Everyone want’s to know how break bad habits, but so many lack the tools and information to do so. What’s “bad”, of course is subject to personal opinion, but we won’t go into that. The first thing most people do when they want to break a habit is stop the behavior cold turkey. That works for some people, but isn’t the most effective way at doing so. There are easier ways.
It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. – Benjamin Franklin
- Breaking a habit usually involves leaving one’s comfort zone
- Challenging your comfort from time to time helps deal with fear involved in habit changing
- Change is pursued when the discomfort of a bad habit exceeds the discomfort of the desired change
- Change is a lighter, but longer discomfort than the bad habit, until a new, good habit forms that is
- Habits (good or bad) are not genetic or instinctual in any way
- Behavioral patterns are picked up from the environment
5 Ways to Break bad Habits
Correcting bad habits cannot be done by forbidding or punishment. – Robert Baden-Powell
Finding the Root of Your Bad Habit
Most people cling to the path of least resistance. Rightfully so too. Unfortunately, what seems to be the path of least resistance at the time is only true for the short run. In the long run, it may end up ruining your life. The long run is sometimes mistakenly overlooked in the decision making process. Habits are picked up from the environment. You want to make sure you’re looking at the whole forest, not just a single tree. If you picked up smoking, it might have been because you were exposed to it at a young age or your friends were smoking.
If you drive without your seat belt on, it might be because you didn’t feel comfortable wearing it. Once you get a ticket however, you’ll start to wear it. The environmental stimulus caused a response. That’s why Alcohol Anonymous is effective. Because you’re in an environment where no one is drinking. They’ll even tell you in programs like that to avoid friends and hobbies that promote that behavior.
Find a Counter Habit
A mistake most people try to make is getting rid of their bad habit. In order to change any behavior, value or habit, it must be replaced with another. If someone starts smoking when they get nervous, you have to give them something else to do when they get nervous. Trying to quit cigarettes is extremely hard without a replacement. If someone has a bad gambling habit, picking up a competitive hobby may help. A lot of athletes have stories about being drunks or addicts and “football” or “boxing” or “bowling” pulled them out of it.
Instead of asking yourself how to break a bad habit, discover some new good ones. Once you fill up your tool box with a lot of good habits, you simply won’t have time for the ones you consider bad!
I have the same friends and the same bad habits. – Nate Silver
Follow Other Friends or a Community
Let’s face it. To some degree, you are the company you keep. A few years ago I met a
great guy and we became friends. Every time I hung out with him, I use to go home with a headache. I wondered why for a long time until one day I figured it out. This dipshi’t use to talk really loud. I mean the dude would get hyped up sometimes and sound like a football fan at the super bowl. I started hanging out with him less and the headaches went away. Eventually, I explained the situation to him and he became self conscious of it. I have friends that once they being hanging out with me more, stop drinking and start exercising. They get sucked into my vortex so to speak. Friends influence friends, it’s a very simple idea.
I’m not telling you to stop hanging out with your best friend here. You might, however, schedule your hangouts accordingly. For example, if you know your friends like to drink at night, hang out with them during the day or go to a movie with them. Try to engage them in an environment that doesn’t promote that behavior.
Challenging Your Comfort
It’s no surprise that developing a new habit or dumping an old one can leave you uncomfortable. If you toss an old habit, you may feel naked. Similarly, if you try making any new behavior a habit, you may feel out of place. The key here is knowing how to handle yourself in an uncomfortable situation. It’s good to challenge yourselves to uncomfortable situations every now and then. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable talking to your neighbor in the elevator, challenge yourself to keep up a conversation with them until you reach their floor. You may even surprise yourself. The idea here is that if you’re familiar with handling uncomfortable situations, the inconvenience of change will be less of an inconvenience. Catch my drift?
Consistency is key when trying to figure out how to break bad habits. If you don’t keep your friend schedule, your counter habit, or your behavioral roots in mind at all times, it will all fall apart. When you get use to doing something over and over again, it becomes a habit. Environmental reinforcement makes consistency happen. Sometimes you’ll have to force yourself and push through the pain and discomfort in order for a habit to form. Keep these habit breaking tips and mind and pull it all together with consistency!