How To Eliminate Bad Habits With This Proven 4-Step Process
Ever wish you could change a bad habit in an instant?
Have you ever heard someone say: “If you wanted to change you would just change, just do it?”
And of course, you have the answer on the top of your tongue, “It’s not that easy. If it were, I would have done it by now.”
The question is: How do we even start and remove an unhealthy habit from our lifestyle? And how do we find the passion and drive to stay committed to quitting a bad habit?
Are bad habits really bad?
How many of the negative habits you have are a reaction to the stress or pressure you feel every day?
It’s pretty easy and normal to release stress eating, taking a nap, smoking, drinking, shopping, binge-watching Netflix, procrastinating…
The list is endless.
Stress is always there, present in our daily lives, and it’s causing us to react in unproductive and unhealthy ways.
The bad habits we create are our coping mechanisms to the stresses we have cultivated in our lives.
In one way or another, these habits are there because our mind interpreters them as something good and that they are rewarding us with a good feeling.
Why we stick to bad habits – The habit loop
Our brains build neural pathways of any repeated emotion, thought, or action so that we can be more efficient.
The habit loop looks like this:
▪️ Your brain gets cued.
Cues can be anything such as a place, a time of the day, a situation of stress, or even an emotional need.
When your brain gets cued, it goes into autopilot mode that can be either mental or physical.
▪️ The cravings happen.
This situation you go through ( the cue) triggers a craving.
You follow and repeat the same set of patterns, think the same type of thing, or do the same actions.
▪️ You respond to the craving.
The response you have is the actual habit ( bad habit) you want to change in your life.
▪️ You get rewarded.
Finally, this habit you have gives you a reward.
As you go about your life, your nervous system is continuously monitoring which actions satisfy your desires and gives you pleasure. It’s an endless game of instant gratification.
This reward is what makes the habit stronger and, consequently, difficult to break.
The first step to break a habit
“All behavior is driven by the desire to solve a problem. Sometimes the problem is that you notice something good and you want to obtain it. Sometimes the problem is that you are experiencing pain and you want to relieve it. Either way, the purpose of every habit is to solve the problems you face.“ – James Clear (Atomic Habits)
If you really want to break a habit in your life, you need to learn how to be intentional. Setting intentions, tracking your emotions, and the way you respond to them, is the most efficient way of getting rid of unwanted habits.
And what is the best way of tracking emotions if not by keeping a journal?
The good habit of journaling daily gives you the power to observe your own thoughts and how you react to them.
Your current habits were learned along the way and as surprising as it seems – They can be unlearned!
The 4-step process to break any habit
1. Make your habit invisible
While journaling you will get to understand what situations trigger you. Awareness is an important factor during all this process. For instance, if you have the habit of emotional eating every time you get frustrated, upset, or stressed you can stop buying those items you always eat in these situations.
Don’t keep candies or goodies around. Refrain yourself from buying junk food. Choose healthier in the supermarket. Be mindful of what you consume.
You become the product of the environment you live in.
2. Make your habit unattractive
▪️Remind yourself of all the bad aspects of that specific habit.
Reframe your mindset. Train your mind.
Repeat to yourself over and over all the bad consequences of having that habit.
▪️Find other commitments to overweight that habit.
If you have the habit of sleeping your weekend away when you are frustrated with something or someone, commit yourself to a group activity like hiking, running, or even some pottery class!
3. Make your habit difficult
The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming.
Want to quit a habit? Don’t make it attractive or easy.
Binge-watching Netflix is robbing you of the valuable time you could be up-leveling your skills to launch that online program?
Ask someone you live with to hide the tv remote somewhere for the day. Make the access to that thing inconvenient for you. Don’t have it easy around you.
4. Make the habit unsatisfying for you
Reward yourself for NOT doing it. Think about a bigger and more satisfying experience you could have IF you allow yourself to NOT do that habit.
After all, it’s the anticipation of a reward that makes us going into action.
So, are you gonna take a chance and see the change happening?