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Are you a Slave to your Habits

Updated: Apr 24, 2022


“People don’t come to therapy to change their past, but their future”

Milton Erickson

Habits are sub-routines that we acquire over time and sometimes taken on a life of their own. In fact they become so much part of our everyday behaviour that they become unconscious. In other words they happen without our conscious decision. Most of the time we don’t even realize that we are doing them.

There are a great many ways of breaking habits, ranging from pure will-power, learning new habits, creating aversions or visiting a therapist. But since habits are behaviours which take place in the unconscious, it makes sense to go into the unconscious mind to re-set, remove or hypnotise away those unwanted actions.

The American Journal of Psychology defines: “habit, from the standpoint of psychology, [as] a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

And the good news for everyone wanting to change a habit is that clinical hypnosis is one of the most effective tools for taking you into the unconscious, creating flexible thinking, boosting motivation ending old habits and learning new habits quickly and effectively.


A habit can lead to an addiction.

Addictions include a range of compulsive behaviours such as gambling, eating, compulsive shopping, playing video games, working too much and internet usage as well as the physical dependence on alcohol and drugs. Addictions have a physical and psychological component and can create a huge amount of pain and misery for both the addict and their families.

Habits which become addictions often start out as a way to manage stress and low self esteem. They help to deal with the anxiety the person experiences, and to promote a sense of well-being and chill out time. Habitual smoking, excessive drinking, abuse of drugs, and overeating are four of the primary ways that people attempt to self-medicate to feel better. Biting nails, picking at skin, hair pulling, are other habits that develop subconsciously in childhood, sometimes as a means for regaining a sense of control or even to get noticed. They can sometimes indicate a sense of abuse or neglect.

Not all bad habits involve using physical substances or doing bodily harm. Procrastination, obsessive compulsive behavior, and chronic negative self-talk are examples of bad habits that create a lot of emotional harm and damage self-esteem, but are in fact attempts to stave off fear, prevent failure, or dissolve guilt.


Many people struggle with their “bad” habits in silence. They fear being judged or worry that they do not have the emotional strength to make life-style changes. Because habits are unconscious sub-routines it can appear virtually impossible to find a way to change them.

The therapist is someone who is committed to empowering their clients. When a therapist listen to their client they use a skill which allows the person to feel actually heard. For many people this experience offers them the first time to express their fears without being judged.

The therapy room provides a safe environment where the client can share how they feel about the “bad” habit. They can discuss their anxieties and challenges. The therapist is completely focused on what their client is saying. They are trained to identify the faulty thinking which is holding the habits in place and are skilled at finding the right suggestions to help their clients make changes.

Clinical hypnotherapists have the additional tool of clinical hypnosis which enables them to access the subconscious mind, gently remove the stuck problem thinking and address the fears which have held the problems in place for so long. They can help the client create new more flexible thinking and re-learn new “good” habits during the hypnosis session. This makes the therapy much faster. And research suggests that using clinical hypnosis also make the benefits more lasting improving the success of the therapy.

If you want to get rid of bad habits, and replace them with good ones, hypnosis is the most effective way to do it – and do it for good.


“Bad” habits often form early in life. The child learns through interaction or observing the negative coping behavior of adults, siblings, and caretakers who surround them. Because children tend to emulate what they see, children of smokers, drinkers, and drug users also tend to smoke, drink, and use drugs to manage their negative emotions and feelings. Even when they don’t pick up these habits they remain more at risk from an inability to manage or cope with emotional pain or pressure.

“Bad” habits can also form later in life when stress and anxiety become extreme. They are usually a reflection of how people respond to an overload of responsibility, sudden dramatic loss, tragedy, or the onset of fears and phobias.

No matter how toxic the habits may appear it is actually a coping mechanism and always serves a purpose or provide a benefit. The art in liberating someone from the unwanted habits is to remove the old coping mechanism and find new healthier ways of providing the same benefits. This can be extremely difficult because the original reasons for the behaviour are generally forgotten or buried so deeply in the unconscious that they remain difficult to see.

We all know that people can stop smoking cold-turkey. This is because their determination and motivation is aligned and the time is right for them to break free from the unwanted habit. But most people struggle with making the decision to stop or relapse time and time again.

Irritating habits really can be changed once you understand that you need to deal with them at an unconscious level. Using clinical hypnosis, provides access to the unconscious levels where automatic behavior patterns are set up. Automatic behaviour includes all those things we do without even noticing them until they are done. The first step is to identify these behaviours and the logic which holds them. After that it is relatively easy to establish a new set of healthy behaviours that can meet the persons needs more appropriately and which can put an end to the bad habits for ever.

Addictive behaviours are habits seem intractable because they activate the brain’s pleasure centers, burning a memory tract that says, in effect, “This feels good – keep doing it.” Pleasure-inducing behaviors create repetition. The brain favors repetition, which reinforces the behaviour. To just stop the habit, can create an intolerable anxiety and even physical discomfort. The clinical hypnotherapist aims to get to the roots of these thoughts and feelings and replace them with other pleasure seeking associations and re-write more health sub routines.

Hypnosis is all about changing people’s attitudes, which in turn shape their reality.

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