Malankara World


Quitting Bad Habits

By Hayley Daniels-Lake

Quitting habits are something each of us continually strive to do, whether it's something small such as stopping biting our nails or something bigger such as quitting smoking.

The most important thing to remember is that when trying to stop a bad habit you need to be thinking that you never did it, not that you are quitting. The subconscious does not understand negative messages and our minds are programmed to build up habits, not to lose them; therefore, taking smoking as an example, if you think to yourself “I am stopping smoking” all your subconscious mind will hear is “I am smoking” therefore making it harder for you to kick the habit. Instead, you need to say to yourself that “I don't smoke”, this should also be your response when someone offers you a cigarette. By doing this you are continually reinforcing to your mind that you do not smoke. By doing this you are also giving yourself positive actions, instead of negative instructions to follow.

Similarly, when trying to break a bad habit focus on becoming a better person without the habit, when you try to quit a habit you will either succeed or fail. With this view a slip is seen as a knock to you personally, you have “failed” at quitting. Slips are going to happen occasionally, and it is important to recognize that. By aiming to become a better person, without the habit, you can only succeed, by focusing on that every action is a step towards becoming a better person and a slip is just that – a slip, something to be learned from. What caused it? What can you do to help yourself avoid that situation next time? With this view there is no failure, only success. An added benefit of thinking like this is that you are not focusing on the thing you are trying to change, you are instead focused on a more positive action. Keeping with the idea of trying to quit smoking if you are focused on “quitting smoking” then smoking is the main thing you are thinking about! If you are instead focused on being a better person then smoking need never even enter your mind.

So, how do we actually go about quitting a habit?

Quitting something is hard if there's nothing to replace it with. Your old habit took up a large part of your time and therefore you will have time (and often money) spare. Use that time to either take up a new hobby or spend more time on something you already enjoy. This has added benefits because sometimes, by taking up a new hobby or activity you simply aren't able to engage in your old one.

Habits often take up a lot of our money too, use that money to reward yourself every week you achieve your goal. By combining this with a positive thought process such as those described above you are telling yourself that not only are you not losing anything, but you are also gaining something that you were unable to have before.

Humans are programmed to focus on our achievements. Rewards are great, but achievements mean even more to us in general. By trying to focus on becoming a better person as opposed to quitting a habit, there are plenty of achievements we can focus on. Try and keep a note of these and go over them every so often to remind yourself of how far you have come and how much you have actually achieved.

See Also:

4 Tips to Staying Motivated in the Midst of Failure
Know this: everyone fails from time to time but failure is not the end of the line unless you allow it to be.

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