Unhealthy Habits: How to Recognize When They Prevent You From Being You
Unhealthy habits come in a wide variety.
Some habits, such as biting your nails, may not seem as detrimental as lying or an addiction.
Because there are varying degrees of how your unhealthy habits affect you, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize which ones prevent you from being you.
Why It Is Difficult to Recognize a Unhealthy Habit
Habits are any actions that occur regularly or are made subconsciously. Your unhealthy habits, often so embedded in your everyday routines, can prove to be more difficult to separate from the good ones. You may even accept the negative thoughts and emotions that accompany your unhealthy habits as a natural way of feeling.
Additionally, many unhealthy habits initially may give you pleasure. For a smoker, it is the first drag of a cigarette. For a social media addict, it is the number of likes received on a photo.
However, when you rely too heavily on your unhealthy behavior to make you feel good or deal with stress, you may begin to make decisions based on those habits. For example, someone whose unhealthy habit is seeking perfection in themselves might constantly moderate or alter how they appear, the opportunities they take, and how they interact with others.
What are some unhealthy habits to watch for?
Though there are many unhealthy habits out there. These are some of the most common:
- Comparing yourself to others
- Focusing on the past
- Spending time with toxic people
- Stretching yourself too thin
- Setting boundaries on your potential
How to Start Recognizing Unhealthy Habits
It might sound easy, but many of us don’t know how to recognize at what point our unhealthy habits begin negatively affecting who we are. The best way to separate a common unhealthy habit from one that is altering your sense of self is to focus on the emotions that occur before, during, and after the unhealthy behavior.
Start with how you were feeling before the unhealthy habit. Were you anxious, sad, angry, or longing? During the unhealthy behavior was there a feeling of relief or pleasure? After, did you feel ashamed or disappointed?
If a habit only gives a temporary high or is brought on by negative emotions, it might mean that it is a unhealthy habit controlling how you find happiness and fulfillment.
Examine the consequences of your habit. Have you ever lost a friendship, missed out on an experience, or planned around your habit? When the opportunities you seek are predetermined by your habits, you are no longer making decisions based on your values and inner desires.
Label your behaviors. Sometimes it is hard to recognize unhealthy habits simply because you haven’t given them a name. Overspending, for example, can appear in different forms. Buying clothes is often rationalized differently than a big bill at the end of a dinner. Yet, they can both be forms of overspending, depending on the individual.
When you can trace the source of your negative emotions or consequences to a nameable cause, you’ll find it easier to tackle.
Taking Back Control
Once you’ve recognized your unhealthy behavior’s effects on your personality, the next steps will be finding the best action plan to correct your habit.
There are several avenues that you can take to break a unhealthy habit. However, two of the most effective tools are to break down the habit into steps that you can eliminate little by little and seek out support when you need it.
We all have our own set of unhealthy habits. Some are relatively harmless while others prevent us from being ourselves. Patience and an attention towards the source of your actions are the first steps towards regaining power over your unhealthy habits.