Everyone does something that they know they shouldn’t but keep at it nonetheless.
For this reason, many people want to know how to break their bad habits. But before you can do so, it’s necessary to know how they start. Life Advancer explains this and has some solutions for quitting bad habits.
How Bad Habits Develop
Why do we keep doing what we know is unhealthy or self-destructive? Knowing how negative behaviors forms is the first step to breaking your bad habits.
1. The Dynamics of Bad Habits
First of all, a bad habit may be an unconscious sign of surrender. A person feels that his or her life is heading in the wrong direction so it wouldn’t make a difference. The person seldom realizes his or her behavior and that it signals defeat.
Stress also contributes to bad habits. Our self-destructive behaviors may be the result of not being able to tolerate mood swings or deal with unmet emotional needs.
3. The subconscious is stronger than the conscious
Though we want to break negative behavior patterns, a part of your psyche wants them. A bad habit develops when that subconscious force is stronger than the conscious part of your brain that tells you that it’s harmful.
4. Repetitive behavior becomes habitual
When a person repeats an action, it’s likely to activate neural pathways in the brain that cause him or her to repeat it. Pleasant events may enable the brain’s reward centers.
Furthermore, a person who doesn’t have self-regulation skills is more likely than his peers to fall into bad habits. If this person can’t control his or her emotions, he or she may turn to drugs fo fulfill his or her emotional needs.
6. Chemical Addiction
Another reason for a person’s negative habits is that he or she becomes addicted to chemicals in that it produces in the brain. Research proves that dopamine, a chemical in the brain may be responsible for habit formation.
7. Psychological Addiction
A person may become addicted to cigarettes for psychological reasons. The feeling of control a cigarette gives a person tempts him or her to keep smoking.
How to Break Bad Habits with These Tips and Hacks
Habits, good or bad, are patterns of behavior. Therefore, breaking patterns is the key to breaking these habits. Here’s how to get started:
1. Define the Habit
First of all, define the bad habit. Ambiguous descriptions like ‘I want to stop smoking‘ do little to help because they give you little to start.
Break the habit into little, doable behaviors. For example, instead of ‘I want to stop smoking,’ say, “I’ll give up smoking a packet of cigarettes a day”and increase that number as you decrease your dependency on them.
2. Know Your Triggers
Perhaps the refrigerator is your trigger for grabbing the chocolate cake mum always seems to have on hand. Perhaps social anxiety causes you to drink heavily at parties. Identifying your triggers will help you stop unwanted behavior before it starts.
Also, you’re so used to your habit that you may have adapted your environment to accommodate it. For example, junk food is easily accessible on the first shelf of your cabinet. Move it to a high shelf where you won’t bother to reach for it so often.
Deal with your triggers. Be proactive about getting rid of the junk food in your home. Before marching in the kitchen to grab a pizza, sit down and breathe deeply to relax.
3. Choose a Substitute for Your Bad Habit
Try substituting your unwanted habits with positive ones. Breaking negative habits is about replacing them with positive ones. If you light up because work stresses you, try vaping, which is less of a health risk than smoking.
4. Change the Pattern
Perhaps you don’t go to the gym after work because you’re too tired. Going during the weekend may be a solution. You may avoid working at your desk because it’s cluttered. Keeping it clear may help your focus.
Changing the larger patterns helps you to manage habits. Doing so will empower you with the willpower you need to break them.
5. Use Prompts
You can also substitute negative triggers with positive ones. Put your running shoes by the bed as a way to motivate yourself to exercise. You’ll want to jog because they’re the first things you’ll see in the morning.
6. Fine Yourself After Each Offense
Moreover, you can make an unwanted habit more painful by fining yourself each time you repeat it. Put some money in a jar whenever you have too much chocolate or too many sweets. Pain will help you quit your bad habits.
7. Make Small Changes
It’s not easy to stop smoking altogether overnight. Small changes, like cutting down on a pack a week or switching the cream in your coffee to a low-fat version, will make a difference in the long term. Making little adjustments tricks your brain into making the habit less necessary.
8. Prepare Yourself
Another way to break your bad habits is to prepare yourself. Think about yours before trying to change it. Consider the times you do it, and all the reasons you want to stop. You’ll be prepared to conquer it.
Visualize the future when you’re trying to stop your bad habit. Imagine a slimmer you in the mirror as you try to lose weight, or set up reminders when you’re at a bar to avoid drinking too much. You will increase your willpower.
10. Coach Yourself
Some research on your habit may help you break it. Read up on weight loss to find the best ways to shed pounds. You could also video yourself going through the steps to stop the behavior.
11. Conduct a Review
Analyze your situation when you’ve had a relapse. All of us have bad days, and setbacks are common. Find out what happened to trigger your relapse so that you can avoid it.
12. Create Loops
Since habits occur in repetitive cycles, create a positive one to replace the behavior you wish to stop. Factor in a reward for the positive practice. You will boot your old routines and substitute them for better ones.
13. Replace Positive Thoughts about Bad Habits
Each time you catch yourself thinking positively about your bad habits, reframe them to remind you about their negative aspects.
Suppose you believe that smoking helps you relax. Rephrase the thought. ‘Smoking helps me relieve stress, but each cigarette has nicotine and tar.’
14. Get Support
Surround yourself with people who will give you the help you need to eliminate your bad habit. Get a running buddy, or your mom to remind you not to stick your hand in the refrigerator.
15. Reward Yourself
Take the money you’ve been spending on alcohol or cigarettes and treat yourself to a vacation. You will feel that getting on the right path is worth your effort.
In all, there are many ways to break bad habits. They require effort but will yield a reward in the end.
Copyright © 2014-2023 Life Advancer. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.