A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: Our Worst Habits

by Amber Lea Starfire on September 26, 2011

Everyone has habits. Some of these habits we think of as “good” and some as “bad.” If we’ve labeled a habit as bad, it’s probably because we consider it to be unhealthy in some way, such as smoking or drinking too much. Or perhaps you think it’s a bad habit because it annoys someone you love and they’ve told you it’s bad: you fall asleep in the recliner every night, leave the toothpaste on the counter, or forget to call home when you’re going to be late.

To make matters worse, habits we think of as bad create emotional baggage — guilt, emotional pain, and disappointment, for example — which makes any impact extend beyond the direct consequences of those habits. But habits, good and bad, develop for reasons; they don’t just appear one day in full bloom.

This week’s journal writing prompts will help you reflect on your “worst” habit: its source, its true impact on your life, whether you really consider it to be bad or have just accepted it as such, and what you might need to do to change it (if indeed, that’s what you want to do).

  1. What do you consider your worst habit to be? Describe it in detail, including how and under what circumstances you engage in it.
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  2. Perform a word association exercise with the name of your habit. Then, freewrite for ten minutes about all of the concepts and images associated with it.
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  3. Why do you consider this habit “bad” or “worst”? What negative consequences come with it, for you and for those around you?
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  4. When you do whatever this “worst” habit is, in what ways do you punish yourself? Or do you? How does having this habit affect your self-image and esteem?
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  5. What essential inner need does your habit fulfill? In other words, in what ways does indulging in this habit work for you; what are its positive aspects? Think about when you first began this habit. What were it’s positive aspects then? What did you achieve for yourself by doing it?
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  6. What is the opposite of your habit? For example, whether your habit is to procrastinate, to drink, or to bite your nails, what do you consider its opposite to be? Freewrite for ten minutes about this opposite quality or habit and what you think your life might be like. Do you feel resistance to your habit’s opposite? Write about the resistance. Who and/or what events does it remind you of?
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  7. Write about what your life would be like without your habit. Would you prefer a life without it? If so, make a list of five things you’d need to do to change it. If not make a list of five things you’d need to do to find more acceptance from yourself and/or others.

I invite you to share your thoughts on this topic by leaving a comment below.
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Image Credit: Miguel M. Almeida
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Toboni September 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

Good prompt, Amber. Exploring addictions. My addiction to television every evening might be a good topic…and then there is my addiction to eating junk food whenever I’m stressed…and who knows what else. Only my journal knows for sure.

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Amber Lea Starfire September 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

Barb, thanks for commenting. There are habits, and then there are addictions. Are they the same? Does one morph into the other? Interesting thoughts. I love the line, “Only my journal knows for sure …”

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Laurel October 2, 2011 at 2:26 am

It’s a strange coincidence, Amber, that I discovered this blog, after I’d written in my “Morning Pages” about one of my bad habits. I know what it is, others have pointed it out, and I try to avoid it by warning myself each time, but it still seems impossible to change, so it looks as if I’ll “never learn” and continue to berate myself and wonder why even the morning pages don’t work. They certainly deal with it exhaustively over and over again. But you have some suggestions that may help in the long term. Thanks for posting this.

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