Do you have a bad habit? A habit you hate? You want to eliminate it, but it seems, no matter what you do, the habit sticks with you? Did you experience the frustration that comes with being stuck with a bad habit? Explore the reason why your habit sticks and try this no. 1 secret to saying goodbye to your bad habit, once for all.
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The nature of bad habits
Habits are things we regularly do subconsciously. When we do something repeatedly – like biting our nails instead of trimming them – a bad habit comes into being. It influences our lives in a negative manner.
For example sleeping in makes us late for work. Eating junk food makes us fat. Smoking gives us cancer.
I could show so many other examples, but chances are good that you know the habits and their influences already.
So, where do the bad habits come from?
Why do we do it, when we know it is not good for us?
Bad habits are based on feelings. We do what we do of two reasons. Either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain; in most cases it is a combination of both.
If we love the taste of chocolate, for example, then we eat it in order to feel the pleasure. Sometimes, we reach for the chocolate out of frustration or other negative feelings; we want to avoid the pain and distract ourselves with the pleasure of eating chocolate.
Bad habits are literally allowing our emotions to rule us. We give the emotion the power to guide us. Our feelings take the control from us.
We know it is not good, but we all still do it, because it feels good.
Our emotions are stronger than our conscious mind.
The desire to change
The switch comes when we become deeply aware of the negativity behind the bad habit.
I can see three issues with bad habits.
- The obviously unfavorable influence a bad habit has on our life.
- The fact that it is just a distraction from negative feelings.
- The control we give up, letting our feelings take over.
The desire to change starts when you focus on all the negative issues bad habits have, rather than the pleasure they might give you.
This might create a conflict in your mind, a conflict between pleasure and pain.
- You want to change because you made yourself conscious of the pain bad habits brings.
- You don’t want to change because you know and feel the pleasure that habit gives you.
- You don’t want to change because you want to release (distract) yourself from other negative feelings.
What shall we do?
The desire to change is there, but bad habits are too strong.
When you read this blog post, then chances are high that you experienced this conflict. You may also have experienced the point where you’ve had it. It’s enough!
This is a point where we take a decision.
“I need to stop it!”
We have momentum and our mind is stronger than our feelings. We are sure that we can do it.
Unfortunately, momentum, like any other feeling, is temporary. We all have had bad days, when we backslide. It is hard to resist the bad habit in these moments because we feel the need to be distracted from our distress.
This is a natural loop.
Fortunately, there is one simple secret that can help you out of this loop.
The secret to change
While you have the momentum, you need to make a decision and set your terms immediately. You want to turn your desire into a must. Why?
Two Tony Robbins quotes put the reason in a nutshell.
“We don’t get what we want, we get what we have to have.” – Tony Robbins
“If you can’t, you must. If you must, you can.” – Tony Robbins
How can you turn your desire into a must?
I will now give you the step-by-step instructions that helped me to transform all of my habits. All four steps are critical and key elements to quit bad habits for good.
Once you feel motivated to change your bad habit, write out a contract for yourself. This helps you stay committed and accountable.
“I, (Full Name), commit myself to not longer supporting my sugar addiction by not eating sweets for a full year.”
Determine what is and what isn’t allowed. Lay down rules and write them down.
- I will not eat any kind of chocolate.
- I will not eat any other sweets.
- I will not eat biscuits.
- I will not eat cake.
- I will not eat ice cream.
- I will not eat any desserts.
- I will not eat processed sweet or savory snacks
- Exception: When I am on holiday, then I allow myself ice cream (no chocolate chips, but fruit ice cream).
You can add exceptions, if you want. They are allowed. It depends on how hard you want to play this game. The important part is to write all exceptions down when you write up your rules. Do not make up exceptions later (this allows you to break your rules and will ruin your efforts), but state clearly that you have rules you will follow.
THE NO. 1 SECRET – Step 03
Add massive pain to the case when you NOT follow through.
That means, if you break the rules, than you need to do something that is more painful than going through the initial difficulties that occur when changing bad habits. It needs to be something that you know is not worth it.
How can you do this?
Share your endeavor with a friend and give your friend a huge amount of money. It needs to be an amount that if you give it away, is painful for you. That number is different for everyone. It could be one thousand dollars, for example. Tell your friend to keep the money safe and make an agreement with him. If you do follow trough, your friend gives you the money back. If you do not follow through, you allow your friend to spend the money for himself.
Make an accountability statement and put it where you can see it every day.
“If I do not follow through, then I am going to lose x amount of money. Do I really want that?”
If money does not have any meaning to you, then this might not be the best approach for you. You know yourself better than anyone else. Try to find something that is painful for you and phrase an accountability statement based on that.
Be true to yourself. If you are not true to yourself, then no promise will help. That means, if you break the rules, then abide by your promise. Make the pain real for you and feel it deeply.
If your accountability statement is strong enough, the chances are high that you will not break the rules.
Tip: If you share your promise with other people, than you will have even more commitment to follow through, because your friends will help hold you accountable.
Bad habits are driven by emotions until we decide to take control. Unfortunately, the desire to change is often not enough, on its own, to overcome the habit. The key element to taking back the control is to turn the want into a must by making a solid commitment to ourselves.
This is my way to overcoming bad habits and it works for me. Try it for yourself and let me know your results. I am keen to hear how you are doing.
Share your decisions, statements and rules by writing a comment below and hold yourself even more accountable.