Bad habits. Almost everyone has something that they would like to tackle about themselves, and negative habits plague our daily lives. It can be something as simple as not waking up as early as you would like, procrastinating, or spending too much time on social media. Smoking cigarettes is a bad habit, although it also has a physical addition component. Obviously, we do not want to continue these habits, since we can recognize that they aren’t helpful or healthy in our daily lives. It seems simple – You just stop doing it. But something being simple doesn’t make it easy. Why is a bad habit so hard to stop and what can hypnotherapy do to help? This month we’ll be exploring parts work, bad habits, and how to break them.
Humans are creatures of habit, and for good reason. From an early age we learn habits and behaviors to server our needs, and repeat them until they form habits. The habit is maintained because it is familiar way to behave, and the person knows the consequences, good and bad, that result from that habit. Good habits serve legitimate needs, but bad habits do as well. They often form as a way to manage anxiety or stress, or to relax. Overeating, smoking, over drinking, and drug use are all common ways that people form negative habits to help cope with stressful situations. Bad habits don’t always have to be something related to a physical substance; procrastination, negative self-talk, and avoidance are all examples of common bad habits that result in damage, but they are done to attempt to avoid or prevent failure, disappointment, or anxiety. The habit is negative, but there is still some form of payoff for the behaviour, even if it is a double-edged sword. Habits are so hard to break because they are formed in the unconscious mind. Habits are extremely useful in our everyday life, and your unconscious embraces them as a way of managing our every day behaviour and quickly responding to common situations. Your conscious mind may desperately want to stop smoking, but your unconscious still sees it as an acceptable way to cope with stress.
So if your unconscious mind doesn’t want to let go of a negative habit, because it is still useful to your life, how do we remove a bad behaviour? With hypnotherapy, habits are often addressed through parts work. Parts work is based on the concept that our personality is composed of several different parts, forming aspects of the unconscious. We all wear different hats depending on the situation we are in (parent, child, colleague, boss, etc.). If different aspects of us want opposing behaviours, then inner conflict is created. The key to correcting these bad habits is to determine the triggers of the habit, see what needs the habit is meeting, and then find a replacement that serves those needs without negative consequences. If we can find a positive habit that fulfills the same need, then we can replace the negative habit, and unite the desires of all aspects of a personality towards the same goals.
Parts work is generally done in a state of deep hypnosis, since the hypnotherapist wants to speak to your unconscious, since that is the part that often is still holding onto the negative habit. The hypnotherapist acts as a mediator between the conflicting parts to create the desired result. For example, a smoker might have a desire to quit smoking for better health, but part of their unconscious mind enjoys the relaxing feeling of lighting up after a long day at work. However, if there is an acceptable alternative provided that fulfills that same desire – in the smokers case, perhaps a short walk around the block would allow them to relax after work, while avoiding smoking. Parts work can be quite complex, since clients can have many conflicting desires interacting together to create the bad habit. It is generally used later in an ongoing hypnotherapy program, rather than a first-line approach. Creating unity between different parts of a personality can take time, and requires a strong desire from the client to make the changes. Because it addresses these root causes, it can be effective in instances where the client was previously backsliding back into the habit. Clients often report to us that they find the process very enlightening, as it gives them a structured, guided way of looking into their inner natures.
Habits may be hard to break, but with assistance and time dedicated to finding and addressing the root causes and desires that are fulfilled by that habit, we can move away from the negative consequences of bad habits. By being guided into a process of discovery, our clients can have the opportunity to form new habits that can replace the negative ones, as long as they can unify their unconscious and conscious mind so that they both desire the same thing. Parts work is just one aspect of how we address negative habits, and in the coming months we hope to explore additional hypnotheraputic techniques.