If you wish to improve your life and become a better person, start by replacing your bad habits to change them with good habits. Consistently, regularly.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a quality, but a habit.”Aristotle
How many times have you tried to break a bad habit? Several? Every January 1st? Every darn day?
I’ve tried many different ways to break my bad habits. But none of the conventional tips and tricks brought me lasting success.
We try the weirdest things to get rid of our bad habits. And we blindly believe every single person who gives us advice on the topic.
Questions to ask yourself:
- When did I start this habit? Was there a significant life event that may have contributed to starting?
- What emotion(s) am I feeling when I engage in this behavior? What do I feel before, during, and after the behavior?
- When do I engage in the behavior?
- Are there any common triggers for this behavior?
- Are there times when I engage in this behavior more?
- At what times do I engage in this behavior less?
Bad habits jeopardize your health — both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy. So, how can you delete your bad behaviors and stick to good ones instead?
I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but keep reading and I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to break a bad habit.
Why is it so hard to break a bad habit.
You can spend hours researching life hacks. However, if you don’t first understand the psychology driving habits, you’ll never see any real success. Our habits are driven by a 3-part loop in sequence…
- Trigger (the stimulus that starts the habit)
- Routine (the doing of the habit and behaviour itself)
- Reward (the benefit associated with the behaviour)
For example, let’s say you have the bad habit of eating chocolate cookies after your working hours. Your habit loop could look something like this…
- Trigger (stress from a long day of work)
- Routine (eat a chocolate cookie)
- Reward (temporary stress relief to feel better)
Each time you repeat this behavior pattern it becomes more ingrained in your brain until it eventually becomes automatic—a habit.
The reason why it can be so hard to break a bad habit, is because there are parts of your brain that associate your cravings with the bad habits.
Don’t give up yet, there’s still hope.
Habits power our lives and take time and effort to create. But with half our days controlled by them, it’s in our best interests to do everything we can to break our bad habits and fill our days with good ones.
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Here are the proven strategies to break your bad habits and change your life for the better.
STEP 1 – Understanding your mind
First of all, give yourself time and be patient and kind with yourself.
Your brain loves you. It always has. It loves to protect you, to keep you out of harm’s way and to keep you tucked in safely in your comfort zone.
Your brain would rather not get into a new activity, do something it’s never done, let alone STOP doing something it’s been doing for a long time.
It’ll be all like.. “What the heck is going on here? No, we have to get back to basics, to our safe spot. And that fast. “
It’s hard for your brain to stop a routine it’s become so good at.
All it really wants is for you to be alive, safe and sound.
Understanding how your brain works is key. Hopefully, it will help you to go head to head with your mind, pursue a new direction and learn to break FREE from your old ways.
It can be hard to talk your brain into starting something brand new. At least in the beginning. Put your brain on flight mode and on silent while you work on your new and improved you.
It’s the only way.
Quiet the chatter and go for it.
Accept the fact that your brain isn’t on your team right now. It will catch up later, I promise you. But for now, you’re flying solo with your new and awesome habit until your brain finally catches up to you and starts being a team player again.
STEP 2 – Practice being aware of your triggers
According to addiction expert, Judson Brewer, regular mindfulness practice could help you break a bad habit.
Better awareness of the triggers that cause bad habits has been shown to interrupt the existing feedback loop that keeps a bad habit in place.
For example, a four-week study reported by Brewer and his research team in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal, showed the positive impact of mindfulness training on breaking the bad habit of smoking. 
In this study, Brewer reported a 36% smoking quit rate compared to 15% through regular therapy.
Brewer suggests that mindfulness practice helps to weaken the link between the craving and the bad behaviour.
Next time you’re hit with an urge to do the bad habit, take a step back and be aware of the sensations of the trigger in your body.
Then, record your answers to the the following questions:
- Where were you when the craving showed up?
- At what point during the day does this happen?
- What is your emotional state?
- Who are you with?
- What happened before you felt this way?
Keep track of your progress for the days you act on the bad habit versus the days you don’t.
This kind of awareness practice will help you to begin to take control of your actions and make better decisions over the long term.
STEP 3 – Use the word “but” to overcome negative self–talk.
Whenever that happens, finish the sentence with “but”…
- “I’m fat and out of shape, but I could be in shape a few months from now.”
- “I’m stupid and nobody respects me, but I’m working to develop a valuable skill.”
- “I’m a failure, but everybody fails sometimes.”
