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Dave Sellars, PhD
aka Dr Habits®

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32 Ways to Change Relationship Habits and Get the Love You Want

For most of us love is the most important thing in our lives. It’s life’s greatest gift to give and receive. Through love we feel worthy, needed, and connected with a partner, child, parent, workmate, neighbor, or friend. To get and keep love, we need to know how to change relationship habits that may stand in the way of the love we want.

Here are 32 relationship habits from my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. Counseling may be needed to change some of them. Relationship habits for parents and children are presented in the Parenting and Children/Teens sections of the book. Changing habits in the Communication section will also improve relationships.

Relationship Habits to Stop

To get the love you want, try to change relationship habits first.1. Stop being possessive with (name). Alternative: Start permitting (name) to have a life independent of our relationship.

2. Stop being critical or judgmental of people based on their appearance, skin color, weight, height, clothing, grooming, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs. Alternative: Start accepting and appreciating the differences in people.

3. Stop being excessively controlling in the area of (specify) with (name). Alternative: Start letting (name) be the person he or she wants to be.

4. Stop being defensive when (name) shares what is bothering her or him about me. Alternative: Start accepting constructive criticism from (name).

5. Stop excessive arguing with (name). Alternative: Start working out disagreements with (name) in a calm manner.

6. Stop offering unsolicited advice to people. Alternative: Start recognizing that most of the time people are not interested in my opinions.

7. Stop making disapproving comments to (name), even if the comments were not meant to be disapproving. Alternative: Start focusing and commenting on the positive qualities of (name).

8. Stop being codependent with (name). (Codependency involves excessive focusing and acting on another person’s needs rather than your own to make yourself feel good. You need to be codependent when it comes to caring for very young children. Codependency is not healthy with older children and adults.) Alternative: Start recognizing that taking care of my own needs is how to feel good about myself.

9. Stop being in an abusive relationship with (name). Alternative: Start seeing myself in a loving, supportive relationship.

Relationship Habits to Start

10. Start opening my heart to love and accept love from others.

11. Start expressing gratitude and love to (name) in ways such as (specify, such as hugs, touches, kisses, massages, dates, flowers, greeting cards, talking, listening, phone calls, and text messages).

12. Start limiting the time I spend on recreation and work matters to X hours per week so I have more time to spend with (name).

13. Start spending (one day or evening) each week with (name) to enjoy each other’s company.

14. Start doing mundane things with (name) such as (specify, such as shopping, working in the yard, cleaning, washing the car).

15. Start deepening my relationship with (name) by spending more time talking, writing, or calling him or her.

16. Start frequently expressing appreciation to (name) for what she or he does.

17. Start frequently expressing that (name) is attractive.

18. Start expressing feelings and emotions to (name).

19. Start openly discussing problems with (name) in an effort to resolve them.

20. Start compromising with (name) when making important decisions.

21. Start meeting or exceeding expectations of (name). (Specify what the expectations are.)

22. Start following through on commitments such as (specify) with (name).

23. Start offering verbal and non-verbal support to (name) for her or his endeavors and decisions.

24. Start searching for a life partner.

25. Start realizing that I cannot change (name) if she or he doesn’t want to change for her or his own benefit.

26. Start forgiving (name) for (specify the wrong doing).

27. Start saying “I’m sorry” to (name) when I have done something wrong.

28. Start thanking and telling my parents that I love them before it is too late.

29. Start doing more chores around the house and picking up after myself.

30. Start having dinner with my entire family X times per week.

31. Start showing more gratitude for (name).

32. Start volunteering at (specify).

What More Can You Do to Change Relationship Habits?

My book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning has an easy step-by-step process that will help you change your relationship habits. Also, you can learn more about relationship habits through myhabits.com and subscribing to my newsletter, Changing Habits, Changing Lives. Details are at the Habit Support tab here on the website. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of the website page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits, Changing Lives will be sent to your email address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. You can email me at DrHabits@myhabits.com with questions or comments.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits®)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

How Nancy Made Her New Year’s Resolution of Healthy Eating Stick

Nancy made a New Year’s resolution focusing on healthy eating habits. Intending to change was a start, but Outcome Visioning was key to her success.

Recently, I received this email from Nancy at DrHabits@myhabits.com: “For several years my New Year’s resolution was to start a healthy eating program to lose weight. Like most people, I always failed. Whatever your New Year's Resolution may be, Outcome Visioning can help.I bought your book and followed the 5-step process for changing habits. It worked!! So far I’ve lost 40 pounds. The part that was most helpful was Outcome Visioning. It gave me the motivation to stick with my healthy eating plan.”

Here is an explanation of the new technique Nancy is talking about to change her habits and lose weight. More details for sticking to and achieving your New Year’s resolution are in my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. An interesting article on the tradition of New Year’s resolutions is at the end of this post.

