Most people have bad habits. For some, it’s overeating. For others, it is spending too long on social media and not enough time working.
The horrible thing about habits is that we know that we need to break them, but for some reason, we can’t. They work against our long-term interests, and yet we indulge in them anyway. It is tragic.
Fortunately, psychology sheds some light on the things that we can do to fight back and gain a bit more control over our lives. Here are some of the things that you can try.
Identify The Underlying Cause Of Your Habit
People don’t usually eat mountains of junk food, smoke packets of cigarettes or procrastinate on social media for no reason. Often, it is because there is some underlying factor, driving them to do it.
The trick is to identify what that actually is.
A lot of people will reach for harmful behavior when they’re feeling sad or down. A quick dopamine hit is usually all it takes to dull the pain a little. Eating a bag of Doritos can help in your hour of need.
But, these behaviors aren’t free. Eventually, you pay the price in terms of your health.
Where possible, be introspective. If you feel negative emotions arriving, think carefully about what led to them. Try to nip problems in the bud before they result in emotional response.
Train Your Mind
Most people don’t get rid of old habits by abandoning them entirely. Instead, they replace them with new ones. That might sound like an exercise in futility, but it works. If you find yourself with the munchies in the evening, the solution isn’t to tough it out with nothing but a glass of water. Instead, it is to eat healthy snacks and get into the habit of doing that instead.
Training your mind to alter your underlying attitudes towards yourself is also becoming easier. With things like hypnosis downloads and online mind training, you can consciously create the brain circuits that defend against dysfunctional behaviors.
Get A Buddy
Changing a habit isn’t always easy. But if you can do it with a friend, it can help a lot, especially when it comes to exercise.
Allow For Slips
Very few people partake in a bad habit for many years and then go cold-turkey overnight. Usually, it is a process that takes a lot of time and energy. Wrenching your mind to a better place isn’t just something you “decide.” You have to work at it too.
Allowing for slips is essential. Here you permit yourself to fail without assuming that the entire project is futile. Just because you munch a tub of ice cream once per month, doesn’t mean that you can’t eat well the rest of the time. You absolutely can.
It Takes Longer Than 28 Days
It takes a long time to break a bad habit. Behavioral scientists have tried to put a figure on it, but it is more a matter of degree. And for some people, the tendency never goes away. Give yourself the time you need to change. Prepare yourself for the long haul.