Face it, everybody has them. Even YOU. Bad habits that is. Everybody has one, two or more things in their life that they KNOW aren’t good for them, yet something inside of them causes them to continue. Your bad habit could be smoking or using other tobacco products. It could be drinking too much, shopping too much. Many people have bad habits that fly underneath the ‘radar of judgment’ such as constantly being negative or complaining a lot. And for millions of people their bad habits revolve around food and their health. Some people work too much, or are too involved in their techno products. Other people may take exercise to extremes, or have problems telling the truth. Constantly flirting or not being able to say no to others are also bad habits.
A bad habit is anything that you do on a continual, constant basis that you know is not good for you. For most people, bad habits start out innocently enough and become habits because over time people feel ‘comfortable,’ with them. Then not doing the bad habit, causes stress, or frustration. Eventually bad habits become addictions. It is estimated that in society today more than half of all people have addictions – that while they may not be outwardly ‘bad,’ they are detrimental nonetheless.
The key to anything in life is balance and control. If you are able to balance bad habits and can control them, chances are they won’t be so self-encompassing. However, few people are able to do this. Then, in order to make changes you have to learn how to break bad habits using a step-by-step process.
Experts say that it takes around 1 month to break any bad habit. Whether you are trying to stop biting your nails or give up nicotine, it isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. Getting started is perhaps the hardest part. Most often, habits become so much a subconscious part of your life that you do them without thinking. So breaking them is only possible if you begin to realize and be conscious of your bad habit. Even before you trying to kick a negative habit – you should spend a few weeks assessing just how powerful the habit is.
According to research, the brain receives around 11,000 signals per day, yet only actually processes around 40 per day. This means that the 10,960 other signals are done out of habit, without really thinking. To make any change, you have to remain in a state that is conscious of the things you want to change. In other words, raise your consciousness so you can truly see just how much you smoke or how negative you are. Begin to start the wheels of change by using your conscious mind as a sounding board so you can be accountable for your bad habits. Once you realize you have them, recognize them and rationalize them – you can start to take control of bad habits.
So first step is to recognize and be responsible for your habits. While you may want to totally transform yourself in 30 days by eliminating ALL of your bad habits – experts say this is not a good idea. Instead, try to focus on one habit at a time.
The next thing to do is to find a new habit to replace your old habit. Remember, your brain has been on autopilot for a while now, and changes won’t come over night. For instance if you are a smoker, you need to find a replacement habit that you can do instead of smoking. It can be something as simple as sing a song or snap your fingers every time you have the desire for a cigarette. This helps your brain to associate a new ‘habit’ for the old self-inhibiting habit. If you tend to over eat in the evenings and you want to stop doing this, try putting in a yoga CD instead to replace your other habit.
Make sure that your replacement habit is a good one, and something that you want to see yourself pursuing long term. It would be counter productive to create a replacement habit that is also negative. At first, the new habit will take thought and effort to enforce in your life, but eventually – it too will become part of your auto-pilot.
You should also tell people that you are in the process of making changes to your life. This way, not only are you accountable to yourself, but to others as well. Plus, the people in your life who love and care about you can be great supporters and become catapults to help you continue breaking your bad habit, especially on those days you want to regress.
It is also a good idea to keep a journal. Writing down your intentions and keeping track of your progress is a very concrete way to make changes in your life. Plus, it enables you to see how far you have come in 30 days. Make sure that you track your negative thoughts as well, and the feelings you were experiencing at the time so you can use them to rationalize your efforts for change.
Another key to breaking bad habits is to think positive. Look, it’s difficult to find something happy and positive when you are in the throws of withdrawal from your habit – but you MUST! Use a bait and switch form of thinking. Allow the negative thought to flow through your mind and then use an add-on. For instance. I hate not being able to eat chocolate BUT it will make me healthier in the long run. This way, you are allowing yourself to work through the emotions that are created when change occurs, but also are able to bring the positive aspect of your change to the forefront of your life.
Making changes is never easy. However, if you take an honest look at all of your bad habits, you will realize that YOU created them. They did not create themselves. This means that over time, and with effort – you can regain control of your negative habits and replace them with positive ones.