What Is Outcome Visioning?

Outcome Visioning can be used for your New Year’s resolution goal or changing habits in any area. It involves getting into a state of relaxation and creating a vivid mental picture of what you will see, think, feel, and hear after achieving a habit goal. Experiencing the future self you want to be through Outcome Visioning will help you become that future self.

Outcome Visioning makes it remarkably simple to start a healthy eating program and begin losing weight. It takes only 5 to 7 minutes twice a day and captures the essential elements of meditation, hypnosis, affirmations, and creative visualization.

  • Meditation involves relaxing and quieting the mind to connect with the here and now. Outcome Visioning involves relaxation and quieting the mind so it is more receptive to a specific, imagined future self.
  • Hypnosis usually involves another person’s voice that helps guide your imagination. Outcome Visioning involves guiding your own imagination with your own voice.
  • Affirmations are positive statements of intentions or circumstances that you say repeatedly as if they are happening in the present moment. Outcome Visioning involves several positive expressions that are not repeated. It assumes the desired state of being has already been realized.
  • Creative visualization involves positive reinforcement that comes from repeating affirmations while imagining any desired object or circumstance has already been realized. Outcome Visioning involves positive reinforcement that comes from what you see, think, and feel and how others react to you while imagining a habit goal has already been realized.

You can find interesting articles on meditation, hypnosis, affirmations, and creative visualization at the end of this post.

How Does Outcome Visioning Work?

Here is how to use Outcome Visioning to start a healthy eating or weight loss program or change habits in other areas:

  1. Develop a list of rational and emotional benefits that you and others will realize after you have achieved your habit goal of healthy eating and losing weight. The visioning statement is constructed from these benefits.
  2. Write a visioning statement that includes the following elements. Create a vivid picture in your mind of your future self after your weight loss. Really focus on the emotional benefits of sticking with healthy eating. Record the vision statement on your mobile device for play-back during visioning sessions.

    Now that I have (state your goal of healthy eating or losing weight as if it has already been achieved for a month), this is what I see, think, and feel about myself. (Continue the statement with your rational and emotional benefits.) And what I hear others saying to me about what they see, think, and feel. (Continue with their rational and emotional benefits.)Black woman sitting with eyes closed outdoors

  3. Find a comfortable place to sit where it is quiet and you won’t be disturbed. Take 5 breaths; inhale deeply and exhale slowly with each breath. Count from 5 to 1 as you exhale. Relax.
  4. Contemplate the visioning statement. Hold the vision in your mind lightly as in daydreaming. Begin to believe this future state of healthy eating and weight loss for a month is here and now.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 twice a day until you can recall the vision at will. Contemplate it often.
  6. Outcome Visioning can also be used to help bring about almost anything you want, such as a new house, new partner, new job, or financial security. Check out my video Outcome Visioning Will Help You Get Anything You Want for more on this.

What More Can You Do for Changing Habits Like Healthy Eating and Losing Weight?

Stay informed through myhabits.com by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives and getting involved with our community on Facebook. Details are at the Habit Support tab at the website. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of the website page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your e-mail address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning and learn how to start a healthy eating program or any habit you have in mind. You can email me at DrHabits@myhabits.com with questions or comments.

Here are great sources for more information on topics in this post.

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

What Meditation Can Do for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit 

5 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Hypnosis

What Are the Benefits of Using Positive Affirmation?

The Benefits of Creative Visualization

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits®)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

Which of My Habits Do I Need to Change?

My habits - get help to know what to changeRecently, a Dr Habits reader named Stacy wrote me at DrHabits@myhabits.com to send along the following comment and question: “I saw the video on your site that says all personal growth involves changing habits. How do I determine which of my habits need to change to improve my life?”

This post is all about answering that question for Stacy and the many others who are likely wondering the same.

How to Identify a Habit to Change

  1. What challenges am I dealing with currently that are reflected in my habits?
    These might involve changing habits in the areas of weight gain, anger, procrastination, a poor relationship with a partner or child, negative self-talk, or over-spending on things that are not essential. Each challenge can be traced back to daily habits, and overcoming the challenge involves identifying those habits and developing a program to change them. You can discover how to do so in Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning.
  1. Is there a situation that occurred recently that may indicate a need to change my habits?
    Consider a break-up with a partner, a child who is acting out, major health issues, home foreclosure or bankruptcy, a drunk-driving violation, or being fired from a job. Most likely, these situations are the result of daily habits that culminated in a problem area.
  1. What have others said about how I could positively affect my life or their lives by changing my habits?
    Your partner, children, parents, other relatives, friends, coworkers, physician, or counselor may indicate a need for changing habits. If they haven’t offered any suggestions, ask them how you can improve your life or improve your relationship with them.
  1. Were any of my habits that need to change mentioned during a therapy session or a performance review at work?
    Counselors are an excellent source for identifying a need for changing habits because they see things objectively. Your supervisor or a co-worker may have said something that reveals a behavior or attitude that calls for changing a habit.
  1. What change could I make to my habits that would give me greater happiness and fulfillment?
    This might include reading, meditating, volunteering, dating, traveling, starting a hobby, or spending more time with friends. Starting good habits will allow you to change your life in positive ways.

