CBT ( Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ) is a technique with numerous applications in psychology and I found to be great in breaking bad habits. It can be used together with a therapist but can be put in a simple form for the self-helpers like me. Based on my own fight with anxieties and overeating and my engineery way of thinking I broke it in following steps:
The journaling part is the biggest in the beginning of the process. You mostly try to observe yourself and understand your reactions to specific triggers. Having your specifig goal set ( for exemplification I will use overeating) you try to observe the moments the specific habit is triggered , the triggers and your reactions and you journal them . For overeating you try to observe every time you eat why you eat (craving, feeling the need to energise, feeling the need to get happier) and what triggered eating ( fatigue, depressive state, advertising) and how the eating process makes you feel (happy, bloated, …).
During this phase, by repeated journalling, you notice subtle differences and patterns , and my conclude that your trigger may have a trigger of itself or the trigger si a bit different than the trigger you originally identified.
Keep journaling because the more situations analysed the more accurate your assessment will be. Also, a great lot of brutal honesty is required for your judgements to be correct. Be aware of self-esteem protection mechanisms of the brain.
Based on a consistent set of observations journalled you decide what reactions are wrong and what should be the better reaction. For eating you might decide that eating should be decided only by a “need nutrients” requirement and never to comfort and emotional state. Then every time you eat you will start thinking (I should not eat for emotional reasons, but for nutritional) and slowly stop eating for emotional reasons ( either by preventing those bad emotions, or fining another reaction for them, like … doing push-ups 🙂 ). The transition will be slow ( it took me 1-2 years per trigger) but during this time you will see a lot of positive results to keep you engaged in this activity.
After repeated observation of triggers and slowly preventing you old bad automatic responses, in time, the bad responses are replaced with the good ones to the point where it becomes an automated behaviour, a habit.
Areas where I used CBT:
- social anxieties
- establishing a workout routine in the morning
Other activities that help CBT:
- meditation – helps with mindfulness in the journalling phase improving your clarity in understanding trigger and reactions
- affirmations – helps with implementation for the new reactions or diminishing the trigger