Therapy for changing behaviours and unhelpful habits
Everyone with a problem has a different way of solving their problem. Sometimes they may have to seek out medical help and go into a specialist unit. If the problem is very small in comparison, but you’re still finding it difficult to change your behaviour, then working on the subconscious mind could be the answer.
You may have heard about “Wine O’clock”. Our brains create habits around times, places and people as a short cut, so we don’t have to think about it. The same happens when we adopt behaviours which are potentially dangerous to our health.
Stress can drive the need for the substance or action. This motivation is part of our genetic brain makeup. We are in pursuit of the good feelings and the rush of dopamine we get in anticipation of the substance or act. The purpose of our brains doing this is to motivate us to hunt, eat, procreate and survive. Therefore the downside is that our subconscious when it creates that shortcut also includes substances or behaviours that can if in taken or pursued in large quantities can be highly dangerous.
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Some people drink to forget a problem, to mask pain or stress. likewise, some may have noticed that there are times when they have decided not to drink alcohol anymore, or maybe cut back on socialising. They may have noticed that as soon as they have decided to make changes, the urge to drink just seems to get worse. Again this is the subconscious controlling the problem.
It is the effect of the neurochemical dopamine on the nucleus accumbens – the “reward circuit” of the brain – that leads to reliance on drugs; such as smoking cigarettes and substances like sugar or refined carbohydrates, and actions; such as gambling or sex.
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Using Solution Focused Therapy
When using Solution-focused therapy, we can look at the times you don’t need to take part in certain actions and work towards reducing amounts or to stop altogether. Solution-focused therapy uncovers and addresses needs which are not being met. It might be that a person may need to have more social contact. They may need to change where they go to socialise or change what they drink or take. Whatever the client can bring, their resources, their determination can help them change the behavioural template in their subconscious mind.
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Using hypnosis it can help reduce the stressful situation that these behaviours are either masking or creating – as it often affects relationships with everyone around you. Visualisation can help you set your mind on a future free of the problem, can help rewrite those templates and feel mentally stronger. Research at Plymouth University found that volunteers who could visualise doing something different than overeating found it easier to change their behaviour.
Mindful practices can help lower the stress of changing behaviour. It can also help as a good distraction. Becoming Mindful can also help a person understand what is driving their compulsion and to have acceptance of oneself and a little self-love. Many individuals are hard on themselves and the more they try hard to change behaviour on a conscious level, the more they feel driven by it. By becoming mindful and accepting themselves, they can give themselves the mental space to move forward calmly.
Using Cognitive behavioural therapy
I have used CBT activity sheets/thought process forms and experiments for clients who are struggling. This allows someone to become more aware of their drives and allow them then to find solutions to changing them. Being able to slowly reduce the amounts they eat, drink or smoke can make it easier to give up. Going cold turkey can bring on problems of its own.
There is also the problem with sleep – unhelpful behaviours can disrupt your sleep, especially the REM cycle, which is the time during sleep that the brain processes emotions and memories.
We will be working towards the goals you want to achieve. You need to be able to be focused, and listen carefully.
Other behavioural problems
One reason we become obsessed with a whole variety of activities, as well as substances, is because we get a kick of Dopamine when doing something pleasurable. However, some people are more vulnerable to this type of behaviour than others. This should not serve as an excuse but as a moderating force. Any activity which becomes a problem can be overcome. You will need to have a goal and the motivation and willpower to change.
- Internet overuse
- Porn watching
- Overuse of mobile/tablets
Also, know that running produces dopamine in the brain, so exercise is both good for us but can become an issue if done too much. It’s sometimes linked with Body dysmorphia and eating disorders.