We become physically or mentally addicted to things, food, spending, nail-biting and other behaviors that shape our bad habits. An 7-step method to get rid of them.
One day we smoke our first cigarette, eat our first packet of chips, or discover how easy it is to spend money on a credit card. Before you know it, one decision will turn into a big bad habit.
Do you know what bad habits you have? You are not happy with yourself that you cannot get rid of them. You don’t want to admit that these are bad habits, but deep down you know that they are holding you back.
If you are like me, you have probably tried to quit smoking many times in order to break the habit and free yourself from restrictive, unhealthy actions or thoughts. You may have had a little success, but over time, you will return to this bad habit, as a predator returns to its prey.
And we do it systematically and deliberately to increase our self-esteem. Why, oh why don’t we have the composure to just say STOP ??
It is really hard to get rid of bad habits, but if you start doing it, you will feel much better. This is because you have been “teaching” your brain a habit for a long time. You have worked hard for this bad habit.
Imagine walking through the woods along a clean and easy path. Then you decide to get off the trail and walk through a thicket of dense forest. Pretty soon you find yourself walking down the well-trodden path again. This is what happens when you try to break bad habits and develop new behaviors.
So is it possible to permanently go out of the way of a bad habit and not return to it? Yes … that’s if you use very specific skills.
How to break bad habits with good habits
1. Identify a bad habit
For your perhaps first attempt at breaking a bad habit, you should start with a relatively light habit. If you smoke or drink too much, do not start there, as they are associated with strong physical dependence. Start with something like a bedtime snack or nail-biting to immediately increase your chances of success. If your only real bad habit is something difficult, just realize that it will take more time and patience to get rid of it.
2. Get rid of cravings
In the beginning, you will have a strong craving and an irresistible desire for your bad habit. Don’t think you can’t succeed, instead of forcing yourself to wait 15-20 minutes.
Take a deep breath, use your positive habit, and call a friend to distract yourself. If you can ride the wave of your desire, you will notice that it weakens on its own. These cravings will decrease in the coming weeks, especially if you regularly practice the replacement habit.
3. Create hints for yourself
It may sound crazy, but write down every time you crave your bad habit of using an app on your phone or a notepad. Ask yourself where you are, what time it is, what you are doing, and who is next to you.
The answers to these questions will tell you the origins of your bad habit. For example, if biting your nails is a bad habit, you may find yourself doing it every time you sit down to watch TV or when your mother-in-law enters the room.
4. Plan life difficulties
Life inevitably throws up difficulties, and we are not always ready to face them, so planning them can become one of the ways to get rid of bad habits. On our way – we receive bad news, we are sad, or we are in an unfamiliar or stressful situation. These are the times when we can take a “what the heck” attitude and go back to our old habits. If you plan for these situations ahead of time, you are more likely to be able to maintain your new habit and not break the routine you have developed so carefully.
Think about how you usually respond to stress, mood swings, or other difficulties in life. Have you noticed that you rely on a bad habit to get rid of it? If so, how can you use positive self-talk, support from friends and family, and other positive means to cope with difficulties without resorting to old bad habits? Create your own contingency plan.
5. Separate yourself from reward
Each bad habit satisfies some need or desire. You can bite your nails to relieve stress. You may be spending too much money to get pleasure or the thrill of something new. Maybe you eat chips because you like the salty crunchy taste. Think about what exactly you get from this bad habit and how you feel at the same time.
6. Keep a diary
Research has shown that assessing behavior and keeping track of your progress increases the chances of achieving success and developing the habits of successful people. How to get rid of bad habits is, first of all, evaluating your actions and observing your successes (and failures) to change the habit provides motivation for action and meaningfulness.
Each day, write down if you were able to identify your triggers and replace a bad habit with a good one. Write down your feelings and how difficult it was to break the habit and apply the new habit. Give yourself a rating from 1 to 10, where one is very easy, and ten is very difficult. Over time, you will notice that your grades get lower and lower.
7. Find a positive substitute
One of the reasons why you rarely get rid of the bad habit of biting your nails is because you leave a vacuum that you want to fill. If you don’t replace your bad habit with something else, you will definitely revert to your old behavior.
Find a new, positive behavior that you can use to replace your bad habit. Remind yourself of the pleasures of a bad habit. This will help you find a positive habit that can bring you the same or similar rewards.
For example, how to get rid of a bad habit if you bite your nails because you are nervous – do knitting or any other needlework that will occupy your fingers and relieve stress.
If you like crispy, salty snacks (like potato chips), replace them with crispy vegetables or fruits.
If you cannot find a similar positive substitute for a bad habit, choose an alternative that is completely opposite to your bad habit. For example, how to get rid of a bad habit if you spend too much time on the Internet after returning home from work, it is better to go outside and take a walk.
Your reward will not fully satisfy the craving for your bad habit, but it will provide a similar substitute effect. This action will help you overcome urges and change your behavior.
Depending on the complexity of your bad habit, it may take several months before you feel like it has lost control of you and a new habit has taken root. Be patient with yourself. Stay on course and return to these steps when you have setbacks. By making constant efforts, you will get rid of this bad habit – and you will develop a new positive habit that will improve your life.