There are 17 categories of habits in the appendix of my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. Some are listed here. Making improvements in any of these requires changing habits. Identify an area that offers an opportunity to positively impact your life and the lives of others from the following list:

healthy eating and losing weight, fitness, wellness, inner-self and self-esteem, relationships, money management, effective communication, sex, spiritual growth, positive parenting, separation and divorce, dating, career, leisure, and the environment.

Identify a Habit Goal

After you have identified an area to work on you need a habit goal, a clearly defined statement of what you will address and what you hope to accomplish through changing a habit. The content and specific wording of a habit goal is important for success. A habit goal must involve a behavior, thought, or feeling; offer important reasons to change for you personally; and begin with the word stop or start to make it actionable. Consider these examples:

Poor wording:    Be a better parent.

Good wording:   Start disciplining my child by always acknowledging good behavior.

“Be a better parent” doesn’t meet the criteria. It is a statement of being, not a behavior, thought, or feeling. The process of being a better parent should go on for a lifetime. Whereas action is implied, there is no indication of how a person is to be a better parent. The second example meets the desired criteria. There are approximately 200 habit goals to stop and 400 to start in the appendix of my book. Click here to see over 150 of them.

What Else Can I do to Change My Habits?

Stay informed through myhabits.com by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits— Changing Lives and getting involved with our community. Details are at the Habit Support tab at the website. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of the website page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits—Changing Lives will be sent to your email address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. You can email me at DrHabits@myhabits.com with questions or comments.

Here is a link to an excellent article that will help identify habits you may need to change.

Straightforward Answers to 37 of Life’s Most Common Problems

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

6 Habits to Reduce Stress During the Holidays

Stress is a big part of everyday life for many people, especially during the holiday season. This post offers the six best habits to reduce stress during the holidays and as we start the new year: sleep, exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling, and prayer.

Ready to feel better? Try these 6 habits to reduce stress.1. Sleep

How much sleep do you get each day? If it is less than eight hours, in all likelihood it’s not enough. You may say that you get by on less, but getting by doesn’t mean you are fully rested and living to your fullest potential each day. Most people who are sleep-deprived are more apt to get angry, have less patience, and are less productive.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, then a nightly routine that provides sufficient sleep is the best habit to form to reduce stress.

2. Exercise

Exercise is another great way to reduce stress. Five-minute bursts of exercise are a good way to get started. Frequent, more rigorous exercise that becomes part of a weekly routine has a lasting effect on reducing stress.

This doesn’t mean you need to join a fitness center. Exercise might include walking in your neighborhood or in a shopping mall. Jogging, cycling, swimming, and dancing are great forms of exercise. Participating in a sport on a weekly basis can reduce stress, as well.

Exercise is one of the most effective habits for stress reduction. Read about the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations for reducing stress through exercise here.

3. Meditation

Meditation, which has been practiced for over 5,000 years, is another way to reduce stress. There are different forms of meditation. I recommend Transcendental Meditation (TM), a form popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practiced by The Beatles under his leadership. The goal of TM is to quiet the mind and achieve a state of pure awareness and restful alertness. Two 15- to 20-minute sessions each day are recommended.

In addition to reducing stress, meditation offers other benefits: increased energy, improved sleep, better concentration, and lower blood pressure. The website www.tm.org has a lot of information about TM, including videos about the technique. The website can also connect you to a certified teacher of TM in your area.

4. Yoga

Yoga involves stretching and balancing to gain greater flexibility. The goal is to align the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga has an additional benefit of quieting the mind.

When you first get started it is best to enroll in a class and get professional instruction. At home all you need is a mat and appropriate music. In some cases yoga not only will reduce stress, it can relieve chronic pain.

5. Journaling

Journaling as a means to reduce stress involves recording your thoughts and, most importantly, feelings. The best approach is stream of consciousness writing where writing mechanics are not considered. This type of writing sometimes reveals things that are held in the subconscious. Whereas positive things are recorded in the journal, it is also a way to release what is bothering you.

Because words are written, you can reread passages and more fully process thoughts and feelings. Reading your previous journal entries aloud can lead to even more effective processing. Here is more on journaling at healthywomen.org.

