Break a Bad Habit and Instill a New One
If your goal is to break a bad habit (or two), you know that you have a difficult goal to accomplish. Why? Habits are a recurring, unconscious behavior – behavior you’ve picked up from repetition and continues to occur when you’re not aware that you’re doing it.
When a situation or thought happens, a strategy to deal with it occurs unconsciously. That means you never even realize that you’ve picked up a “habit.”
Since it’s an unconscious behavior, beating a habit via sheer determination and willpower is extremely hard to do. For instance, a cigarette smoker has a goal to quit smoking and the routine has been having a cup of coffee while smoking. While drinking a cup of coffee he suddenly realizes that he is smoking too. The smoker lit the cigarette without even thinking about it.
Bad habits can also manifest as negative emotions. Have you seen co-workers, friends, or family members who automatically become angry or moody whenever things don’t go their way? Do you find yourself often being critical about other people or events? These negative emotional responses could also be viewed as emotional bad habits.
One way to eliminate a bad habit is to implement a new habit. You will have to practice this new habit repeatedly until it becomes automatic. There is a common theory that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Twenty-one days appears to be a minute price to pay to overcome a bad habit and to experience the life time of benefits that come from a good habit.
3 Ways to Start the Process of Breaking a Bad Habit
Do you have a bad habit or two that you want to beat? Be aware that you’re not alone! Everybody has a bad habit they’d like to break. What can you do to start the process?
Practice Self Awareness
Self- awareness is about understanding your own particular needs, wants, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you who you are. This helps you to reinvent who you are, to make better decisions and get in touch with your feelings and thoughts. Pay close attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment. This is also called mindfulness. By practicing self-awareness, the unconscious automatic thoughts and behaviors become conscious, and this is where you make tremendous progress. This is where you can stop or change the habit instantly.
Decide To Focus On Each Habit Separately
In order to defeat your habits, try to focus on the worst one first. Trying to eliminate several at once could become overwhelming. Negative habits are self-destructive and embedded deep into your subconscious mind. You may choose to eliminate that habit, but it’s still going to rear its ugly head. Don’t become discouraged. Have compassion when you notice you're repeating the bad habit. Implementing changes will take time.
Get Support for New Habits
Seek out support to help increase your chances for success when instilling new habits. This can be a single person or a group that keeps you accountable and provides you with the encouragement to attain your goals. There’s no reason to create a formal support network. Talking with a friend or loved one may be enough to keep you on track.
Regardless of how many days it takes you, the focus should be to break the bad habit and continue with the new one that adds positive rewards to your life
Coach, Counselor, Author.