You’re probably familiar with the concept that habits make up a huge part of our lives — good, bad, or otherwise. But did you know that the average person has anywhere between 40 and 60 daily habits? That’s a lot of habits! If you want to break up with one bad habit, it can be challenging. But if you want to break up with three or four bad habits, then you have to be fully committed to break the chain!
You have to also understand that bad habits are not hard to break, but we have to understand that they are not going to go away overnight. It takes time and effort to get rid of bad habits.
The first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem with these habits. Then, think about why you have these habits and what can be done so that they don’t come back again in the future.
1. Identify your triggers.
If you recall, these are the first steps in developing our habits, and by identifying them, we can begin to move past them. You might want to think about your habits and whether they follow any patterns, such as when or where the behavior occurs, how you feel when it occurs, and what you are doing when it occurs. Change your environment to avoid or eliminate those triggers.
2. Enlist the help of a friend or coworker.
It is often easier to break a habit when you have someone holding you accountable, and vice versa, because you have someone who is also trying to break that habit. When you do well, encourage one another, and when you are challenged, cheer each other on. To avoid slipping, gently remind each other of the reason for working on breaking your habit.
3. Change your bad habit for a good one.
It is often easier for people to replace an unwanted behavior with a new one. If we use the previous example of feeling stressed at work leading to internet browsing, we will most likely end up feeling even more stressed because we are avoiding doing the work. However, we can replace internet browsing with something more productive, such as talking to a coworker or going for a walk, which will help reduce stress levels. The desire to follow a new routine will develop as you repeat new behaviors.
4. Be prepared to make mistakes from time to time.
Nothing is more difficult than attempting to break an old habit. When our new patterns haven't been solidified, it can be very easy to revert to old ones. When you mentally prepare for your mistakes, you are less likely to feel guilty or discouraged when they occur. However, don't let the blunder lead you back to your old ways. Learn from it and what caused it, as well as if there is anything you need to change about your approach.
5. Set goals for yourself and reward yourself for your achievements.
Begin with something manageable, such as changing your routine for one day and doing something nice for yourself. Set a three-day goal, then a week-long goal. When you achieve your goal, you will feel proud of yourself and realise that you can live without your habit. If you are afraid of stopping, each time you do so, you are confronting that fear.
6. Determine how badly you want or need to quit.
It's easy to be hard on ourselves or feel guilty when we don't live up to unrealistic standards of perfection. We frequently believe that we "should" be a certain way when we simply need to be ourselves. Focusing on our "imperfections" makes us feel bad and as if we don't deserve to love or care for ourselves. The more we nurture ourselves, the less time we have for potentially harmful or time-wasting behaviours.
When you find yourself engaging in a bad habit, pause for a moment and consider using mindfulness to help you overcome it. Your behaviors may not change overnight, but persevere. If you can hack your mind using our methods, you will eventually be able to break free from bad habits and watch your cravings fade away.