“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” ~Plato
To help you, here are a few simple techniques to stop negative behavior before they become detrimental to your life:
- Claim the power you have to stop the actions that bother you. Look in the mirror and say it out loud: “Only I can stop (fill in the blank).” Then, commit yourself to make a concerted effort to cease the actions. Sometimes this is all it takes to move the needle in your life.
- Pay closer attention to what you’re doing. So much of what we do each day is done without aforethought. If you consciously focus your thoughts on any actions you’re about to take, you’ll have an increased chance of deleting the negative behaviours from your repertoire.
- Slow down your thinking. When your mind starts racing, it’s your first clue that you might be about to take an action you may later regret. Take a deep breath and re-focus on a positive action, instead.
- Identify situations, people, and events that trigger your negative behaviour. For example, perhaps in social situations, you talk too much. You interrupt others, finish their sentences, and other people have little opportunity to talk. Take an honest look within yourself and your annoying behaviour. When is it most likely to happen?
- Then decide what you’ll do instead. Make a plan for what you’ll do in place of the negative behaviours. For example, if you want to stop talking too much in a social situation, what could you do instead of speaking?
- Keeping with this example, you could make the decision to “experiment” with listening to others, just to see what you can learn from them. You would talk less and practice listening each time you’re in a social situation. Later, ask yourself, “How did I do? How did it feel to listen instead of talk?”
- Who knows what great things could happen from making a decision to cease your negative behaviour!
- Ask close friends and family members for their assistance in stopping the behaviour. 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’ll have a cue to stop the behaviour.
- Say you’re sorry when you engage in the behaviour, if it affects others. Staying with the example of talking too much, as soon as you realise you interrupted someone, say, “I’m sorry I interrupted you. Please do go on. I’m interested in what you were saying.”
- Showing humility will help you learn to stop the old behaviour and change it to a more effective action.
- Seek expert guidance if you need it. If you’ve been working on your troublesome actions for a while and have had less success than you want in stopping them, asking a coach, counsellor or psychologist to assist you can be a big help.
Here’s a final truth — Ultimately it’s up to you to stop negative behaviours that cause you difficulties or discourage people from wanting to spend time with you. Banish your unwanted behaviours for good by putting the above steps into action today. Remember, only you have the capacity to stop your negative behaviours before they stop you!