5 Ways How to Break Bad Habits
Is it Time to Change Your Habits?
Bad habits are a part of being human.
If they're bad enough they can take control of you and steer your life in the wrong direction.
Bad habits can be negative self-talk, counterproductive behaviours, or outright self destructive vices like drugs and cigarettes.
Most people have tried to quit their bad habits but have had limited success.
They relapse back into the old habit and put it into the 'too hard basket' to think about some other time.
Breaking your bad habits means rewiring your neurology.
Your brain is designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
If your bad habit gives you short term (perceived) pleasure and quitting gives you pain, you can find yourself in a bind.
If your brain gains more pleasure than pain from an act it will keep seeking pleasure from the act.
When the behaviour creates more pain than pleasure you'll start moving away from it.
You'll repeat the same habits unless you rewire your brain for a different result.
Changing the habit takes time and repetition.
Don't expect to change a habit you’ve had for years overnight.
The decision can be made in a moment. But the new habit takes time to embed itself into your unconscious.
Your new patterns of behaviour have to override the old.
Bad habits can be replaced with more positive and empowering ones.
Here are some strategies that can help you change the habit and change your life.
5 Ways How to Break Bad Habits
1. Change Your Self Image
Your self-image controls your thoughts, actions, and your entire life.
Your habits build around who you believe yourself to be.
As an example take the habit of procrastination.
If you procrastinate you might start identifying as ‘a procrastinator’.
People's behaviour reflects how they see themselves.
Labelling yourself a procrastinator is like giving yourself permission to procrastinate.
Each time you procrastinate your identity as a procrastinator is reinforced.
A negative feedback loop is formed.
The opposite is also true.
If you label yourself a success and reaffirm your ability to get things done you solidify your self identity as a successful person.
Your thoughts and actions are then aligned with the identity of a successful person.
Revise your self-image.
1.1 How to Change Your Self Image
So how do you start to change your self-identity?
Start with a clear idea of who you want to be and what you want to have.
Decide what behaviours and habits you want to embed into your own personality.
Visualise yourself doing those new behaviours.
See yourself in your minds eye as the person you want to be.
Visualise yourself living the life you want to have.
Rewire your neurology. Neurons that fire together wire together.
Apply the power of your mind to become who you want to be.
The human brain is plastic. You can literally change your brain.
The change is a subtle and gradual process.
You won't notice the change until it's already happened.
Change your self-image by seeing yourself as someone new.
Start doing new behaviours that are aligned with the person you want to be.
Set new goals and read books.
Bombard your mind with stimulus related to your new self-image.
2. Go For Small Wins
Don’t set your bar so high you that your mind wont believe you can do it.
When you want to change a bad habit don't set the expectation that you have to resist the habit everyday for the rest of your life.
Start with one day, one week, then one month.
If a habits been formed and repeated over many years don't pressure yourself to change overnight.
Set up small wins for yourself then stack them on top of each other.
That way you get momentum and confidence, which makes the bigger goals come easier.
Breaking a big goal into smaller pieces makes it more manageable.
Make long term progress one small win at a time.
3. Avoid Laziness and Complacency
Complacency is the enemy of success.
Laziness and complacency kills your efforts to break bad habits by destroying any momentum you've built up.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Once you've changed your behaviour and ceased a habit you still need to be vigilant not to relapse into the old behaviour.
Repeating that old behaviour even once will take you back to the beginning.
Your unwanted neurological connection is still intact.
If you reawaken it you'll be right back where you started.
Recovering alcoholics and addicts can be sober for years.
But they know if they take even one drink or hit they'll become an addict again.
Your bad habits come back to haunt you if you let your guard down.
Stay vigilant and avoid complacency.
4. Choose a New Habit to Replace the Old One
To successfully break a bad habit you have to replace it with a better one.
Your mind needs something new to focus on.
Keep your mind occupied with the new behaviour until it replaces the old habit.
Choose a new habit that makes your life better and provides you with pleasure and joy.
Repeat and condition that habit into your life and become a new and better you.
You can use this with all your bad habits. But it's easier to choose one at a time.
5. Understand the Nature of Your Bad Habits
The reason you do the bad habit is because on some level it gives you pleasure.
If there was no pleasure from the behaviour you wouldn’t be doing it.
Your behaviour revolves around the pain/pleasure principle.
This is why many people hit rock bottom before they do a complete turn around and transform their life.
Think about the pleasure you gain from your bad habit.
Then think about the long-term pain you will experience if you don’t change it.
Use pain/pleasure to align your habits with who you want to be and what you want to have.
Make a good life for yourself. Sometimes just a few small changes can make the biggest difference.
Things to Remember About Breaking Habits
Habits are neurological processes that have been conditioned over time.
The habit has been anchored to your nervous system through repetition.
To break your bad habits you need a strong desire to be better, persistence, and determination.
Don't make things complicated for yourself.
The principles of success are simple.
- Adjust your self-image
- Go for small wins
- Avoid complacency
- Replace the bad habit with a better one
- Associate more pleasure than pain to the new habit
Best Quotes About Breaking Your Bad Habits
“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” ―Benjamin Franklin
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” ―Stephen Covey
“I have learned that champions aren’t just born; champions can be made when they embrace and commit to life-changing positive habits.” ―Lewis Howes
“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” ―John Irving