“Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his own image”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do you have negative behaviors that you want to get a better handle on? Whether it’s something you do to continually sabotage yourself or an action that annoys others, it is important to examine the impact of what you’re doing. Wouldn’t it be great if you could reprogram your difficult behaviors before they spread negative karma all around you? Here are a few suggestions on bringing your own negative and troublesome behaviors under control before they become detrimental.

1. Own your power. Claim the power you have to stop the actions that bother you. Look in the mirror and say it out loud: “I am the only person who can stop _____________ .” Then, make a pact with yourself to make a concerted effort to cease the actions or activities.

2. Be more observant. Pay closer attention to what you are doing. Much of what you do each day is done without much forethought. If you begin to consciously focus your thoughts on any actions you are about to take, you will have an increased chance of removing the troublesome behaviors from your repertoire.

3. Slow your roll. Slow down your thinking. When your mind starts racing, this should be one of your first clues that you might be about to take an action that you may later regret. Take a deep breath and re-focus on a positive action, instead.

4. Know your triggers. Identify the situations, people, and events that trigger your negative behavior. For example, perhaps when you are in a social situations, you drink a little too much or you just get nervous and this leads to talking too much. You interrupt others, finish their sentences for them, and other people have little opportunity to talk. Take an honest look at yourself and this annoying behavior; it even bothers you. Pay attention to when is it most likely to happen?

You can read more about emotional triggers here.

5. Choose an alternate behavior. Decide what you will do instead. Make a plan for what you are going to do in place of the negative behavior. For instance, if you want to stop talking too much in a social situation, what could you do instead of speaking or jumping in without listening? Perhaps you could make the decision to “experiment” with listening to others, to see what you can learn from them. You could plan to talk less and practice listening more each time you find yourself in a social particular social setting. Learn as you go. Later, ask yourself, “How did I do? How did it feel to listen instead of talk?” Our art of communication series may be able to help you with this.

6. Get help. Ask some close friends or 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 will have an additional external cue to stop the behavior.

7. Own up. Say that you are sorry when you engage in the behavior, if it affects others. Staying with the example of talking too much, as soon as you realize that you have interrupted someone, say, “I’m sorry I interrupted you. Please do go on. I’m interested in what you were saying.” Showing some humility will help you learn to stop the old behavior and change it to a more effective action.

8. Consult the experts. Seek out some expert guidance if you need it. If you have been working on your troublesome actions for a while and have had little success, try finding a professional to assist you.

You always, always, always have a choice in how you behave. It is up to you to avoid the behaviors that cause you difficulties or keep people from wanting to spend quality time with you. Banish your unwanted behaviors for good by putting the a few of the above steps into action. Remember, only you have the capacity to stop your negative behaviors before they stop you!


photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobalt/4016377260/sizes/z/in/photostream/