You know the people who love to tease you about your bad habits?
They somehow get to you and you’re sick of it.
In your frustration, you snap back at them. But to no avail. They refuse to accept their shortcomings, and the fight goes on and on…
Let’s just say we don’t like to think about our weaknesses.
So, what can we do to shut up the naysayers and break free from our bad habits?
Well, you can begin by:
- Being kind to yourself
- Being more mindful
- Taking baby steps
A word of caution: this is not a quick-and-easy fix. These steps take time, effort and patience, but in my experience, they are the most effective.
But before we go any further, let’s take a minute or so to talk about our actions.
After all, most of us know that we must change a habit, but we don’t actually have the mental energy to do it.
Finding the motivation to change bad habits
When you want to change something, always ask yourself:
- Why do I want to change this habit?
- What do I want to replace it with (and why)?
Finding the why is so important because it drives us forward and propels us into action. It inspires us to draw a map on how we can best reach our destination. Without it, we get lost and our journey seems pointless.
Remember: the bigger the why, the easier the how.
If you don’t know why you want to change a habit, then it’s going to be ten times more difficult for you to break it.
Trust me. Take it from someone who knows…
Confessions of a (proud) chocoholic
I’m a chocoholic.
I know it’s a cliché but it can’t be helped. I can easily eat 220 grams in one sitting. Yeah, I know it’s disgusting and bad for me. But I don’t care.
Chocolate is so deeply rooted into my reward-motivated behaviour that it’s almost impossible to change. My dopamine levels soar high and I’m addicted. I’ve tried to stop, but I’ve failed. I love the taste of chocolate swimming around in my mouth, dancing on my taste buds like it was the summer of 1969.
Is there something bad about that? Maybe. But I’m going to eat chocolate anyway.
It’s my dirty little secret and I’m not planning on changing it any time soon.
But what about those bad habits?
Of course, my chocolate addiction could get out of hand. I could start eating chocolate every day, gain lots of weight, feel miserable, and want to kill myself. That’s bad and I’d have to see a professional and get myself a support network.
But before it gets to that stage (and let’s hope it doesn’t), here are the three most effective ways to break free from bad habits.
1. Be kind to yourself
Being kind to yourself is at the centre of what I teach here. Indeed, it is the most important lesson of all, and unfortunately we don’t practice it enough.
There’s only one you. Which is why you need to treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness. It’s not an easy practice, but it is a worthwhile pursuit because it will pay back its investment many times over.
It will also make it easier for you to tackle those really bad habits that aren’t so good for you.
Remember: To err is human. To forgive is divine.
If you cultivate a sense of kindness and friendship towards yourself, it will be easier to transform your habits in the long run.
2. Be more mindful
Mindfulness helps to detect the nagging thoughts that lead to obsessive eating, drinking and smoking.
When we meditate, we allow ourselves the opportunity to listen to our body and thoughts without judging them. This is especially important because it helps us with Point #1 - to be more kind to ourselves.
You’d be surprised, three minutes is enough to get you started.
But more than that, mindfulness truly gets to the underlying motivations to your actions. The answers to your most pressing problems often reside in your unconscious.
It doesn’t matter how much your parents, friends or partners tease you about your bad habits. You have to recognise them yourself, and then take the responsibility to change them.
3. Take baby steps
So, you’re now cultivating a sense of kindness and friendship to yourself. You’re mindful about your situation and the bad habits you know you want to change.
What do you do next?
You’ll want to take baby steps to breaking free from your bad habits. Make it so small that you know you can do it.
Instead of eating 220 grams of chocolate, you eat 200 grams.
Instead of smoking ten cigarettes a day, you smoke 8.
Instead of sitting in front of the computer all day, you go outside for a ten-minute walk.
I’d much rather you take small steps and get some kind of results than that you do nothing at all. You know you’re in trouble when you do absolutely nothing, because that’s when you’re trapped.
The only way out is through taking action. Forget about the naysayers. Only surround yourself with people who support you.
But above all, do your best to prevent bad habits from taking hold in the first place. Prevention will always be the most effective way.
Now if you’ll excuse me, but I’m off to get some chocolate… I’ll only eat 200 grams this time. Now that’s a promise
Over to you
How do you break free from bad habits? Let us know about your experience in the comments.
Do you want more tips on how to break free from your bad habits? Check out my free report Everyday Rules.
Thanks to TheCulinaryGeek for the yummy photo!