I know I’m over simplifying, but there are basically two types of habits, good habits and bad habits. A habit is a process or pattern of behavior that we have adopted. Habits are meant to make life easier. We dont have to stop and think. We just do. When I get up in the morning I head straight for the bathroom followed by a walk to the coffee pot. I never have to stop and think about it. It just happens. This makes my mornings simpler.
Bad habits on the other hand are usually developed as a result of stress and boredom. These habits can be as simple as biting your nails or tapping your foot. It could be automatically reaching for a cigarette or vape when you don’t know what to do next or grabbing a beer or a drink as soon as you get home before you deal with the stress of the spouse or the kids. Maybe you roll one or grab some gummies to take the edge off. Or a common habit today is to grab a tablet or go to the computer to watch porn before you go to bed or as soon as you get up because you feel lonely or misunderstood.
I cant remember where I heard it but someone said, ”In order to break a habit you have to make a habit.” Breaking a bad habit and making a new one takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight.
If you’ve ever tried to break a habit you’ve probably discovered that just stopping doesn’t work. Here are a few steps you can take on the road to developing your new habit. First, is there a specific emotion, stress or need that you are trying to avoid with the bad habit you have developed? I tool I have found helpful is a daily check in or writing notes to myself. Some people call this journaling but I’ve never liked journaling so I write notes to myself. (It’s the same thing but don’t tell me that)
I ask myself the following questions,
What am I feeling?
What am I thinking?
What am I doing?
What am I thinking about doing?
I got these questions from an organization called the Samson Society. These questions help me identify the triggers for my behavior and habits. All of my habits are there for a reason. I use them to help me deal with something. Knowing what that something is opens the door for change.
Choose a new habit. Remember, to break a habit you have to make a habit. Let’s say when you feel stressed you reach for a cigarette. What’s a good alternative? A tool I recently began using is breathing exercises. The first time someone suggested it I thought, that sounds stupid. But what could it hurt to give it a try? I downloaded a free app to my phone and committed to doing the exercises for a week. In the beginning it felt useless but as I continued to do the exercise I discovered that it really did help me to feel less stress! Don’t try it once and declare it a failure. Make a commitment to a specific amount of time.
Eliminate as many triggers and opportunities for failure as possible. If you can’t be around people that are drinking without drinking yourself, don’t go to the bar. An easy way to break bad habits is by avoiding the things that cause you to do them.
Don’t do it alone. No one succeeds in isolation or in private. Find a friend that is working to break the same habit or has already beaten it. You need accountability and encouragement. When I have a load that’s too heavy to carry alone having a friend with me and mean the difference between success and failure.