STEP 4 – Make a 60-day goal.
That “21 days to develop a habit” theory you may have heard is probably wrong.
The theory was created by a plastic surgeon turned self-proclaimed psychologist who wrote a book called Pyscho-Cybernetics. (The book is the 1960s version of ‘The Secret.‘) There’s no hard scientific evidence to back the claim.
In fact, a study done by actual scientists suggests that it takes on average 66 days to form a habit. The number of days depends on the type of habit you’re trying to form. Easy things like drinking a glass of water in the morning took less time compared to hard things like daily exercise.
So give yourself 60 days to form your new habit. 2 months is a long time to stick with something, but you’re a badass – you’re up for the challenge! (positive self-talk is necessary!)
STEP 5 – Ask for Help
It can be hard to talk to other people about our bad habits, because we may feel embarrassed or even ashamed. But try and remember that there is not a single person in the world who is entirely free of bad habits.
Your real friends and family members will not think less of you because you share your struggles with them. They will think more of you, and will feel honored that you asked them to help you.
If you know another trader who shares your bad habits, brainstorm together to come up with ways you can change your habits. Consider enlisting the aid of another trader or a friend or family member as an accountability partner. Give them the power to stop your trading if you continue to engage in bad habits.
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STEP 6 – CREATE AN INCENTIVE
Sometimes we all need a little extra push, and incentivizing any goal provides just that!
An example of an incentivized goal would be, you want to work out five days a week, and as a reward, if you can keep this up for 90 days, you will reward yourself with a vacation to the beach.
Incentives don’t have to be crazy; they can be as little or as large as you would like!
Just be sure to choose something that gets you moving!
STEP 7 – Anticipate setbacks
Behavior change is hard. No one is immune from the occasional slip-up, so when this happens, don’t beat yourself up or retreat into negative self-talk.
Instead, make your habit loop bulletproof: anticipate and plan for setbacks. If you’re trying to stick to a diet, think through situations that might challenge your healthy eating habits such as fancy business dinners, traveling for work, or high-stress times.
Once you learn how to work within the psychology of habits, rather than against it, chances are you’ll find greater success in beating negative behaviors once and for all.
STEP 8 – Just do it, dammit!
It doesn’t matter how inspired or motivated we are, if we don’t take advantage of every opportunity to act on those sentiments, our goal of forming a habit will end in failure. The key to success is consistent action.
Personally, my biggest challenge is getting stuck in the “strong initiative” phase. Everybody loves the idea of turning over a new leaf; it’s easy to get excited about getting a fresh start and changing your life. Purging the house of junk, buying a new planner or self-help book is fun.
It’s when two weeks have gone by and the excitement wears off. The realization sinks in that forming this habit is going to take unglamorous work every damn day. It becomes a test of endurance.
The key is not to give up what you ultimately want, for what you feel in the moment.
Don’t let your brain tell you that your current discomfort will last indefinitely. It won’t. Eventually, you’ll have carved out that new pathway, things will become easier, almost automatic, and you’ll see how good it feels to get literally in the groove.
So, let’s quit the navel gazing, roll up our sleeves, and get to work on forging habits that will turn us into the men we want to be!
Where to go from here?
If you’re looking for the first step to breaking bad habits, I’d suggest starting with awareness.
It’s easy to get caught up in how you feel about your bad habits.
Here’s a simple way to start: just track how many times per day your bad habit happens. Put a piece of paper in your pocket and a pen. Each time your bad habit happens, mark it down on your paper. At the end of the day, count up all of the tally marks and see what your total is.
The Path To Freedom!
“The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.”Bryant McGill
The process of finally breaking free from your bad habits is a little bit like learning how to ride a bicycle.
There will be some days where you’ll climb on the bicycle and ride around easily.
There will also be days where you struggle to get on the bike and keep falling over and over again.
No matter how long it takes to fail and get back up again, your patience and perseverance will soon pay off.
And then, you’ll finally be free.
With Love & Inspiration,
– ON A SIDE NOTE –
As some of you may have noticed already, I’ve completely changed the look of my blog and even redesigned the logo for EclipsedWords. The site is currently under maintenance and hence, might appear different and work a bit slow and/or might have broken links. I’m working on getting this issue resolved ASAP. Also, I’m about to finish my eBook and plan to make it available for purchase by next month. Can you guess what my first eBook is about? Let me know in the comments below about your thoughts regarding the same.
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