No one of us is perfect. No matter who you are, you must have at least one bad habit. However, breaking bad habits often seems difficult, whereas no one ever tries to break good habits. Obviously, good habits are desirable, while bad habits are not. This may appear to be a no brainer, but it’s just a bit of common sense if you analyze how any habit, good or bad, is formed.
Yes. Exactly. Symptoms are not habits.Source:
The idea that they are is what drives the Neuro-typicals to try to help us by telling us to just don’t be distracted, just don’t engage in perseveration, just don’t speak without thinking, grab without asking, do without considering consequences.
When either type of habit is cultivated, it becomes second nature after many repetitions. You don’t spend time thinking about brushing your teeth or hair, you simply do it. Both repetition and behavioral triggers are key. Given this premise, let’s take a look at five techniques you might use in breaking bad habits.
- Let’s say you’ve got a habit of letting your bad temper get the best of you and you’re quick to snap at family members and others. Most often, people with this habit don’t think before they speak. Just as parents give a recalcitrant child a ‘time-out’ to calm down, so you must modify your behavior so that when you’re ready to explode, you -impose a ‘time-out’ period for a little reflection. Removing yourself from the situation for just a few minutes is sometimes all you need.
- If your bad habit is one of indulgence, such as food, alcohol or smoking, it’s compulsive behavior triggered by situational factors. Breaking bad habits of this type require that you identify triggers that precede the indulgence. Carry a small journal to record events preceding the undesirable habit. Stressful conditions often precede this type of bad behavior. Other keys are pure and simple habit, such as the smoker who lights up with the first cup of coffee in the morning, or grabs a smoke to be able to concentrate better. Once you identify your triggers, you can take steps to actively avoid them. Recognition also empowers you in your efforts to break bad habits.
- When you know what prompts you to exercise your bad habit, replace each trigger with a countering behavior. Retrain your brain, breaking bad habits with a positive replacement behavior. For example, if you’ve had a stressful day, instead of reaching for the food, alcohol or smoke, do something different. You know stress leads to the bad habit. Go out for a short walk. Fresh air, a look around the scenery or a chat with your neighbor may be all the respite you need to resist your temptation. Over time, the new behavior replaces the old response.
- Join a forum or online message board dealing with your specific bad habit. There, you’ll meet people who know how you feel and can offer both the voice of experience and support.
- Join a community support group if you enjoy the social interaction. The benefits are similar to the online groups.
Good luck to you. You can succeed in breaking bad habits.