Do you want to break a habit or stop unwanted behaviour? It can help to think about what the advantages and disadvantages of this behaviour are. Often, we only consider breaking a bad habit when we start to experience more disadvantages than advantages. You can make an overview of these by writing down and balancing the advantages and disadvantages. Below, you will find an example explaining how you can do this.
For example: You would like to stop worrying as much as you do because you notice that it costs a lot of energy, it makes you feel insecure, and the worrying hinders your ability at work.
Step 1: Short- and Long-Term Disadvantages of Worrying
Consider the disadvantages of excessive worrying. What are the short-term drawbacks? And the long-term? What negative effect has it had on your physical and mental health, on your social life or on your work/study? Has it affected how you take care of yourself, your daily structure or your sleep pattern? Be honest!
Possible short-term drawbacks:
- Negative thoughts come to mind
- Getting distracted from a task
- Unhealthy eating/snacking
- Increased uncertainty about my performance
- Increased anxiety
Possible long-term drawbacks:
- Negative effect on sleeping pattern
- Increased feelings of depression/anxiousness
- Increasingly negative self-image
- Feeling tired
- Stop exercising
- Feeling like a bad employee
Step 2: Short- and Long-Term Advantages of Worrying
Also, think about the benefits of worrying. How does worrying help you? Is it a way to avoid feeling insecure for a while? Is it a way to help you prepare for everything? Are there any long-term benefits of excessive worrying? Some benefits may overlap. Be honest with yourself and take the time to write them all down.
Step 3: Short- and Long-Term Disadvantages of Stopping with Worrying
What are the disadvantages, both short- and long-term, of worrying less? What makes it so difficult to break this habit? Are there certain emotions that you find difficult to experience? Do you feel physical or mental discomfort that becomes more noticeable when you stop worrying? What are you afraid of regarding living a life that deals with uncertainty in a different way besides worrying?
Step 4: Short- and Long-Term Advantages of Stopping with Worrying
What are the benefits of worrying less? What’s in it for you? Consider the benefits on a physical, mental and social level. Are there any other hobbies that you can pick up again because you have more time and energy after a working day? Take your time on this step as this is the motivation to stop an unhealthy habit or behaviour.
Possible short-term benefits:
- I acknowledge my insecurities and can sit with them
- I eat healthier
- I can concentrate better
- I can become more present and get out of my own head
- I can be satisfied with my performance
Possible long-term benefits:
- I sleep better
- I have more energy to exercise
- I am more in touch with my colleagues
- I acknowledge my strengths
- I experience more emotions instead of always worrying
If you have drawn up the overview, you will hopefully have a better understanding of the function of your worrying behaviour. You should now also be able to see why your previous attempts to worry less were unsuccessful. Also, you should now have an idea of what difficulties you may face in the future. Now, with the help of your professional, you can work to see what you need to adopt new habits or behaviour.
Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2017). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.
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