5 Working Techniques to Break a Bad Habit

David - About Lifestyle - July 14, 2020

Want it or not, you've got bad habits. And even though you know that, you aren't making anything to break these. Relax, we all do. It's called cognitive dissonance.

It implies that, even though we know we're doing something wrong, we aren't taking any action to change. And that is because we've created self-justifications to deny the negative impact these bad habits have on our lives.

In this article, I'll give you several powerful techniques to break a bad habit once and for all, along with real-life examples to help you visualize the techniques better.

Be it smoking cigarettes, eating junk food, binge-watching series, or spending hours on your smartphone, I've got a solution for you.

Table of Contents
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Why Is It So Hard to Break a Bad Habit?

I bet you've miserably failed many times at breaking a bad habit. It's normal, we all do. How are we supposed to stop doing something we've been doing every day for months and years?

1. The longer, the worse: You don't have to be a smoker to understand that. If you've started smoking 3 days ago, I bet you can stop right after reading this article. But what if you've started smoking back when you were in high school? You got it. The longer you fed you bad habit, the harder it is to break it. It's become part of your routine, and either you replace it, or you remove it and feel empty.

2. It's not a black-or-white matter: If you've been eating junk food for years, there's virtually no way you could stop overnight. Your body and your mind are used to eating a specific kind of food, so you've got to mix junk with healthy food until you end up eating only what's good for you. You can't break a bad habit overnight. If you've fed it for years, you must acknowledge that it will require time to break.

3. It's not rational: Take smoking for instance. You might see disgusting pictures of black lungs while smoking, yet you wouldn't stop. No matter how much you want to break this bad habit, there are chemical reactions you can't really fight against. Be it nicotine, sugar, or endorphins, there are drugs you can't deprive yourself of. By consequence, making the decision to stop isn't enough. You have to go step by step, and make small efforts daily until drugs stop having an effect on you.

These are only a few of the reasons that explain why breaking a habit requires more than plain determination.

Let's see how to effectively break a bad habit.

5 Working Techniques to Break a Bad Habit - Illustration - Picture

5 Working Techniques to Break Bad a Habit

There are many psychological tricks you can use to break a bad habit. This is what we'll explore here.

1. Put obstacles between you and your bad habit: The act of repeatedly struggling to maintain your bad habit will trigger a negative feedback loop. By consequence, the more you struggle to reach it, the less likely you are to do it. And that is because you'll mentally associate your bad habit with a negative experience. For instance, you could set a very long password on your phone to keep you from over-using it, or change its display language so you never feel comfortable using it for anything but primary needs like calling.

2. Keep your routine ever-changing: Whether they're good or bad, habits stem from a routine. If you successfully manage to break your daily routine, you'll be more likely to break your bad habit. For instance, to stop eating junk food you could change your itinerary to make sure you never drive by a fast-food chain. You could also change your phone's icons' order so you start to forget your fingers' muscle memory.

3. Go step by step: Like I said before, you just can't erase months and years of practicing a bad habit in the blink of an eye. If you want to stop smoking for instance, you have to progressively diminish the number of cigarettes you smoke daily. The same goes for junk food. You could prepare healthy meals for 2 days of the week, then 3, then 4, and so on until you end up eating healthy all week long. Yet you must remember that you can't go from 1 to 0 instantly. You need time, incremental steps, and small short-term goals to keep you motivated.

4. Keep a record of your progress: How well did you perform over time? It is crucial that you keep a record of your work, your efforts, and all the incremental steps you've made . This will help you determine how far you are from your goals, and how quick you've been at getting rid of your bad habit. Grab a pen and paper, and write down your weekly achievements.

5. Associate your bad habit with a good one that will finally replace it: Bad habits obey the classical conditioning principle. Whenever your stimulus occurs, you react. And what's so powerful about that is, you can associate your bad habit with a good one. Let's say you smoke three cigarettes per day, and you have a lovely partner. Just send an instant message to your partner whenever you smoke. Then buy a present each time. Your bad habit will become the stimulus for the good one. Eventually, you can trade one for the other.

5 Working Techniques to Break a Bad Habit - Illustration - Picture

Backstory: Breaking the Instagram Addiction

Until recently, my brother in law used to spend countless hours on Instagram every day. We started talking, and it went like that.

-- David tell me, how do you manage to keep from using Instagram daily?

-- Look, why don't you just uninstall this app?

-- They could help me out.

-- Then why don't you unfollow everyone so you keep the app only for what matters most?

-- I can't do that, I love this app.

I grabbed his phone and put a password on Instagram to make sure he wouldn't use it any longer. He laughed, and we stopped talking about that.

A week later, I asked him how life was without his favorite app. He grinned and told me he had found a way to bypass the password. But that was so annoying he only used the app once a day for nothing more than 10 minutes. The long password proved its worth.

5 Working Techniques to Break a Bad Habit - Illustration - Picture

What About You?

What's your bad habit? Have you ever tried to break it? What was your technique?

Let us know in the comments!

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