For more than 30 years, Kim turned to Coca-Cola to help her get through the day. “It was always my afternoon pick-me-up and my evening sugar fix,” the 62-year-old says. While Kim loved indulging in the fizzy drink, she hated the hold it had on her and tried to give it up on multiple occasions.
She’d often go a day or two without it when trying to quit. “And then I’d think, ‘No, it’s easier just to have a Coke’. ” The problem was, Kim didn’t just have one, she’d drink one to two litres each day.
When Kim heard about a retreat being run by hypnotherapist and author Mark Stephens designed to
help people kick their bad habits, her interest was piqued. At the retreat, Stephens honed Kim’s commitment to wanting to quit. He taught her that she needed to replace that habit with a healthier one.
She walked out of the retreat in December 2020 with a totally transformed mindset. Every time
she craved a Coke, she made herself a glass of iced water instead. “And I haven’t touched it since.”
Kim is one of the many people to have benefited from Stephens’ methods, a unique blend of hypnotherapy and meditation. Stephens says he can guide people to break “pretty close to any habit”, ranging from food (and, clearly, soft drink) addictions to nail-biting, social media and procrastination. If you have an addiction to hard drugs or alcohol, however, he recommends seeking professional help.
Stephens says his method has a 90 per cent success rate in people committed to change but maintains the key to busting a bad habit is that you have to want to do it.
Once you’ve made that commitment, you need to learn the triggers that make you engage in your habit in the first place. They could be stress, boredom or the desire to avoid discomfort. Next, rid your house of temptation and aim to steer clear of social situations that may lead you to lapse.
You then need to choose a new habit to replace the “bad” one. Next, take a photo of yourself indulging in the old, bad habit, and another of you doing your new, preferred one. Print both those photos and keep them handy.
When you next feel the urge to indulge in your bad habit, pick up the photograph of yourself doing it
and say, “I don’t need it, I don’t want it, I won’t do it.” Now throw that image on the floor and pick up the picture of yourself doing your preferred activity. Focus on how good you’ll feel when you always choose that option. Repeating these actions, Stephens says, will retrain your brain.