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How To Identify Your Habits In 3 Easy Steps

As I mentioned before, all habits can be dissected into 3 parts: Cue, Habit Routine, and Rewards

So if you want to expose your bad habits so you know the exact behavioral pathway to change, here are the 3 simple steps you can use today.

Step 1: Log The Cue In A Journal

Janet L. Wolfe, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of <What to Do When He Has a Headache> said that if you "... put down the antecedents, the emotions surrounding the knuckle cracking [i.e. bad habit] and what goes through your head when you crack your knuckles [i.e.do the bad habit]... This will make your bad habit more conscious."

So the first step is to make a record about your bad habits in a journal for at least 7 days.

In doing so, you'll discover the hidden triggers of the bad behavior, the underlying reasons behind, and the repeated patterns that occur again and again.

Step 2: Expose Your Habit Routine In The Light

A habit routine is the exact behavioral process you perform after you right the Cue so as to obtain the Reward.

These are the unhealthy actions, the cravings, the detrimental activities that you unconsciously do to satisfy temporary needs while harming your future well-being.

When you figure out what exactly it is you're doing when the bad habit is in progress, you'll be able to come up with strategies to break the automatic step-by-steps down to change your behavior.

Step 3: Detect The Reward

Whatever we do (good or bad habits), we're almost always satisfying certain human needs.

American Psychologist Henry Murray had published in Explorations in Personality in 1938 about a theory of personality that was organized in terms of motives, presses and needs. He suggested that our personalities are a reflection of behaviors controlled by needs.

So Murray found that there are 27 psychogenic needs (in 6 categories) human universally have. The following list is very useful to see what needs your bad habits are satisfying you:

Category 1: Ambition needs

  1. Achievement - To accomplish difficult tasks, overcoming obstacles and achieving expertise.
  2. Exhibition - To impress others through one's actions and words, even if what is said or done is shocking.
  3. Recognition - To show achievements to others and gain recognition for these.

Category 2: Materialistic needs

  1. Acquisition - To acquire things.
  2. Retention - To keep things that have been acquired.
  3. Order - To make things clean, neat and tidy.
  4. Construction - To make and build things.

Category 3: Power needs

  1. Abasement - To surrender and submit to others, accept blame and punishment. To enjoy pain and misfortune.
  2. Aggression - To forcefully overcome an opponent, controlling, taking revenge or punishing them.
  3. Autonomy - To break free from constraints, resisting coercion and dominating authority. To be irresponsible and independent.
  4. Blame avoidance - To not be blamed for things done.
  5. Contrariance - To oppose the attempted persuasion of others.
  6. Deference - To admire a superior person, praising them and yielding to them and following their rules.
  7. Dominance - To control one's environment, controlling other people through command or subtle persuasion.
  8. Harm avoidance - To escape or avoid pain, injury and death.
  9. Infavoidance - To avoid being humiliated or embarrassed.

Category 4: Status defense needs

  1. Counteraction - To make up for failure by trying again, pridefully seeking to overcome obstacles.
  2. Defendance - To defend oneself against attack or blame, hiding any failure of the self.
  3. Infavoidance - To avoid being humiliated or embarrassed.

Category 5: Affection needs

  1. Affiliation - To be close and loyal to another person, pleasing them and winning their friendship and attention.
  2. Nurturance - To help the helpless, feeding them and keeping them from danger.
  3. Play - To have fun, laugh and relax, enjoying oneself.
  4. Rejection - To separate oneself from a negatively viewed object or person, excluding or abandoning it.
  5. Sex - To form relationship that lead to sexual intercourse.
  6. Succourance - To have one's needs satisfied by someone or something. Includes being loved, nursed, helped, forgiven and consoled.

Category 6: Information needs

  1. Cognizance - To seek knowledge and ask questions about things in order to understand.
  2. Exposition - To provide information educate others.

While I believe there are usually defects or flaws in any psychological explanatory models, there's no need to waste time debating the imperfections and disregard the usefulness of it.

So I suggest you take use this 27 needs model as a reference to see what your bad habits are satisfying after you've logged your cues and dissected your bad habit routine.

Take action and use these 3-steps process to pull out your bad habits today!

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