Mental health professionals, what actually works for changing one’s self destructive habits?

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Examining the reward you perceive you get for doing the behavior.


Therapist here. Shame is, somewhat paradoxically, the reason people don’t change. As we begin to do the good thing, we feel shame for doing the bad thing, making it difficult for us to feel confident enough to do the good thing. One reason therapy is so effective is because the therapist is there to counteract shame by modeling acceptance regardless of behavior. This makes it easier for the person to accept themselves despite their flaws and to feel safe and confident enough to change. Another thing is to explore the role the “bad” thing has in your life. What need does it fill? What healthy thing can replace it? The vast majority of coping strategies are not inherently bad, but are just misapplied. Take alcohol, for example. Great for taking the edge off at an awkward company party, but if you are using it to cope with the discomfort of being alive…that’s not going to lead to good things.


Therapy. Understanding the basis of your issues through self-education. There are many excellent books. Mindfulness meditation. Deliberately rewriting terrible behavioral scripts with life affirming ones. Yoga and body work. Inner child work. Gratitude practice. Self-care. Creating a healthy environment to live in.


Therapist here. First step is figuring out how this behavior is serving you. Most of the time, clients come to me because they are struggling with something- their relationships, their job, their self-worth, etc. And often times, this is rooted in behavior. A good tool to use is also use decisions balancing. Basically looking at the pros and cons of changing the behavior vs continuing the behavior. Finding alternative coping skills is also a good technique. In the end, it really comes down to figuring out WHY you engage in this behavior. Trauma, anxiety or other mental health diagnoses should be assessed and processed in a safe setting.


Stay busy, fill your schedule, don’t give yourself time to get bored.