6. Prayer

Prayer is another means to reduce stress. A simple definition of prayer is talking to a Higher Power and asking for help or offering thanks. The goal of prayer is to connect with the Higher Power to gain assistance, guidance, and strength, and develop a relationship to eliminate the feeling that you’re alone in your struggles. You are free to admit wrongdoing and weakness privately. A person can pray anytime silently or aloud.

Prayer is most effective as a way to reduce stress when a person can release stressful thoughts and feelings to a Higher Power. Here is a Psychology Today article on the benefits prayer.

To be effective, all of these stress-relief techniques must be practiced over an extended period of time. This necessitates that it becomes a habit. The most efficient way to make a technique a habit is to use my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning.

Here’s More You Can Do to Change Habits to Reduce Stress

Stay informed through myhabits.com by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives and getting involved with our community on Facebook. Details are at the Habit Support tab at the website. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of the website page and get my FREE article, “5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life”. Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your e-mail address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning and learn how to start and sustain a habit that reduces stress.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits®)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

You Won’t Believe These Bizarre Habits

People develop the most bizarre habits. For some, the habits are the result of an obsession. Others may simply be trying to get attention. Take the man in the photo below. Is he napping on a tree limb?!

You can overcome your habits, even bizarre habits

23 Bizarre Habits of Some Very Weird People

Just for fun, we decided to turn the habits below that appeared on TV into habit goals—to show you that any habit can be successfully changed and to help you start thinking about any crazy habits you might want to change. People with many of these habits should seek professional help to stop them. Some are life-threatening.

The following bizarre habits aired on the ABC-TV show, 20/20. They are followed by habit goals stated with the aim of changing lives for the better.

  • Attempting to force marriage and a heterosexual life on an adult child. Cecil Chao, a Hong Kong billionaire — Stop offering any man $65 million to marry your lesbian daughter, Gigi.
  • Enhancing the male body with surgery. Justin Jedlica, an obsessed man who has had 90 procedures so far costing $100,000 — Stop having plastic surgery to enhance body parts including your biceps, triceps, thighs, calves, and butt.
  • Enhancing the female body with surgery. Lacey Wildd, a glamour model with the 7th largest breasts in the world, who plans to have her Triple-L, bowling ball-sized breasts replaced with Triple-M breasts — Stop having breast augmentations.
  • Using constraints to alter physical appearance. Hanna Miller, an 18 year-old student using waist-training to modify her body — Stop wearing a corset to lose weight and achieve a 17 inch waist.
  • Dieting in a very unconventional way. Savica Linder, a hair stylist whose dieting habits are really not recommended — Stop following the K-E Diet that involves using a feeding tube through your nose to your stomach 24 hours a day for 10 days to lose weight.
  • Tattooing in an extreme fashion. Billy, a father living in Alaska who is getting inking deals with businesses, but not in a healthy way — Stop having your face tattooed with logos of companies known as “skin-vertising”. Billy’s face has 22 companies represented so far netting him up to $800 per ad. He is having trouble finding employment because one of the ads is for a porn site.

The bizarre habits described below were also featured on the ABC-TV show, 20/20.

  • Rewarding children with lavish gifts. Stop rewarding children with expensive gifts for good grades at school. One parent gave their child a $20,000 shopping spree. Another parent gave their child a trip to Monaco. A BMW automobile was the gift offered by a third parent.
  • Making a point with extreme parenting. Stop shooting 45 caliber bullets into your daughter’s notebook computer for not doing her chores.
  • Pushing biological limits. Stop having babies very late in life. One woman had twins at age 60.
  • Endangering a child. Stop letting an 11 year-old child ride 600 pound bulls at rodeos.
  • Driving at a not-so-appropriate age (or venue). Stop letting an 8 year-old child drive a 3,000 pound monster truck that costs $50,000 at arena shows.

The TLC website featured another list of bizarre habits. Here is my take on them, presenting them as habit goals.

  • Stop eating household cleaners or detergents every day.
  • Stop sleeping with a blow dryer while it is on.
  • Stop eating toilet paper.
  • Stop thumb-sucking (by an adult).
  • Stop frequently sniffing a scrap of your baby blanket (by an adult).
  • Stop tanning two or more times per day.
  • Stop having an excessive number of cats or dogs.
  • Stop buying shoes several times a week.
  • Stop eating sofa cushions.
  • Stop treating a female, life-size doll like a wife.
  • Stop eating glass.
  • Stop bleaching your skin to lighten it.

Looking at other people’s bizarre habits can be entertaining, as the television shows that aired these stories demonstrated. However, the process of changing habits is just as important for those of us with normal habits.

