Habits are the behavior that we manifest in repetition brought by constant practice. These habits can be either good like habitually praying before sleeping and brushing your teeth every after meals or it could be bad like nail-biting and smoking cigarettes. Habits, in general, are difficult to change as they become hard-wired to our human system. The brain wires these habits in our routine to the point that we do them subconsciously unless noticed by other people. Simply to say that our 24 hours in a day is composed of the culmination of different habits which eventually encrypted in our daily life. As I see it, both good and bad habits are difficult to break as it already takes the auto-pilot mode of our system.
We wouldn’t want to lose our good habits, only to improve on them, however, we sometimes need to get rid of our bad habits for us to create more room for the good ones. So how do we break those bad habits? Here are some of the steps that might be helpful if you have decided to break a few or two bad habits.
First, you need to accept that you have bad habits that need breaking. Awareness is one thing but accepting what you have found out, no matter how bad it is, is already winning half of the battle. Acceptance of the bad habit is easier said than done because of the pride and the awkward feeling of breaking it when you’re doing it every day of your life. Some people do get difficulties in adapting small life changes such as a fixed waking time – then what more if it is a big change like quitting a vice?
Identify the habit you want to break and be specific as much as possible. For example, “the habit of smoking” is too vague to break. You need to specify it to move to the next step. A specific identification for this could be, “the habit of smoking 10 sticks per day”. Another example would be, “the habit of staying up until 3 AM because of watching TV series” is a specific identification rather than just saying, “the habit of staying up too late or past your bedtime”.
THINK WITH THE END GOAL IN MIND
If you want to break that bad habit, you have to ensure its effectivity. Effectivity of anything will always start with your goal-setting. Now that you have accepted and identified the bad habits you want to break, you can now set the objectives of why should you break those habits. Please take note that you can do this one habit at a time, there is no rush at all. Rushing this may result in withdrawal (for vices) and yo-yo effect or ricochet (for other habits). Here, you can list down the advantages and disadvantages of breaking the bad habit especially if the habit is linked with pleasures or anxiety reasons. Identifying and deciding on the goal/s will be a great help in your journey to break those bad habits you initially thought about.
Commit to the changes and that you have fully decided on breaking the habit. Commitment is as important as Acceptance because once you have committed to subject yourself to change, then the acceptance of the bad habit becomes relevant and easier to tackle. Commitment should start from you and not from a friend in the form of a dare because this can lead to a hollow start and it eventually lose importance along the way. Having a strong commitment would help you be grounded and always reminded of why you started especially in times of struggle of breaking the bad habit.
One of my mentors taught me that since we can never control time, we just need to properly manage it. In a nutshell, everything should have a schedule. As mentioned earlier, habits form over repetitive time and brought by practice hence, for you to break the bad habit, you need to replace or modify it. This can start with practice and repetition until it becomes a habit itself. Schedule the changes and you need to stand by your commitment. It is important to set a schedule and a time for the new habit. Failing to schedule and not prioritizing it means it has a higher chance of not happening at all. Breaking a bad habit is a process and it may take time depending on the frequency of the changes you would want to incur. Well, I highly suggest that you take a gradual change rather than have it drastically and would regret even doing it in the first place.
An example would be, limiting the TV series watching up until midnight. This would already give you three more hours for sleep instead of watching. Another would be instead of smoking 10 sticks per day, you can allow yourself to smoke 7 sticks per day, then it could be lessened to 3 sticks per day, up until you can manage it smoke 10 sticks per week. From there, you can now trim it down to less and fewer sticks or hours of watching until you see no more importance of spending too much time in binge-watching TV series and killing your lungs with cigarettes.
While it is true that you need to commit from within, it is of high importance that you seek support from friends who are rooting for your change. In this way, the external forces of pulling you back to the bad habits can be prevented or completely avoided if you have a good support group. The support group is not limited to your family and friends – they can be from your workplace!
Since you decided to break the bad habit and you committed to doing it, you become mindful and conscious of the changes in your lifestyle. The effects of the changes can be measured through the extra hours you got to do more of either working or spending it with family. You can also check the effectivity of it through your health status if you are no longer susceptible to cough and viral diseases since you completely quit smoking.
Breaking bad habits can be possible if you have placed your mind and heart on it. Surprisingly, nowadays we do not know that what we are doing is already causing harmful effects on our bodies and it all rooted in those bad habits such as spending too much time scrolling your Facebook and other social media platforms and/ or stress eating. Whatever you may have as a bad habit, you can always break it by following these steps and I can only wish you good luck in your journey to becoming a new person!
May the force be with you!
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