How to Break Bad Habits

You Cannot Give Up Anything You Regard as Desirable

The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence by Dr. Robert Anthony

“No amount of willpower is of any use unless we really want to give up old habits. Most of the time we want to get rid of their painful effects but are not willing to give up the habits themselves. The reason most diets fail after a short time is that the dieter starts to feel deprived. He has the desire to lose weight and to look and feel better, but he has no desire to give up overeating. The end result is that the mind is constantly filled with thoughts of food. The more he thinks about food, the more conscious he becomes of it until the desire to eat overtakes his willpower.

We should not deceive ourselves that we can change our lives by self-discipline alone, or by hoping that we can force ourselves to make a change. If a person really wants to lose weight, he must be “sold” on the idea of getting rid of the habit of overeating that has been serving as compensation for tensions and unfulfilled needs. He will seldom, if ever, stop simply because he thinks he should. To do so only generates feelings of guilt, frustration, anxiety, all of which produce resistance to change.

Before you can change any habit, you must fully recognize and accept that you have one. The fact that you can't accept your faults is the reason why you can't overcome them. Verbally condemning your bad habits and yourself for having them only tightens their hold, thereby defeating all efforts to suppress them. Feeling guilty makes the hold stronger. Alfred Adler put it this way; “Either do wrong OR feel guilty, but don't do BOTH. It's too much work!”

We must create new, more positive habits by eliminating our negative habits through substitution, by providing worthy, positive thoughts and actions to replace them. If your parents took something away from you as a child, they usually offered you something else in return. This kept your mind off what they had taken away from you.”

Tomorrow we will go into specific steps of positive habit conditioning


 “Either do wrong OR feel guilty, but don't do BOTH. It's too much work!”

Quotes from: Dr. Robert Anthony, The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence (New York: The Penguin Group, 1979), pages 52-53.

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