Here’s More You Can Do to Change Habits

Stay informed through myhabits.com by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives and getting involved with our community on Facebook. Details are at the Habit Support tab. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of the website page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your e-mail address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy my book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning and learn how to start and sustain a habit that reduces stress.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits®)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

Sources of the above bizarre habits:

“Going Extreme.” 20/20. ABC-TV.

“Extreme Parenting.” 20/20. ABC TV.

“My Strange Addictions.” TLC website.

10 Positive Parenting Habits and How to Make Them Your Own

What is positive parenting? What does it mean to be a positive parent? Am I doing what I should to be a positive parent? If not, how can I be a more positive parent?

This is a summary of questions from Karen, who sent an e-mail to me at DrHabits@myhabits.com. She is like most of us; we became parents with no formal training and rely on what we observed from our parents, even though ideas about parenting have changed significantly over time, causing anxiety for recent parents. The purpose of this post is to answer Karen’s questions and provide an overview of a path for you to be a more positive parent.

Definition of Positive Parenting

Positive parenting habits make all the difference. Learn more.Positive parenting is demonstrating unconditional love to my child; respecting the intelligence, abilities, feelings, decisions, and unique needs of my child; expressing positive reinforcement to my child when good behavior is observed; disciplining my child by teaching her or him what is appropriate behavior; and spending quality time with my child that involves playing, communicating, and learning.

This definition encompasses a lot. The easiest way to evaluate whether you are parenting your child in a positive manner is to review the following 10 habits of positive parenting. Chances are you have formed some of them and will find others you want to work on.

The 10 Positive Parenting Habits

1. Start accepting my child for who she or he is, not what she or he accomplishes.

Expectations beyond the abilities of your child cause stress and low self-esteem for the child. Consider the article Understanding and Accepting Your Child.

2. Start hugging my child and telling her or him “I love you” every day without conditions.

When you say “I love you,” really mean it. Consider the article The Importance of Telling Your Children “I Love You” Every Day.

3. Start expressing positive reinforcement to my child about his or her behavior, endeavors and decisions.

Choose behaviors you want to reinforce like helping family members and others, completing chores, achieving goals, and other matters. It will build your child’s self-confidence. A simple explanation for this can be found in the article, Use Positive Reinforcement.

4. Start letting my child take care of herself or himself in age-appropriate areas.

For a young child, this could mean picking out her or his own clothes, getting snacks, or preparing a meal for herself or himself. For an older child, it might mean managing an allowance or making decisions about activities. For tips on what is appropriate for children by age, see What Should Your Child Be Able to Do and at What Age?

5. Start realizing that my child’s behavior is an expression of how she or he feels.

Determine why your child is acting out. Is it inadequate sleep, hunger, stress, fear, or something that is going on in the family or outside the home? The post, The Relationship Between Feelings and Behavior describes this in greater detail.

6. Start disciplining my child by teaching him or her what is appropriate behavior and always acknowledging good behavior.

Research indicates that inflicting physical pain, yelling, and verbal abuse are not effective at changing a child’s behavior. When you acknowledge good behavior, your child will see this as a reward and will want to exhibit more good behavior. Refer to the article The Effects of Punishment on Children by Beth Morrisey.

7. Start communicating more with my child about how she or he feels about friends, problems, sex, alcohol, and drugs. Don’t rely too much on questions about school.

Comments and questions like these may encourage your child to engage in conversation: “You seem sad today.” “How is your friend Sally doing?” “Did Mary pick on you again?” “What would you like to do this weekend?” Conversations about sex, alcohol, and drugs need to be at the appropriate age, time, and place. For ideas about how to communicate more effectively, read 25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen.

8. Start spending more time with my child. Specify time per day or week and types of activities this will involve.

This might be helping with homework; reading a book; playing a game; shopping; going to a movie, park, museum, zoo, or pool; baking cookies, or cooking a meal together. Ideally the time spent will involve a lot of personal interaction with the child. A list like 100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap will help you come up with ideas.

9. Start having sit-down meals with my child and family.

If it can’t be every day, designate certain days of the week for the entire family to be present during dinner time. During each meal ask everyone to share at least one good thing that happened that day or to tell what they are grateful for. The article 8 Reasons to Make Time for Family Dinner explains why this is so important.

10. Start accepting the sexual orientation of my gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender child.

This may be very difficult for you. There are many excellent books, articles, and websites on the topic. Consider going to a counselor or joining an LGBT support group. Support from you will help your child cope with the significant challenges she or he encounters every day. For some helpful advice, you can go to AdvocatesForYouth.org and read the article, Ten Tips for Parents of a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender Child.

Let’s say there is one of these habits you would like to work on. Your inclination might be to begin trying to make the habit your own without following a process. Research clearly indicates that this is not likely to result in creating a habit that will be sustained. So consider the step-by-step process in the book Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. It is summarized in my video 5 Steps that Will Change Your Life.

