Back to
list of



How to Transform any Habit

Marilyn Gordon, Cht

Sandra was getting fed up with her habit of buying lattes every day at the local coffee house chain. They were loaded with caffeine and sugar, and she went everyday like clockwork to get a large fix of the legal upper that coursed though her body like a speeding locomotive. She was gaining weight, and she was beginning to worry that she might not be able to let go of this stimulant that had a major hold on her.

One day, she decided that she'd look into letting go. She'd heard that it was possible, and she thought she might have a transformational session of hypnosis to give her the push as well as the safety net she was looking for. She was anxious when she began, partly because the lattes made her that way, and partly because she carried anxiety around in her anyway; in fact, she thought that the lattes might be helping her to reduce anxiety. She was literally hypnotized by her habit to believe it was helping her. This is the same way that all of us are "hypnotized" by habits - no matter what they are. We choose an issue we're looking to submerge or cover up inside ourselves, such as fear, anxiety, boredom, or anger - and we conceal it with a behavior that we imagine helps us with these feelings, a behavior like drinking, smoking, eating a lot or having caffeine and sugared drink. Sometimes there's a physiological reason why the new behavior helps us with our difficulties, and sometimes, it's just something we program ourselves to believe. Like Pavlov's dog, we respond to a stimulus with a self-chosen response (eating that sweet roll or potato chip, smoking that Marlboro, sucking that thumb, or drinking that latte). We decide what the response will be (comfort, cover up, or forgetting), and we program ourselves to have our chosen response.

Seven Steps

There's very good news, though: we can re-hypnotize our responses. We can shift our choices. We can stop doing what we're doing, and we can have a healthy and free life. There are seven steps to transforming any habit. First is to understand the issue you're dealing with in your life, to pay attention to what is taking place. Second is to decide to make a change. Third is to create a plan for how you'll do it and when. Fourth is to find out what you can do instead of what you've been doing. Fifth is to work with your objections or inner saboteurs. Sixth is to reinforce your choice, and seventh is to transform - to actually do it!

You can be creative with the questions, and one will lead to another. Let your intuition take over, and you'll find that questions come from deep places and will ultimately lead to revelations and healing.

Step One: Pay Attention:

Sandra looked at her latte habit, and began to observe what was taking place. She looked at her thoughts, feelings, and her body's responses. She noticed that she got into the habit at her old job, in a workplace in which there was a lot of contention and strife. Sandra was constantly fighting to hold back her anger. She fumed inside, and when she couldn't stand it anymore, she went out for her "fix," a mixture of stimulants and familiar sweet tastes that at first led her to a heaven on earth, but as time wore on, created an inner hell in her. She was a prisoner to the need to have the sweet taste, the sugar and caffeine rush, the warm liquid that was putting extra pounds on her and putting her on an emotional seesaw. She noted all this, paid attention to it more than ever before, and this awareness put her on another level with her habit. She was now the witness, instead of the slave or victim.

Step Two: Make the Decision

Next, she made a decision. You know how it goes: "The light bulb has to want to change." That's the punch line for, "How many hypnotherapists does it take to change a light bulb?" Yes, that's only one, if the light bulb wants to transform itself. So how do you go about deciding to stop eating Twinkies or smoking Camels or biting your nails or whatever substance and habit you've allowed to hypnotize you into submission? And, given that there can be a physiological, biological or genetic component to the habit, transformation is always an option. Sandra was at the point of decision, called the "I've had it!" point. Often we have to get there to finally be ready. We're sick and tired of becoming out of breath while walking up the stairs. We can't stand not fitting into our regular clothes. We're tired of feeling run down and exhausted. We're concerned about the messages we're sending to our kids or friends. We've noticed what those habits are doing to others. We have moments of awakening in which it's clear that the time to transform is here.

Step Three: Create a Plan

So Sandra came up with a plan. She decided that she wanted to stop completely - not even a taste. She wanted to be done, and she made that inner commitment, which I call "the healing decision," the decision to be done. She wanted never to step into that coffee shop again.

Step Four: Choose What to Do Instead

She decided on substitutes, what she'd do instead. Walks appealed to her. If she had any emotional issues, she'd walk and pay attention to her feelings. She'd watch and allow herself to "experience her experience." If she became hungry, she'd eat something healthy. She decided to do some self-hypnosis by putting her thumb together with her index finger and saying what was to her a healing phrase: "I AM calm and free." Some people choose even more elaborate alternatives, such as vitamin and herbal remedies, counseling, or specific regimens of food or exercise.

Step Five: Look at the Obstacles

Next she looked at her inner saboteurs, the reasons why she might want to continue to drink those stimulatingly sweet lattes. She came face-to-face with her anger, and she did some energy tapping techniques to reduce its intensity, as she looked with both her heart and mind at what was creating her anger in the first place. She saw that the office politics were major irritants for her, and she noted that because she didn't work there any longer, she could watch the situation with greater objectivity now. Even if she were still there, she could become the witness instead of the victim. The whole experience she was having was a memory of the past (even of the further past, her early life situation). She reminded herself that she was here in the present, and in this perfect moment, whatever happened to her in the past was no longer happening. In hypnosis, she felt her arms get extremely heavy, so heavy that she couldn't lift them. Her arms felt absolutely numb. When asked what her Wise Mind would tell her about this, it said to her, "Stop those drinks now so you don't become diabetic. We are protecting you from this. Deep inside you're concerned about this; you're concerned about losing peripheral sensation. Stopping is the perfect answer. Whenever you see those lattes, you'll recall this, and you'll have no interest in the drinks whatsoever. You're done with this habit. It's over and complete."

Step Six: Reinforce your Choice

She could now witness, release and let go of her judgment and reactivity in her old work situation. She did some beautiful deep breathing, releasing and healing her old emotions and bringing herself into a state of calm. She put her thumb together with her index finger and said her a healing phrase: "I AM calm and free."

Step Seven: Transform and Actually Do It!

And so it was - complete, done, finished, over. She passed by the coffee shop, and she said to herself, “I’m done with that, totally done.” She took a beautiful, brisk walk in the park, breathing in the stimulating air by the lake, and her body and emotions felt free, as the energy of her life coursed through her. Her happiness knew no bounds, and she was calm and free.

This same process can create freedom from any other habit that you are fully ready to transform. When you’re fully ready (and you’ll know deep inside when this time comes), you have the power to create great transformation in your habits and in your responses to life. The Force is with you when the readiness is there, and you can move away the boulders and obstacles that are hiding the light in your life. If you’re not quite ready, just pay close attention to your body and mind and to your life situations so that you know what you need to do to transform them if necessary. Transformation is always possible, and miracles are close at hand.

©2006 Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI
1 (800) 398-0034