Get rid of bad habits – that’s how it works

Get rid of bad habits – that’s how it works

A bad habit is any learned behaviour that negatively impacts on your life which can contribute to bad health, both physically and mentally. It can further contribute to failed relationships, not accomplishing goals, social rejection and wasting energy and time.
A bad habit can be defined as anything that a person does that either influence their own lives negatively or that of other people they interact with on a daily basis.
The following quote summarises how bad habits develop and succeed in influencing people’s behaviour:

“All bad habits start slowly and gradually and before you know you have the habit, the habit has you.” Zig Ziglar

The first step in getting rid of any bad habit is to know that you have a bad habit, the influence that it exerts over you and the people around you. Knowledge is power and knowing how habits develop and how to get rid of them is a positive start. This piece will examine bad habits and how to get rid of them.

What is the cause of adopting bad habits?

According to research, two of the major causes of bad habits can be attributed to boredom and stress. People that are bored and stressed are more likely to get involved in behaviour that contributes to them feeling busy and less stressed. In many instances, this leads to behaviour that plays havoc with their health and relationships that contributes to increased stress levels, which in turn leads to adopting more bad habits to cope with it.

Many of the behaviour that people overindulge in like drinking, smoking, taking drugs, overeating, overspending, gambling, binge-watching movies can be ways in which they tend to cope with boredom and stress. The feelings can be caused by underlying issues that the person might not be fully aware or don’t want to admit. It is very important to honestly reflect on the real reasons why you experience stress and boredom. This is the first step to get rid of them.

Getting rid of bad habits

This is easier said than done because of the way habits develop and as the quote warns us – “before you know you have the habit, the habit has you.”

Adopting a habit is learned behaviour that becomes an integral part of the behavioural pattern of an individual, to whom it is perfectly normal to do something or act in a specific way. The habit has taken over the person’s unconscious thinking and they act in accordance as part of their natural behaviour.

All habits good or bad has some benefit for you that can be either physical or mental, the individual’s dependence on the benefit provides the answer to why people continue with bad habits. It is important to realise that in many instances the person doesn’t see anything wrong with the bad habit. To them it is not easy to just quit the habit, the only way in which it can be done is to release the stranglehold that the habit has on them.

How it works:

There are a number of steps that can be taken to get rid of bad habits and the following list will provide some answers:

  • The habit must be recognised as being a bad habit. There are many lists of bad habits that have been compiled which can be consulted to identify bad habits that might be present in your life.
  • Speak to someone who knows you well like a spouse, family member or friend that you can trust to be honest with you. Let them help you to identify bad habits that impact on your health and relationships.
  • The next most important step is to admit that you do have a habit that is bad for you. You can only get rid of a bad habit if you admit that your habit has negative consequences for yourself and other people.
  • Depending on the type of habit you can either decide to go for counselling and therapy or both. This will help to identify possible underlying reasons for the bad habit.
  • It is important to replace the bad habit with behaviour that will still provide benefits but without all the negative effects of the bad habit.
  • Involve people that you can trust to help you with the process of unlearning the behaviour that constitutes the bad habit. The encouragement of a loved one is one of the greatest motivational factors.
  • Unlearn the bad habit in the same way you learned it, slowly and gradually. Some people succeed in stopping a habit immediately but a very large percentage fail to permanently change their behaviour.
  • Accept that you will have setbacks along the way but see it as temporary and not as failures.
  • Reward yourself when you achieve certain milestones in getting rid of your bad habit

There is no quick-fix to get rid of a bad habit, it requires dedicated action that will help you to unlearn the habit the way you learned it, gradually.