behavior has additional positive pay offs, such as increased self-esteem, feelings of self-empowerment, greater vitality, etc.

Using Hypnotherapy To Replace Bad Habits

Hypnotherapy is a relaxing, natural, and safe, brief-term form of therapy that enables direct and immediate influence on the subconscious mind where bad habits develop and endure if left untreated. With the help of various hypnotic tools and techniques, a client can gain more awareness of and control over their destructive impulses, while developing new behavior patterns that replace the bad habit with positive coping strategies.
Breaking bad habits through hypnosis is only possible 1) if the client really wants to make the changes; 2) believes that they can make positive changes; and 3) is open to using the tools and techniques on a consistent basis.

The first step in hypnotherapeutic treatment is conscious cognitive inquiry to gain understanding of the client’s specific problems and goals and to determine whether they have the appropriate motivation and acceptance.
Next I induce hypnosis, a state of deep relaxation and inward focus in which the subconscious mind is directly accessible and highly suggestible to therapeutic associations, commands, visualizations, metaphors and other techniques that instill and support the positive attitudes, feelings, beliefs, and actions necessary to correct the habit.

From a digital recording of the hypnosis portion of each session, I provide the client with hypnotic reinforcement in the form of either an audio MP3 file or CD for use in between sessions. The clients who get the quickest and best results are those who use these reinforcement materials.

Hypnotherapeutic Treatment Plan for Replacing Bad Habits

The treatment plan for correcting bad habits must be customized to each individual client’s particular case. There is no “one plan fits all.” The approach I take to each case, however, is outlined below.

  1. Identify components of bad habits
    1. Triggers
    2. Needs
    3. Problems and issues
    4. Case History
    5. Negative effects
    6. Replacement behavior
  2. Set initial goals
  3. Develop a hypnotherapeutic strategy with specific tools and techniques
  4. Provide habit correction hypnosis
  5. Track progress
  6. Set new goals
  7. Revise strategy
  8. Implement revised strategy
  9. Repeat steps 5 through 9 as needed

Hypnotic Tools and Techniques for Bad Habit Correction

The following list includes some of the hypnotic tools and techniques I use to correct bad habits:

  1. Cognitive Inquiry
  2. Deep Diaphragmatic Focused Breathing
  3. Progressive Relaxation
  4. Post-Hypnotic Suggestion
  5. Habit Replacement Visualization
  6. Resource State Discovery
  7. Interactive Self-Esteem Building
  8. Guided Imagery
  9. Inner Child Work
  10. Negative Trigger Desensitization
  11. Positive Memory Revival
  12. Mindfulness
  13. Negative Self-Talk Redirection
  14. Positive Suggestions for Self-Empowerment

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