When it comes down to it we all want to stop bad habits, but how do we go about breaking the vicious cycle? Obviously there is not just a magic button that we can press or we all would have done that by now. Let’s take a look though at some perspectives that just might be able to help you get off the merry-go-round.
Finding the Desire to Stop
Before you can successfully quit anything the first thing that you need to do is to find the desire to actually stop doing it. This is the reason that so many people fail at breaking a bad habit as they really didn’t want to stop in the first place. Finding the desire to make the change is a vital first step in the process.
I have seen this a lot when it comes to people quitting smoking cigarettes. They see all of the harmful things that they can do and often loved ones put pressure on them to quit, but in reality they don’t want to and thus fail to break the cycle and fall back into their normal smoking habits.
So the first step to break a bad habit is to look inward and to find your reason or reasons to make the change. Once you figure out what works for yourself, you have now started down the path of change and are ready for the next step.
This is probably the hardest step in ending a habit and that is making a conscious choice to do something different then you have been. You see a habit allows us to go through it without much thought and now we need to learn how to make sure that we are paying attention to what we are doing so that we can make a conscious choice.
My recommendation here is for you to identify a trigger that is leading you to your bad habit that you have chosen to work on changing. Once you have done that, you then want to create a mental note that every time the trigger comes into play that you want to stop for a second to think about what you are doing.
So if you were working on quitting smoking, perhaps you attached your trigger moment to when you pick up your pack of cigarettes. Now whenever you pick them up the little alarm goes off in your head giving you the opportunity to make a conscious choice to not smoke.
Again I would like to reiterate that this is a difficult part of the process and you may make mistakes while going through it. However, mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing as when they happen they will help you to reinforce your trigger as well making a better choice. Should you make a mistake, it is okay, just make sure that you forgive yourself and move on in a positive manner.
Three Weeks Later…
Making and breaking habits is a long process that typically takes about three weeks to completely change or start a habit. The first week is the hardest as it will be a daily challenge to keep to your desire to change. As you progress though it will become easier and easier until you don’t even have to think about it as you have now moved on.
Back when I was younger I had very bad habits with brushing my teeth. As I was now becoming a young adult, I took it upon myself to change that. I understood the three-week process of creating a new habit and made a little checklist that I taped to the bathroom mirror.
This list was in a clearly visible area that I frequented. This helped to remind me that I needed to brush my teeth 3 times daily. Each time I did I would color in 1 of the 3 little circles I had for each day.
At the end of the three weeks, I had formed a new positive habit and was no longer in need of the reminder on the mirror. I no longer had to think about it and make a conscious choice to brush my teeth as it was now a new good habit.
A Helpful Tool
One tool that can be very helpful in this process is learning how to meditate as it will help you to learn how to be mindful of your thoughts and help ease the anxiety of the change. Also, depending on what habits you are trying to break, meditating can be a good habit that could be switched out in place of the bad one.
I would also advise here not to think about meditation with any preconceptions. All to often people have the wrong perceptions of how it works and how to do it, when in reality it is not as hard or as involved as one might think.
Meditation can be as simple as just being aware of your breathing and involved as day long practices. For the most part though, just the simple practices of it are more than enough to help us in our everyday lives.
If you are not sure where to start with mediation I would recommend the following course to help you get started: A beginners guide to mindfulness meditation
Other Helpful Articles
There are several other articles that I have shared here in the past that directly relate to this topic that I would like to share with you as well.
The first article is, “Positive and Negative Thinking – How to Live a Better Life” in which I help you to take a look at how you are thinking and how that affects you. Obviously, getting your thoughts going in the direction you want them to can help you to make changes in your life.
The next article, “Managing Emotions in the Decision Making Process” will help you to understand the emotions involved with making these various decisions that we have talked about today.
Last I would like to recommend that you read, “The Importance of Learning From Mistakes” as it is vitally important in this process not to get down on yourself when you do make mistakes.
Other Resources Available
- Meditation Course by Selfhelptree
- How To Forgive Yourself
- Mindfulness Meditation Books By Alfred James
- Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Alan Carr
Share Your Story
Before I go I always like to ask that you share your story with us. The reason for this is that we each bring our own unique perspective to the table and yours might be what someone else needs to see to make their own breakthrough. So please, let us know how you have overcome bad habits or what tools worked for you.
Create a great day for yourself!
James W D