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Let It Go: Taming Soft Addictions

Do mindless activity and bad habits have a hold on you? Get the tow truck, you're in a rut.

Superficial Just Doesn't Satisfy continued...

She uses herself as an example: When she let go of one bad habit -- endlessly reading magazines and newspapers -- she substituted great literature, which was more rewarding. After that change, she found herself weeding out other soft addictions. She discovered that she related differently to people in her life.

"I began speaking more deeply from my heart about my feelings," Wright tells WebMD. "I took more walks in the park, listened to great music, meditated, started bringing in flowers. The other things [her soft addictions] weren't attractive to me any more."

"Soft addictions are webs, the fabric of your lifestyle," she explains. "When you're overworking, you're addicted to gourmet coffee, then you're all jittery, biting nails, stressful, calming down in front of the tube, then you're surfing the Internet, staying up too late, and you're tired the next day. But people don't always realize the connection."

Designing New Fabric

Breaking a bad habit or soft addiction isn't easy, Wright admits. Here are some suggestions:

  • Start by identifying one bad habit. Maybe you head out shopping every Saturday morning. Next time, stop at a used bookstore on your way home, and find something worth reading. This way, "you've broken the routine, and added something more nourishing to your life," Wright says.
  • Find other things that you enjoy. Add more things to your new routine. Soon, you'll be cutting back on shopping sprees -- but you won't feel deprived, she says. It's what she calls, "The Math of More." "You learn to add more nourishing things to your life, so you can subtract your soft addictions. Eventually, you come to enjoy these new things so much, they crowd out your soft addictions."
  • Take time to write down a bigger vision for your life. This way your new choices have a context, so they make sense in terms of your priorities.
  • Don't worry if breaking bad habits seem difficult. "It's not like it's a quick fix. It's not going to happen overnight," says Wright. "It's really about learning to live the journey of life. It's cumulative. You're discovering who you really are."
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