Here’s More You Can Do to Become a Positive Parent

Stay informed through myhabits.com by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives and getting involved with our community on Facebook. Details are at the Habit Support tab at the website. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of the page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your e-mail address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy the book and learn how to break bad habits, start good habits, and help others, too.

For more information on breaking bad habits and starting good habits, read my other blog posts and click on the Dr Habits Show in the Habit Support tab for my videos. Be sure to email me at DrHabits@myhabits.com when you have questions or concerns.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

The New Habit Change Mobile App You Have to Try

If you are like most people, you have tried and failed to stop a bad habit that has caused problems or start a good habit that will enhance your life. It is likely that you failed because you did not follow a proven process outlined in my book, Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning and my video, “5 Steps that Will Change Your Life”. You can click these links for information about the book and view the video, but I am also here to bring a new habit change mobile app to your attention, so you have even more resources in the palm of your hand.

Try Dr Habits' new habit change mobile-app

When you watch the 5 Steps video, you can see how it points out that to stop a bad habit or start a good habit, you need to reprogram behavior, thoughts, or feelings. Reprogramming requires reinforcement, which is Step 4 of changing habits. Reinforcement involves being constantly aware of the elements of the change process and contemplating a vision of your future self after you have achieved a habit goal. One way to reinforce these factors involves using the Habit Alert™ system introduced in the book. The other is using the app, MotivAider-for-Mobile PRO for your smartphone (available here for iPhones, iPads, and other iOS devices and here for Android Phones, tablets, and other Android devices). It is the reinforcement app to use in Step 4 of Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning.

Information about the MotivAider-for-Mobile PRO can be found here, including how it works. The app is very simple and allows you to focus on one habit at a time. Once you download it, you set one habit you want to change and the interval for reminders. You even set the stop and start times so the app doesn’t wake you up in the middle of the night. You name the habit goal and write a message of about 36 characters that reinforces your Outcome Visioning statement (see more about Outcome Visioning here). You can modify the intervals, timing or message or you can replace it with a new habit whenever you want.

The app is basically a timer that reminds you at intervals to engage in your habit by sending your message along with a tone or vibration to get your attention. The reminders don’t only prompt you to change your behavior, thoughts or feelings; they also prompt you to think about your Outcome Visioning statement, reinforcing the habit change you want. If what you need is a reminder, and anyone working on changing habits does, this is a great app for you. In fact, it tells you that you can still realize great results even if you aren’t aware of every prompt.

This habit change mobile app offers a simple Habit Alert™ technique that works in tandem with Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. If you know that you want to stop a bad habit like smoking you can set the timer to alert you at the times you are most likely to crave a cigarette, reminding you to replace that habit with a better activity. If you want to start a good habit, for instance eating healthy foods, you can set the timer for times throughout the day when you should stop what you are doing and have a healthy snack or meal. When you get the prompt, it will remind you of your vision of yourself as a non-smoker or healthy eater. As a study in ScienceDaily says, “Having an initial cue is a crucial component.”

The MotivAider for Mobile PRO app for the iPhone can be purchased here. The app for Android smartphones is available here. Retail price is around $3.00. It is another Habit Solution™ offered at myhabits.com.

Beyond the Habit Change Mobile App: More Habit Solutions™ to Change Habits

Stay informed with our plans for this website and community on Facebook by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives. Details are at the Habit Support tab. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of this page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your email address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy the book and learn how to break bad habits, start good habits, and help others, too.

For more information on breaking bad habits and starting good habits, read my other blog posts and click on the Dr Habits Show in the Habit Support tab for my videos.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

Break Bad Habits with Mindfulness: A TED Talk with Judson Brewer

In just under 10 minutes, Psychiatrist Judson Brewer gives an excellent presentation about understanding how to break bad habits. It even covers several of the most basic elements of what I wrote about in my book.

break bad habits with help from Dr Habits and inspiration from Judson Brewer

This presentation, given at a very popular Ted Talk (over 1 million views), explains how mindfulness can be used to overcome an addiction. This mindfulness is closely related to Outcome Visioning, the new way to use the mind to change any habit. It is featured in the book, Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. Click on the link or the Book and Habit Support tabs above for more details. Below, we welcome you to check out Brewer’s video.

Here’s  More You Can Do to Break Bad Habits

Stay informed with our plans for this website and community on Facebook by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives. Details are at the Habit Support tab. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of this page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your email address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy the book and learn how to break bad habits, start good habits, and help others, too.

For more information on breaking bad habits and starting good habits, read my other posts and click on the Dr Habits Show tab for my videos.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

Why Debbie Failed at Healthy Eating

Go deeper with healthy eating: learn about the eight reasons people fail at changing habits and which ones kept Debbie from getting to and maintaining her healthy weight.

