How To Finally Break Your Bad Habits
Bad habits, we all have them each one unique to you, your little quirks and what we can often get stuck in the belief of that’s just who you are.
I hear things like
‘I just can’t stop eating chocolate I can’t help myself’’
‘I’m always late for things, that’s just who I am’
‘I can’t commit to workouts, I’m just too lazy’
‘I don’t mean to snap but things just annoy me’
We think it’s the habit that controls us. Whether it’s ‘just’ the habit of turning to foods that you know aren’t helping you towards your goal, or it’s the habit of procrastination that’s stopping you from reaching the heights that you desire in your career, or your inability to trust people enough to open up and develop deeper relationships.
It’s that thing that makes you say
‘I get so mad at myself when i………….’ or ‘why can’t I stop doing………’
We all have them, you probably identify really closely with that habit and how it’s part of you, but that simply isn’t true.
A habit (good or bad) is simply a learned behaviour. It’s something that you developed (usually during childhood) because at one point, during something that happened, that behaviour served you. It benefited you in some way, it helped you achieve an outcome you desired.
Over time we come to learn that these behaviours that once helped you, like procrastination because it relieves you of the stress and pressure you are feeling, or the chocolate, because it felt good in the moment as that sweetness on your lips made everything ok again, or saying yes to people to just keep the peace of making life easier when you really wanted to say no.
It’s that quick hit of dopamine, that feel-good feeling that we all crave.
But then once the dopamine hit wears off, and you are back to feeling mad and frustrated with yourself. You actually realise that this habit is consistently robbing you from feeling real joy, happiness the results that you really want for your life.
So how do we work on overcoming and actually breaking bad habits?
The great things about habits or learned behaviour is that they can also be changed. I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy, because it’s not, these old habits will try their best to creep back in, they are sneaky like that. But with these strategies I’m going to introduce to you today, you can use them to start breaking them and fighting back, one habit at a time.
The first step is always awareness!!!
So what are your bad habits????
If you could identify what has been holding you back, what would they be???
List out all of the things that you do, that you really know aren’t helping you move towards your dreams and goals.
It may be one thing, or maybe you have a few. List out as many as you can think of.
These bad habits can usually come from one of four categories according to Brendon Burchard.
1. Desire to protect ourselves e.g not speaking up for yourself because that feels like you are protecting yourself. Or not going and doing the thing you really want to be doing because it feels scary, so it’s best to stay here safe in your comfort zone.
2. To pacify or soothe a negative feeling – e.g you feel uncertain, unsure or stressed so I know I’ll eat, or check-in on social media, you feel insecure and so you seek approval from other people.
3. People Pleasing e.g letting people walk all over you so that you can make them feel good rather than prioritising yourself.
4. Proving ourselves e.g arguing and getting mad at people because the ego says how dare you treat me that way!
Does this help you to identify some of the bad habits that you may have??
Once you become aware of them, you can make the decision that you are going to break them.
Often when we think of breaking a bad habit we think about having to remove the trigger. A common one when we come to look at losing weight is to…… get all of the crap out of your cupboards, because if it’s there you are going to eat it.
And this can be a good strategy for helping you to not have to rely on your ‘willpower’ alone in the initial stages. But for the long term we need to look at alternatives. Because in life there are always going to be situations when you are faced with foods or situations that won’t help you towards your body goals.
To truly break a bad habit you have to practice facing it, and being able to choose something different.
For instance, I’m feeling pretty darn proud of myself right now as I bought a bar of chocolate over the weekend. And it’s still sitting in my fridge untouched!!!! I know!!! Even I am amazed.
That may seem like nothing to you. But I am an eater, I love sweet things, chocolates, crisps, all of the good stuff, and it’s in, normally I’ll eat it.
But I have been working on breaking the habit of eating all of the things in one go.
So it’s often my go-to in the afternoons, when I have been sitting on my computer for hours, my brain is tired and my body is starting to flag but I know there are things that I still want to finish off and I feel a little antsy about it all. I go to the cupboard and I eat sweet stuff.
I do it to have a break mentally and I do it to soothe.
So instead of just having everything out of the house, instead I catch that awareness of the feeling rising up. I have been going and actually looking at the food, staring it in the face and instead of that uncontrollable stuff in my face.
What am I feeling?
Why do I feel this way?
What else could I do that would actually soothe me and in a way that I will feel good about that decision in an hour, in another week when I am a step closer to where I want to be.
You don’t break the habit by avoiding the situation that causes it.
You break the habit when you stand up and face it. Empowering yourself by choosing something different, something better and building your confidence in knowing that you indeed are the one that is in control of your habits and which ones you want to break.
I have done this same action with my habit of procrastination too.
While you won’t always succeed every time. Sometimes you won’t always make the best decision, that’s called being human congratulations, you are not a robot!!!!
BUT if you create intention and you make more GOOD decisions than you do not so great ones.
Well, then that is when you make progress towards your goals.
Think about how this applies to you and your goals. Look across all areas of your life, with your health, with your career, with your relationships, with your self-development. Create clarity on the habit and then start practising facing up to it and overcoming it.
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