If you want to change your life, you have to change what you do every day. Many people try to make a grand gesture to change the trajectory of their lives but alas, no good comes of it.
Bad habit after bad habit keeps sabotaging their efforts and bringing them right back to where they started. Does this sound familiar?
The good news is that you can break a bad habit. You can overcome bad habits and create a life that you love. Continue reading this article and we will give you some tools and tips that will help you get out of your rut and on a path that is going to give you the results you want.
Why Can’t I Break My Bad Habit?
Before you can kick your bad habit to the curb, you need to understand why it is so hard to get rid of those bad habits.
Habits are driven by a three-part loop. There’s the trigger, routine and reward for each of these habits.
You might be making an odd face right now and thinking that your habit doesn’t have a reward at the end. Even bad habits that cause knowingly negative things in our lives have some sort of payoff but it’s more difficult to tell what the payoff is.
The more that you go through the loop, the stronger the loop is. It’s like you’re digging a rut deeper and deeper each time you engage with that bad habit. Your brain associates your bad habit with a deep need that you have and that is why it is so difficult to break your habit.
Digging deep to see what needs the habit is fulfilling will help as you’re working to break free of it.
Breaking the Bad Habit
Now that you know why these bad habits have such a strong grip on you, let’s get into how to get rid of them. See below.
1. Change Your Words
Our words can be very disempowering when we are dealing with something that feels so much more powerful than us. Our language can either help us get out of the rut but filling the hole or our language can continue to throw dirt out of the rut and make us go down, down, down.
One of the phrases we need to change out in our lives is “I can’t” for “I don’t.”
Let’s say that you’re trying to stop eating donuts. The first thing that might come to your mind is — I can’t eat donuts! I can’t eat donuts! How does that feel when you say that?
Right! It feels like you’re very restricted and you’re missing out on something.
On the other hand, if you change that thought up and say — I don’t eat donuts. Notice how that feels. You almost feel a sense of pride and you definitely feel a sense of pride because you’ve made the decision not to eat the donut.
You haven’t made that decision because of some outside force that told you that you can’t. You’ve made that decision of your own free will and you simply don’t eat donuts.
This strategy works with all types of situations — not just when you don’t want to eat certain foods. Give it a try the next time you come up against one of these situations.
2. Practice Becoming Aware
Many of us are on auto-pilot and don’t even notice when we experience a trigger. If we don’t know what is triggering us, it is difficult to get ourselves off the bad habit train.
Practicing mindfulness strategies can help you break your bad habit. If you can interrupt the feedback loop, you have the opportunity to stop the loop altogether.
Once you start being aware of the triggers that are causing you to get into that loop, you can start working to chip away at that bad habit. When you notice that you are experiencing a trigger, take a minute to notice what is happening.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Where was I?
- Who was there?
- What was I doing?
- How was I feeling?
- What happened right before I noticed the trigger?
Asking these questions will allow you to get some deep insight into what is causing your habit triggers. When you figure out the triggers, you can start to deal with them. Some people are able to avoid them but others have to be around them because it is an essential part of their life.
3. Use If-Then
Some people have used strategies from therapy and others have even tried a hypnotist stage performer for help with their bad habits. While you want to use a method that works, the method you use isn’t as important as just having a plan in place to get the job done.
One of the strategies many people find effective is the if-then strategy. With this strategy, you need to get very specific.
Identify one of your triggers. Think of a different response for the trigger.
Imagine yourself experiencing the trigger and using the new response. If this happens, I will then do this.
For instance, if you usually drink when a friend comes over but you don’t want to, you would say — If Sara comes over and wants to drink then I will tell her that I would rather have water.
Bye Bye Bad Habit
Congratulations. You’ve got tools and information that can help you break your bad habit. Take action and start working toward a life that you can wake up and be excited about in the morning.
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