It's late at night and I just finished cleaning up the kitchen. I look around – the dishwasher is quietly purring, peanut butter sandwiches and apple juice are packed in brown bags for the kids' lunches tomorrow, the counters are gleaming, the floors shine ─ it looks like I'm done for the day. But instead of heading out of the kitchen and into my peaceful bedroom, my feet take me to the pantry.

Knowledge is not an issue ─ desire to change isI want something yummy, and perhaps a piece of hazelnut chocolate will do. But as the chocolate delights my taste buds, I ask myself: "Why? You are still digesting mushroom vegetable soup, string beans with chicken and wild rice, and a hefty piece of zucchini kugel from dinner. Why do you have to have this piece of chocolate right now?"

Studying psychology and hypnotherapy has given me an understanding of why I do many things, and insights that help me stop unwanted habits. In this case, however, knowledge is not an issue ─ desire to change is. Staring at this innocent chocolate bar, I am not totally sure that I want to send it to jail, lock it in, and throw away the key. But then this tiny voice reaches out through the peristaltic sounds of my gastrointestinal tract, echoing in my mind: "This habit is not good for you. The longer you do it, the stronger it becomes, making it harder to break." I know that the voice is right ─ it's been nagging at me for a while now. So I put the rest of the chocolate bar back in the pantry and decide to ban the "night pantry syndrome" from my daily routine.

So I follow the habit-banning protocol I know, taking a step-by-step approach. First I need to understand where this habit is coming from; I need to remove its emotional root. That night, relaxing in bed, I ask myself why I do it and immediately get a vision. I am five years old and at my grandma's apartment. She's patting my back and telling me a story as I'm cuddling up to her in bed. I guess she's watching me while my parents are out. Then the doorbell rings and I hear my dad's voice saying that it's time to go home.

"I don't want to go home," I begin to cry. "I want to stay at Grandma's for the night."

That night I fall asleep praying "Not tonight, Katya," my dad says, picking me up. With eyes full of tears and my lower lip trembling, I try to hold on to my grandma's hand. Wiping my tears away, she says she has something for me and hands me a small bar of chocolate.

"Interesting," I whisper, opening my eyes. "It was so long ago, but some part of me still remembers that night." And what's even more interesting is that this chocolate habit of mine began shortly after my grandma died.

I get out of bed and walk into the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I tell myself: "I know that you miss your grandma, but eating chocolate at night won't bring her back." I find my grandma's old wool shawl and wrap myself in it, feeling her warmth and love, much sweeter than a chocolate bar. That night I fall asleep praying to G‑d to heal this wounded part of me that's still grieving over my grandma's death.

For the next week, I visualize a brilliant golden light surrounding me, bathing me in its radiance. I do this for a week or so, then choose this affirmation: "I am calm and satisfied in the evening." Right before I say the bedtime prayer of Shema and right after I say the Modeh Ani prayer, the prayer of gratitude for awakening in the morning, I repeat this affirmation. I thank G‑d for making it real, and in my mind I see it already happening – leaving the kitchen without the need for a pacifier.

Feeling triumphant, I leave the kitchen It's been two weeks since I actively decided to change this unwanted behavior: meditating to gain insight into why I do it, praying to G‑d to heal the "why," introducing the affirmation to my brain and visualizing the end result.

So tonight, as I am putting the kids' cheese crackers back into the pantry, my eyes fall upon my favorite chocolate bar, and to my great surprise I don't want it.

"I got you!" I point my finger at the bar. "You are in jail." Feeling triumphant, I leave the kitchen. But by the time I reach my bedroom I realize that it's not that I've put the chocolate bar behind bars, but rather that I've released myself from the prison of this habit. And as I climb into bed, I'm wondering how many parts of me are still locked in jail cells, waiting to be freed. And if I could free this one, then with G‑d's help I can launch a search mission for many more.