Some of us are slaves to a few poor behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, excessive drinking, not having an exercise routine, or going months without getting a full night’s sleep.
You may be ashamed of your bad habits, but you just can’t seem to get rid of them.
Here’s how you can do it:
- First, read this article below to get a beginner-level idea of habit change.
- Second, go to this authority-level guide to learn how to use psychology to break or build a habit.
How To Get Rid Of A Bad Habit (And Stop It Permanently)
Bad habits are difficult to break since they are strongly ingrained in your everyday behavior patterns.
Changing old, bad behavior requires more than just willpower (which comes in limited supply, anyway). However, through science, you can control and stop your tendency to repeat those regular patterns of unhelpful behavior.
Here is the first idea on how to get rid of a bad habit and stop it permanently:
For achieving the success that you deserve, you always need to find your “Why?”
Most people let bad habits, biases, and mental heuristics keep them from reaching their full potential.
First, find out why you want to break a bad habit or stop an unhelpful behavior pattern permanently.
- A cigarette addict (smoker or vaper) may believe they can’t quit because they love cigarettes so much, but that may be a lie they tell themselves.
- It is more likely that they enjoy the feeling of holding a cigarette in their hand, nestling it between their lips, and lighting it up, more than the actual act of smoking.
- In fact, most smokers hate the actual process (inhaling the toxic smoke) so much that they want to toss the lit cigarette away as soon as they have had their first whiff.
- But they don’t because, one, they paid for it, and two, people would label them as crazy if they threw it out after the first puff.
Instead of chastising yourself for smoking while you are smoking, take some time to reflect on the habit while you are not smoking.
Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the bad habit, focus on the positive benefits of getting rid of it.
3 Steps To Changing Bad Habits
Step 1: Find Out What Triggers Your Bad Habit.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, then you need to find out why you started in the first place.
What was going through your mind at the time? Was it stress? Did you see someone else doing it? Were you bored?
Once you’ve figured out the reason behind your bad habit, you can start thinking about ways to avoid those situations in the future.
Take 2 minutes “after” indulging in the unhealthy behavior to write about your experience of smoking that cigarette (on a phone app, like Google Keep or Notion).
Then add a line about what gains you would make if you quit smoking.
Doing it at least once a day might help you grasp the real reason behind that terrible habit and discover what good you can bring in by stopping it.
Thinking about how much healthier and happier you’ll be when you finally kick the habit may actually motivate you to do so.
Step 2: Start By Picking One Habit You Want To Change.
Letting go of a long-held habit is an overwhelming task for your brain, since habits are automatic patterns that conserve energy.
- Habits are heuristics or brain shortcuts that happen at an unconscious, lower brain level.
- Habits do not require involving the thinking, higher brain, which needs a lot of energy to operate.
You may have a list of bad habits that you want to stop and replace with good ones. But you have to start with one.
Choose one behavior that you would like to eliminate the most.
List out every little thing that goes into the making of that one terrible habit of yours, from money to time to emotional state.
Try to understand deeply why you do it and how you feel when you do it. Explore the behavior and the surrounding rituals.
Think about how you would feel and what great things you would accomplish when you stopped the habit.
You may discover new ways to break your behavior, and even start the quitting process sooner than you expected.
Gather everything you need to do to quit repeating your behavior.
You might need to cut back on certain activities, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or eating unhealthy foods. These may need the adoption of a replacement habit right away.
- if you want to stop being sedentary, you should start exercising regularly;
- if you intend to stop staying up late scrolling through dopamine-hiking videos, you should hack your sleep habits and start getting enough sleep; and
- if you would like to stop taking nonprescription medications, you should start meditating (here’s a beginner’s guide to mindfulness meditation).
Step 3: Finally, Start Working Towards Breaking Those Bad Habits.
Once you have understood your vice in detail, and written down what you need to do to stop it, you must reach out and gather all available help to set yourself up for success.
Help can come in two ways: self-help and coach-help.
For self-help, you may write yourself motivational notes and stick them at places like your bathroom mirror, clothing wardrobe, and work desk.
Make sure you’re not surrounded by things that will tempt you to relapse into your old ways.
If you’re going to work from home, make sure you have no junk food lying around that’s tempting you. If you’re going on vacation, make sure you have nothing that may remind you of your bad habits.
Coach-help may come as helpful books, artificial intelligence-powered habit-change apps, or human coaching.
5 Bestseller Books on Habits
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg PhD
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins
- Habits of A Happy Brain by Loretta Breuning
According to researchers, habit formation or obliteration is not a standalone behavior.
The psychology of habit change says that there are two main strategies to modify a habitual behavior:
- Reinforcement through reward, and
- Prevention through punishment.
Now, head over to this definitive guide, 7 Steps To Break Or Build Any Habit Using Psychology.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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