Old Habits Die Hard: How to Break Bad Habits

You suck.

It’s okay though because we all suck.

The things we suck at are bad habits.

It doesn’t mean we are bad people, it just means we do things that we aren’t proud of and we can’t stop doing them because they are habits.

That’s why we suck.

But, it’s possible to suck less.

How?

By breaking the habit.

I’m sure you’ve tried. No matter what your bad habit is, there are always some crazy solutions to counter it.

I once read about how someone used to dip their fingers in filthy ashtrays to stop them from biting their nails. Obviously, that is going to work but that’s a tad extreme.

You don’t have to be extreme to break a habit, you just have to understand why you do that habit and then replace it with something else.

Habits Don’t Die

When I said “habits don’t die” what I mean is that you will always have habits in your life. It’s how humans are able to think about other things.

Habits become instinctual and routine which allows us to use our brains on other things.

It’s impossible to be a habit-less person so that isn’t what you are trying to achieve.

What you’re trying to achieve is replacing one habit with another.

Hopefully, a more positive one that you really like and benefits you.

But before you can do that you need to understand your Trigger.

Trigger, what?

Habit Triggers

As much as you like to think that habits are random they really aren’t. Habits are always triggered by something.

For example, maybe you bite your nails when you feel anxious.

Maybe you roll your eyes when someone says “me”.

Or you eat cookies when you’re bored.

There is always something that triggers the bad habit and it’s up to you to figure out what that trigger is.

For me, the best way to do that is keeping an Hour Journal.

This is simply a journal that you write in once an hour to track what you’ve done. This might be too meticulous for you so you could just simply whip out your phone and take notes whenever you catch yourself doing a bad habit.

Some questions you should answer are:

  • What was I doing before the habit?
  • How was I feeling before the habit?

Doing this for a couple of days and answering these two questions will allow you to discover what is triggering the bad habit.

This is important because when you know the trigger, you can keep an eye out for it.

I used to have a bad habit of doing a lot of shots when I went out. I used to think it was just because I was the fun guy to hang out with but the reality of it was, I would do the shots when I felt like I wasn’t getting enough attention.

This sounds ridiculous when I write it out but it’s true. If I’m in a group and I’m not getting enough attention, I’ll get everyone shots.

Once I noticed this and became aware, my mentality changed.

I replaced one habit with another and that’s the 2nd step of this process.

The Replacements

If you’re doing a habit because of a feeling you have, chances are you will never completely eliminate that feeling from your life so you need a habit to act as a coping mechanism.

In my case, instead of going to get shots (I still do shots from time to time, but that’s to celebrate) I would compliment whoever was talking.

This helped me feel like the group dynamic wasn’t about drawing attention to me, but enjoying the company of others and to do that I threw praise upon someone else.

The praise had to be justified. It couldn’t be fake.

I wanted to replace the bad habit with a good one, not another bad one.