10 Great Ways To Break Old, Bad, Or Poor Habits Before They Mentally Break You
Some old, bad, or poor habits may seem good, make you feel great, and sometimes make you feel smarter, but are, or do they?
Bad habits –
· Can interrupt your life and cause emotional or physical pain
· Negatively risk your mental and physical health
· Jeopardize your freedom
· Make you emotionally unstable
· Prevent you from achieving your goals
· Waste your time, energy, and money
· Scatter relationships and leave you lonely
· Can set you back and leave you stagnated
So, why do people still indulge in detrimental habits and find it hard to break them?
We all have our weaknesses or challenges. Some old, bad, or poor habits may be learned while others may become addictive. Some of the acts we unknowingly do may be because of our social circle, and others may be because we lack the self-control and discipline to break free. Whether you are addicted to alcohol, smoking, drugs, or another dangerous or negative habit or simple things like overeating, being mean and nasty to people, oversleeping, or refusing to love and care for yourself and others, it is time to effectively manage or do away with them now.
How Long Does It Take To Break A Bad Habit?
Various reports, proven, scientifically supported, and time-bound studies have attempted to answer this question. While they are all different, let’s look at some of them.
The answer to duration depends on various factors:
· The individual
· The poor habit
· The willingness to want to change
· Access to therapy or professional counseling and support
However, over the years, several studies peg breaking free from bad habits at:
Yes, the plastic surgeon turned psychologist, Maltz, pegged this as the number of days to break a habit. His reasoning was based on how long it took a patient to accept their look after reconstructive surgery. While it sounds good, some habits are deeply seated and are not easily discarded.
In 2009, a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology had a different view after examining how long it takes to modify a habit. The test subjects were linked to several bad habits, including drinking, eating, and exercising. The results set the time between 18 to 254 days with an average of 66 days.
In 2012, another group of psychologists put the studies to the test and found that it took 12 weeks or two and a half months. The research discovered that it was significant for the individual to develop and maintain a new habit to break away from or form an old one. Secondly, while consistency is fundamental for success, skipping days will not necessarily affect the long-term result.
10 Great Ways To Break A Bad Habit
1. Stay self-aware: This is a state beyond being conscious of yourself or your surroundings. It is attaining a sense of qualia. Qualia are characteristics that qualify the state of your mental experience, including your feelings, desires, and motives. It is also the ability to distinguish between good and bad habits. When you understand your qualia state, it is easy to deal with mental defeat and challenges, thereby breaking bad habits.
2. Acknowledge your weaknesses and triggers: Breaking bad habits is a mammoth task; however, admitting one’s challenges is a problem half-solved. Additionally, your ability to work on those areas for improvement heavily depends on the former and what triggers it. For example, if you are trying to eat healthy, having a meeting in or around an eatery is a terrible idea. So, avoiding, learning to manage your thoughts and actions, and replacing your old and poor habits with positive and productive activities while taking small steps to build up self-control and discipline can be a start to dealing with your challenges, weaknesses, and triggers.
3. Mind your social circle: Bad habits can be learned from friends and other external influences that do not add value to your life. Your social associations can make or mar you; hence, minding one’s social affiliations is crucial to breaking bad habits and taking up positive ones. You are or may become like the folks you hang around. So, if you hang around wise, logical, positive, and productive people long enough, then you may stand a better chance of behaving like them. The opposite rings true as well. If you hang around ignorant, toxic, dysfunctional, and lazy folks who have issues with overconsuming alcoholic beverages or using illegal substances, then you may eventually begin to behave like them.
4. Get a proven, effective, and trusted role model or mentor: There may always be a child in all of us. And like children, there may always be someone to look up to, hoping to be like them. Whether you can study positive influences or not, look for inspirational role models or mentors that can impact your life positively. This way, it is easy to desire and act for change and growth as you journey ahead.
5. Catch and redeem yourself when you notice yourself slipping up: There will be successes and failures as you work toward breaking free of old, bad, or poor habits. However, it is imperative that you are aware (qualia) so that you can redeem yourself when you start to slip away. For example, if you are trying to break an alcohol addiction, avoiding bars or public drinking areas is a good idea, but chances are you will visit such places. If you are in such environments, increase your preparedness level to defeat the thoughts and manage your actions. Remember not to beat yourself up and give in or up altogether if you slip up. No one is perfect and even the greats have stumbled, got back up, and kept going in a consistent, positive, and healthy direction.
6. Replace old, bad, or poor habits with good or healthy ones: This is straightforward. Instead of laying on the couch daily, even if you are in between jobs, take walks or get involved in gainful activities that keep you busy. Instead of wasting your time with folks who do nothing, stay away, build your life, and help them afterward if you choose. The simple fact is that there is something to swap with an old, bad, or poor habit, and you must be willing and determined to slay the beasts that threaten your start, progress, stability, and growth.
7. Develop and maintain: It can be difficult to break old, bad, or poor habits, but it is doable and has been done. If you are ready, set aside time to ensure the change occurs. Remember, it will not happen overnight, but it can in 21 days, 10 weeks, or more with a properly developed and maintained plan. Any habit that makes you unhealthy, unhappy, unfulfilled, unproductive, mentally weak, aggressive, and/or violent, and/or leaves you broke and later questioning your choices is also bad. Maintain consistency while working on physical, mental, and emotional habits. It is possible for some people to get sick and tired of being sick and tired; meaning that they get fed up with the poor or negative outcome of their old, bad, or poor habits and decide to finally do something about them to do away with them for good.
8. Be accountable and get an accountability partner: No one indulges in old, bad, or poor habits alone; you may have “supportive” or condoning parties that encourage or partake in it. In the same way, if you are to break old and poor habits, you must be accountable and have an accountability partner. People who account for their actions or report them to someone that can help them be accountable may have better chances of success than those who do not.
9. Get therapy or professional counseling: This suggestion may sound like a broken record to some people, but do not discount solution-focused and behavioral therapy or counseling. It can be tough adjusting to several changes over a limited period, especially with deep-seated and long-term habits. While starting small is always encouraging, getting help can help you tackle mental defeat and discouragement and remain consistent. This may be why you need a counselor. Remember that no old, bad, or poor habit is too complicated to break; a counselor can help you break simple old or poor habits like staying up late or abusing drugs.
10. Reward yourself: And by reward, we don’t mean going back to triggers or circumstances that can derail your success. For example, going for a drink after one month of successful sobriety is not the way to go. Go for a healthy drink like a fruit or vegetable smoothie or keep yourself hydrated and healthy with enough water.
Finally, the road to change and maintenance won’t be smooth and jolly. It may be hard and threaten to break you, but for the better. So, before an old, bad habit, or poor habit breaks you, take control and kick it out of your life. Furthermore, do not fight your ability to succeed. When the going gets tough, say something positive to yourself.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Phillippa Lally et-al (2009) – How are habits formed: modeling habits formation in the real world. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world - Lally - 2010 - European Journal of Social Psychology - Wiley Online Library
Benjamin Gardner et-al (2012) – Making health habits Habitual: The psychology of habit-formation and general practice. Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice - PMC (nih.gov)