9 Steps To Breaking A Bad Habit
We all have them. Whether it’s minor or life-changing, everyone has bad habits they could do without. Some might come with physical addictions, while others are simple social habits which make us look foolish or tick people off. Some bad habits might have long term health effects.
Whether you bite your nails or yell at your children, there are certain ways to help yourself face your bad habits and try to mend your ways.
Before self-improvement happens, you have to focus on your actions. Figure out the costs of your bad habits and the reasons you started the habit in the first place. Self-analysis helps you begin to cope when you are faced with the habit the next time.
Once you know why the bad habit is a part of your life, you can start to deal with the habit itself.
1. Keep a journal of your habit.
This forces you to face your actions every day. Every time your habitual behavior “takes over”, you’ll have a record of it and force yourself to remember.
Note what your thoughts and emotions were as you were involved in the habit. This allows analysis of why you are performing this habit. This kind of self-evaluation is healthy for you.
2. Ask yourself why you enjoy the habit or why you started it in the first place.
Analyse the thought process which started the habit. Were you looking for acceptance from your peers? Was it an escape from some life condition?
Whatever the case, once you start to reason out your actions, you’ll probably find those actions don’t make logical sense. This will prepare you to change your behavior.
3. Focus on the negative repercussions of your habit.
Write these down if it helps you. What is your bad habit costing you?
Once your start to understand that you are losing out on many things do to this bad habit, this will motivate you to modify your behavior.
4. Understand the obvious benefits of dropping your habit.
There are always alternatives, and curtailing one action gives you more time for other ones.
Think about what you could be doing instead of your bad habit. Figure out positive ways to meet the same needs which were originally filled by your bad habit. Then start to practice these new habits.
5. Focus on your behavior.
Figure out how serious you are about changing the habit. Do you want to avoid the negatives of the habit or do you want to continue the habit?
6. Practice discipline in the moment.
It’s easy to tell yourself you can change your bad habit. This doesn’t matter much if you wilt in the moment of truth.
A lot of bad habits have to do with instant gratification. You know that some action isn’t good for you in the big picture or in the long term, but you want to live in the moment. You want to gratify your momentary needs. It’s hard to stay disciplined, because giving into your impulses is just so easy. Most of the time, it’s pleasurable. But when you start to perform some action you know is bad for you, you have to catch yourself. Nobody else will.
7. Getting rid of a bad habit is learning good habits.
You’ll probably replace your bad actions with something else. This may take a little getting used to, but your new life will eventually become comfortable to you and feel right.
Remember to practice patience with yourself. If you fall back into the old habit, don’t kick yourself around for it. Don’t fall into self-pity and decide you can’t beat the habit. Just get back to your healthy behavior. One time doesn’t have to turn into two and three and then a habit.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from friends, family or fellow sufferers.
We are social creatures. People coping with the consequences of their actions draw strength from each other. It isn’t a weakness to ask for help or simply to vent about how difficult your self-improvement is.
Get comfortable talking about the habit. When you talk to others, they might be able to provide advice or encouragement that you normally wouldn’t get from yourself.
9. One final note on this subject. If your bad habit has an addictive quality to it, this is going to be a lot harder.
You might need professional help, because an addiction has a medical component to it.