We all have habits. Some are good, and some are bad. Good habits aren’t the issue. It’s usually the bad ones that we desperately want to change. Maybe you spend too much time on Twitter, or you don’t like that you swear so much. Whatever the case is, breaking a bad habit is hard, especially if it’s a habit you have had for a long time. So how do you go about breaking them?
What triggers your habit?
Something usually triggers habits. “I wake up, so I brush my teeth” is a simple example. So the first thing to get rid of a bad habit is finding the trigger. For example, one of the worst habits that I have is staying up way too late. Why do I stay up so late? What’s the trigger? Dissociation is usually the answer for me. I get swallowed whole by a tv show, anime, book, or TikTok and dissociate for hours. I know that I need to avoid these things before bed; otherwise, I will not go to bed at a reasonable time. Figuring out what triggers your bad habits and finding the pattern will help break the habit.
Be mindful and remember why
Why do you want to change your habit? If there is a reason you want to change then, it will give you the motivation you need to see it through. In addition, setting goals and working towards them will help you be mindful of the change you are pursuing throughout your day.
If someone is trying to lose weight for health reasons, then constantly reminding themselves will give them the motivation to see it through. And with any goal-oriented anything, the best thing you can do is speak it into the universe. Write it down and place your goal or habit change in someplace that you will see every single day until accomplished.
Besides writing down your goal, the next best thing you can do for yourself is finding a friend to hold you accountable. It’s easy to cheat yourself or drag yourself down at times, but having someone to call you out and keep you accountable will keep you motivated. Make sure you pick a person who isn’t going to take any of your crappy excuses. We don’t need enablers in our ears when trying to break a habit. Pick a friend who will say the thing you probably don’t want to hear even though you need to hear it.
Replace an old habit with a new one
This step is pretty obvious and doesn’t need much explaining. Replace your old bad habit with something new. This is what most smokers do when they try to quit. For example, I have a friend who wanted to quit smoking chewed gum, as do many people. At first, she was chewing through a pack or two a day, and slowly but surely, she cut back.
Take your time
The image of a new you can be a great catalyst to get you going, but that motivator can be a double-edged blade. Wanting to improve yourself is great, but it can overwhelm you if you take on too much. There is no race to the finish line here. Instead, take your time and start small. Let yourself feel the small victories and let them motivate you into bigger ones. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” There is a process. While it may be slow going at times, it will be the process that will let you reach your goals and change your habits with a long-lasting effect.
To sum it up
We have tried to break a bad habit and have probably failed and succeeded at various rates. The key is knowing that lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you put in the work, then real change will happen eventually. Habits become a part of who you are, and breaking them is no easy feat. To build a plan, be mindful, and have some accountability. There is no finish line, so take a breath and take it slow and take it one habit change at a time.