Are Your Habits Good for You?

Are Your Habits Good for You?

hands washed in soapy water


Nail biting, tantrums, nightmares, we all have habits and most of the time we don’t even notice them. 


A mum was asking me about her four year old daughter’s habits and the question ‘why?’ came up several times. “Why does she bite her nails?” was a classic example. 


I have met NLP practitioners who say “Don’t ask the why question”.  And I disagree for a couple of reasons;

  • ·        Where attention goes, energy flows
  • ·        Every action has a positive intention


Where attention goes, energy flows

               Interestingly this is often the reason quoted for avoiding the question, ‘Why?’  In my story of the world I see the client’s map as a useful opportunity for directing attention towards new possibilities while remaining congruent with their experience.  If you are asking ‘Why?’ you are looking for reasons and by examining possible reasons from unfamiliar angles we can uncover unexpected information.


Every action has a positive intention

               Following the ‘Why?’ route leads us naturally and logically to discovering positive intentions.  For the little girl who was biting her nails, her mum answered her own question, “When she bites her nails she begins to relax”.

               I was able to join her on this pathway by asking “What other ways have you noticed to help her relax?” To Mum this was an unexpected direction and a few more questions elicited strategies that included whispering the little girl’s name and smiling at her, singing, and looking out of the window.

               Mum was able to break her daughter’s nail biting habit by remembering that its positive intention was to help her relax.


Adult or child, we all have habits that seem ‘bad for us’. By asking how, at some level, they are getting something positive for us, we can begin the process of replacing them with the habits we would choose for ourselves.

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