Find out Why Debbie Failed at Healthy EatingDebbie has struggled with her weight since she graduated from high school. In her mid-twenties she got married and later had children. Each year she put on a few pounds until it became unbearable. She has tried healthy eating, including several diet programs, and although she even managed to lose weight while on some of them, in time the pounds came back on. She never seemed to understand why she failed to lose weight and keep it off until she saw this list in Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. All eight reasons for failure are addressed in Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning, along with techniques for overcoming them.

Eight Reasons People Fail at Changing Habits like Healthy Eating

  1. There is no proven process to follow. If there is, essential steps are skipped.

The most important factor in being successful at changing habits is to follow a proven process. The one outlined in Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning was adapted from leading research in the area and involves five steps. Skipping any of these steps makes permanent change less likely. Debbie knew she wanted to change her eating habits but didn’t have a plan other than to find a diet and follow it. She didn’t use any techniques to change her behavior; she just expected to lose weight because she wanted to. The following five steps must be followed:

  • Recognize what habit needs to be addressed.
  • Develop a strong desire to change.
  • Identify proven techniques that will change behavior, thought, and feeling habits.
  • Use and reinforce these techniques.
  • Retain what has been established and manage relapses.
  1. A clear habit goal does not exist.

Often people fail to change habits because specific goals do not exist or the goals do not involve behavior, thoughts, or feelings. For example, Debbie established a goal to lose 35 pounds, but she did not address the changes in behavior, thoughts, or feelings that are needed to be successful.

  1. Sufficient habit and self-knowledge is lacking.

Another reason that attempts at changing habits fail is a lack of knowledge of the habit and an understanding of oneself. Debbie rushed into action, buying all the diet books and special foods because it felt like progress, but she didn’t really think about how she was going to manage meals with her family or what to do when temptation hit. Gaining knowledge of a habit related to dieting would reveal the importance of exercise. Self-analysis might indicate how one’s emotions play a major role in eating.

  1. The rationale for sticking with changing habits is based exclusively on logic not emotions.

Many people think that rational benefits provide the motivation needed for change. For losing weight these might be lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, getting blood sugar under control, and enjoying a more active lifestyle. Research clearly indicates that the true motivators are the emotional benefits that will be realized after the habit goal is achieved. For dieting, these might be feeling proud, self-confident, sexy, and happy. Debbie focused on rational benefits, instead of how great she would look and feel when she was at her ideal weight.

  1. A strong conviction to change is absent.

The importance of having a strong conviction was presented in my post, What Makes Changing Habits So Difficult?

  1. Willpower alone is relied on.

Most habit changers rely on sheer willpower to stay committed to achieving a goal and sustaining the change. For some highly disciplined people this is all that is needed. For most people a more concrete reward is needed. Outcome Visioning was developed to strengthen motivation. It involves creating a vivid image of your future self, assuming the goal has already been achieved. Like many dieters, Debbie thought she wanted to lose weight, but she didn’t want it as much as she wanted to eat out with friends or have a bowl of ice cream when she watched a movie on TV.

  1. A support system is not in place.

Lack of support can be a reason for failure. A leading diet program claims that people who have support from a partner, family member, close friend, co-worker, counselor, or support group are three times more likely to be successful. Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning helps you learn how to build a support network, while My Habits Support Group on the Dr Habits Facebook page helps you connect to others with the same concerns. Debbie was embarrassed about her weight, so she didn’t want to share her goals with friends. Instead, she tried to do it on her own. If she had found a support group, like the one at My Habits Support Group, she might have done better.

  1. There is no plan for when relapses occur.

Often changing habits involves relapse. People fail because they do not have a plan to prevent it. And if relapse occurs, they do not know how to address the negative feelings brought on by the experience so they are less likely to keep trying. When Debbie had that ice cream, she spent the rest of the night feeling like a failure, like she would never be able to stick to anything, let alone a diet. She didn’t know how to continue to motivate herself in the face of the relapses.

When Debbie studied these factors, she realized why her attempts at getting to her healthy weight and maintaining it were not successful. She developed goals that addressed behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Debbie’s self-analysis revealed she needed counseling to address the emotional issues with eating. She began to think about support for her next attempt to lose weight. She asked two friends to join her and follow the process in the book. She knew from experience that willpower alone did not provide the motivation needed, so she decided to use Outcome Visioning. Debbie’s complete step-by-step plan to get to and maintain her healthy weight is in the book.

Stay informed with our plans for this website and community on Facebook by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives. Details are at the Habit Support tab. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of this page and get my FREE article5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Each month Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your email address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy the book and learn how to break bad habits, start good habits, and help others, too.

