Bad habits are one of those problems that’s hard to get rid of in our life. They’re so powerful because they run on autopilot.
It seems like no matter how hard we try to resist and break our bad habits, we find ourselves losing much of the time.
Once a bad habits get going, it’s hard to stop them. Brute strength and will power just isn’t going to cut it.
But it is possible to stop the momentum of bad habits.
I’m going to show you how to break a bad habit with only 3 steps. Once you understand this, you will be on your way to completely controlling your life the way you want.
3 Steps to Break a Bad Habit
1. Study your bad habits
Every behavior has a purpose. When studying the bad habits, ask yourself what the payoff is.
What is the specific benefit you are getting? What kind of feelings do you get from doing the bad habit?
Be specific and clear.
For example, nail biting is a bad habit but you do them anyway. You do them because it takes away anxiety about social situations or uncertainty.
Now once you identified the benefit of the bad habits, you can then ask yourself:
What are some alternative ways to get those kinds of feelings? Or what are some other ways to get even better feelings?
You see, you can’t get rid of a bad habit unless you replace it with a better one. Because the bad habit gives you immediate pleasure, you need a new pleasure to replace the current one your bad habit is targeting.
Without that, a new bad habit will form to get that pleasure satisfaction.
So even if you got rid of nail biting but you haven’t addressed the anxiety, then a new habit such as neck scratching will take place. What we need is to replace the nail biting with something better – like breathing.
The pleasure substitute for the bad habit has to be immediate and not future focused.
Many times we try to break the habit by focusing on how it might affect our future. But since this is so far away, it’s not strong enough to deter us from our immediate pleasure.
2. Associate pain with bad habit, pleasure with new habit
The next step is to associate pain with the bad habit. This will lessen the power of the bad habit because we avoid things that give us pain and move towards pleasure.
What are the drawbacks of engaging in your bad habits? What are the bad side effects? Not only the present side effects but look at your future ones too?
You want to associate the bad habit with something really nasty, disgusting, and something you really, really hate. You don’t want to be around it or have anything to do with it.
For example, smoking is a bad habit that we wish to get rid of but have a hard time. Under hypnosis, it can be made so that the idea of smoking makes you feel nauseous.
It’s the same concept as if you were to meet a blind date and you are really excited. Then your friend tells you that this person is really weird, keeps creepy dolls as collection, eat boogers, and sleep in coffins. Suddenly, this image of the blind date becomes disgusting and all you want to do is avoid going.
Now that your image of your bad habit is associated with pain, we want to emphasize on the image of the new habit with pleasure.
So now this new habit becomes your coping mechanism for dealing with stress, anxiety, or other problems.
Instead of smoking, you replace smoking with chewing gum. Make this image of chewing gum the best, something delightful, and something you really, really love.
3. What’s triggering your bad habit?
Let’s go back to the beginning. You study your bad habit and find out the benefit of having it.
Now we are going nip the flower before it blooms.
Every habit, every behavior, has a trigger point.
When you find the little actions leading up to the triggered bad habit, you can avoid the triggers in the first place or find a way to diffuse it.
What causes you to think to engage in your bad habit?
Look back and see what the common situations are.
If your bad habit consist of nail biting, then find what happen before you begin to bite your nail. You’ll find that perhaps you feel anxious. You may think, “I don’t know what to do.”
This way, you can stop the bad habit before it starts.
But what if you still end up executing the bad habit? What then?
You can interrupt the pattern by doing something random. Just speak gibberish. Start singing a song. Flail your arms. Slap yourself. Do something unexpected and out of the blue.
This will distract your mind so that train of consciousness leading up to the bad habit get stopped. And then the mind forgets what it was doing.
Because if you just leave it be, it’ll keep on going its course and execute the bad habit.
But once you start distracting the mind, you interrupt the pattern. Your mind gets confused. And then you stop performing the bad habit.
Break the Bad Habit the Right Way
Many people see is that they want to break a bad habit. So they use will power to make them disappear.
When it doesn’t work, they feel bad and think they don’t have what it takes. So they give up and let their bad habits win.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You know better now.
Study your bad habit and find out what the current payoff is. Find an alternative or a better payoff. Then associate the pain with the bad habit and associate pleasure with the new habit. Figure out the trigger and avoid the fight in the first place.
And if the bad habit still get the best of you, distract the mind to confuse it when you feel like you are about to execute the bad habit.
Do this consistently to break the bad habit. You’ll get greater confidence and finally feel like you have control over your habits. This is your victory over bad habits.