Preventing Negative Behaviors: Mindfulness and Opportunity Blocking
You can change your behavior and life for the better by opening yourself up to positive opportunities. However, it can be difficult to stop engaging in negative behaviors. Incorporate new tools, such as practicing mindfulness and opportunity blocking, to help break those habits.
Unlearning negative behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. Set yourself up for success by replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones. Get involved with yourself — you are the only person who can improve your life. It can take time to naturally cultivate positivity in your thoughts, behaviors, and life, but the reward is well worth the work.
Practicing mindfulness is one of the best ways to add positivity to your life. At the same time, it can help you eliminate negativity. Mindfulness is more than just being aware. It’s about being present in the moment, understanding your emotions and the environment, and not being overpowered. Be present in your feelings and the world around you. No judgment, no interpretation, just acceptance.
You are naturally mindful. Practicing mindfulness involves choosing when and how, and then following through. Be an active agent when practicing mindfulness. Don’t underestimate its power to promote positivity in your life. Among a multitude of other uses, mindfulness can be used to manage chronic pain, reduce stress, and help with addiction recovery.
There are myriad ways to incorporate mindfulness exercises in your life. You can practice mindfulness however and whenever you want.
Test out simple things at first. Don’t just eat your food, really taste it. Meditate for a few minutes after you wake up. Truly listen to your partner talk about their day. Whatever you do, pay attention to your senses: what you see, feel, hear, smell, or taste. Build upon your first experiences.
Try different exercises to figure out what works best for you. One technique may work for you, and another may not. Add to your toolbox as you explore. Don’t be afraid to try new things to shift your mindset.
Set yourself up for success with opportunity blocking. Though this traditionally refers to a method of crime prevention, it can also be incredibly effective for preventing negative behaviors. There are four key points to opportunity blocking:
- Make the behavior increasingly risky.
- Reduce the anticipated reward.
- Make the behavior more difficult to engage in.
- Increase the consequences. Make the behavior itself inexcusable.
Essentially, make the behavior as risky and unrewarding as possible to deter yourself.
For example, if you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety, an upcoming drug test for work can help prevent you from relapsing. Whether you have to do a pre-employment or post-incident screening, the consequences of failing that test may prevent you from relapsing. You may be placed on probation, be passed over for future raises, or even lose your job. The reward of using a substance may not outweigh recovery in and of itself, but the additional consequences at work might.
Opportunity blocking doesn’t just apply to drastic situations. Use it to help yourself achieve your goals. If you want to be more active but can’t motivate yourself to get up and move, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog. If you make a commitment and someone is counting on you, it’s easier to keep your promise. Canceling on your neighbor may disappoint them or sour your relationship. The consequences of canceling on them are more severe than canceling on yourself.
Opportunity blocking is not meant to cause anxiety. It’s simply another tool to use when overcoming negative emotions and impulses. Being positive can be difficult when you’re used to being negative. Find positivity however you can.
Do your best to focus on bringing more positivity in your life as you eliminate negativity. Be active about limiting your negative behaviors and thoughts. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. Acknowledge your misstep, remind yourself that you do not engage with negativity anymore, and move on. Dwelling on the past will only hold you back from your bright future.
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.