For more information on changing habits, read my other posts and click on the Dr Habits Show tab for my videos. Look for my next post, Procrastination: How Jackie’s Bad Habit Kept Her from Decluttering Her Home.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

What Makes Changing Habits So Difficult?

Learn why some habits are difficult to change and how to form a strong commitment to stop or start them.

Find out what makes changing habits so difficult?Making a commitment to change is often difficult. Regardless of how a commitment is established, it must be strong in order to provide motivation throughout the change process. Here are examples of habit goals where forming a strong commitment to change is difficult for many people.

  • Stop smoking
  • Stop drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Stop gambling
  • Stop being in an abusive relationship
  • Stop negative self-talk that undermines my self-esteem
  • Stop spending more than I earn
  • Stop remaining in a job that I hate
  • Stop measuring my self-worth by what I accomplish
  • Stop any habit that involves obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • Stop excessive procrastination
  • Start a healthy eating plan
  • Start accepting compliments and love from others
  • Start forgiving someone for wrong-doing
  • Start feeling relaxed when speaking to a group of people
  • Start acknowledging and accepting my sexual orientation

All of the above habits—and hundreds more—can be addressed with the process and techniques in Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. Some of these habits may require additional intervention. There are more than 600 additional habits in the book in these areas: healthy eating, health and fitness, general health, inner self, general well-being, relationships, money management, effective communication, sex, spiritual growth, positive parenting, children and teens, separation and divorce, dating, career development, leisure and travel, and the environment.

The more difficult a habit is to stop or start, the more difficult it is to form a commitment to change. Several factors make it difficult to change or form a strong commitment:

  • Whether change involves stopping an existing habit or starting a new one
    In the previous list of habit goals, notice how there are more habits to stop than to start. That’s because stopping an existing habit is more difficult than starting a new one.
  • Level of self-discipline of the person who is changing habits
    People who have a lot of self-discipline often have a lot of willpower, too. They can more easily make sacrifices and force themselves through the challenges of change.
  • How long ago the person started the habit
    A habit formed in childhood is more difficult to change than one that started recently. People often start smoking when they are teenagers. Bad eating habits may be formed when a child is very young. The length of time makes the habit more ingrained, so change will take more time and effort.
  • Number of times the habit has been reinforced
    Some habits are reinforced several times a day. A person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day reinforces the habit 20 times in a day, 140 times a week, and 7,300 times a year. Someone who eats three meals and two snacks a day reinforces eating habits 1,825 times a year.
  • Whether a chemical or strong emotional dependency is involved with the habit
    Nicotine causes a chemical dependency in smoking. There is often an emotional component related to healthy eating.
  • Number of times a person has tried to change and failed
    Failing at previous attempts to change results in an additional challenge to form a new commitment: the person doesn’t want to fail again.
  • Consequences versus benefits of stopping or starting the habit
    Consequences to stop smoking and start a healthy eating plan are similar: giving up the ‘high’ from nicotine or carbohydrates and sugar, experiencing a sense of loss and feelings of emptiness, cravings, and increasing stress. Some benefits to stop smoking and start healthy eating are also similar: lowering blood pressure, lowering healthcare costs, feeling better about oneself, and living longer.

One question determines the strength of commitment to change. Do the perceived benefits to change far outweigh the consequences? If the answer is a resounding yes, commitment is strong. If it is no or even maybe, it is not. A person should not attempt to stop or start a habit unless the commitment to change is strong.

If you want to form a strong commitment for a habit you want to address, complete the action steps at the end of each chapter in Stop or Start Habits with Outcome Visioning. If you need to stop an existing habit, continue the habit while working on the action steps. Outcome Visioning and other techniques will result in a significant increase in the perceived benefits to change so they outweigh the consequences. Consider this example: Mike knows he should stop smoking but doesn’t have a strong commitment. He can continue to smoke while he completes the action steps in the book. As he contemplates the positive outcomes of changing, Mike will have formed a strong commitment. Then he can begin to implement the habit-change plan he developed.

Stay informed with our plans for this website and community on Facebook by subscribing to our newsletter, Changing Habits – Changing Lives. Details are at the Habit Support tab. Sign up today by providing your name and email address in the Subscribe to my Newsletter box at the top or bottom of this page and get my FREE article, 5 Prerequisites to Changing Your Life. Each month Changing Habits – Changing Lives will be sent to your email address.

Share this post and our videos with your friends on Facebook and tell them about our website. Be sure to “Like” us at Facebook.com/drhabits and follow DrHabits on Twitter. Buy the book and learn how to break bad habits, start good habits, and help others, too.

For more information on changing habits, read my other posts and click on the Dr Habits® Show tab for my videos. Look for my next post, Why Debbie Failed at Healthy Eating.

Dave Sellars, PhD (aka Dr Habits®)

© Future Self Institute LLC. All rights reserved.

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