You don’t break habits by stopping, you break them by substituting. This is a standard rule in psychology.
A habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. This implies that habits could be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.
Therefore if a habit is bad, it can be replaced with good and vice versa. However considering the latter is always a bad idea.
I have this thing about keeping to time. Some years ago, I was considering going to events and engagements late, since I was almost always amongst the first set of people to arrive. I often arrive before the organises of the event. It was frustrating and they called it “African timing”. Luckily a good friend was able to advice me otherwise and I still enjoy keeping to time. This is a classical example of wanting to change from a good habit to a bad one. This habit actually happens a lot- mostly when people think there are taken for granted or when they are not having there way as fast as they would want to.
However, the question before us today is: How do you break a bad habit?
Bad habits are decisions that stand against our values and principles. It is a negative behaviour pattern. Common examples include: too much time on the internet doing unproductive things, overeating, procrastination, etc.
Just because it is popular with your surroundings doesn’t make it an less a bad habit.
Steps to Breaking Bad Habits
This for me, is the most important ingredient in breaking bad habits. If a person is not honest about the whole process, it would be surprisingly easy to relapse. You must first and foremost accept that the habit is bad and unhealthy to your purpose and goals in life.
It cannot just be a thought or people’s opinions; you must after coming to the realization that the habit is bad, accept it and want to change for yourself.
Become your Motivation:
Breaking from bad habits must be done for you and you alone. The consequence of breaking from a bad habit affects your atmosphere, but your atmosphere must never be your sole motivation. If your environment or people around you are the reason you want to change, how sure are you that you will still want to be different when these people are no longer around, probably due to change of environment?
Having others as your sole motivation is setting yourself up for easy relapse. This explains why there are certain things you feel comfortable doing only in the absence of certain people.
Therefore, in breaking from a bad habit, do it for you as you’ll always be everywhere you go.
Triggers are what give you permission to exist in those bad habits. By identifying these triggers, you become conscious enough to avoid them. The secret is to be observant, we all know our bad habits, notice what motivates you and the things you indulge in because they have become a pattern, it would be easy to identify.
Don’t ignore the triggers- handle them:
One of the greatest triggers in the world today is technology, and what I often do is fast them.
Fasting is an intentional act of not doing something that you regularly would have done; as in this case, fasting my phone or television.
If your trigger is junk food for instance, you dispose of it so as to tilt your cravings in another direction. If a lady’s nakedness is a trigger for lust for you, then you must avoid gatherings that permit nudity- All these procedures are just an introduction, it doesn’t stop there. The solution is never to stop a habit, you must replace them.
Avoiding nudity was maybe possible in the time of our parent’s parents… These days, it is all over the place: from homes to internet, to our classmates and coworkers, to the market, billboards, churches and etcetera. So therefore, as explained in step four; after you consciously avoid gathering that promote nudity like clubs, you have to train your mind as Job said in the bible not to look at a woman lustfully.
Instead of spending endless time watching movies and series which are in themselves triggers for lust, you substitute that time for something more productive like reading a book or having a healthy conversation with a friend or ensuring that the movie is suitable for all age groups.
The idea is to deal with the trigger before if has the opportunity to start.
As with any other situation, you replace the negative trigger with a positive trigger. In the junk food example, after disposing of them, the plan is not to wait for the trigger ( eg. Boredom or stress) to kick in before thinking of an alternative, the plan is to already have an alternative. As in this case, one might decide to buy fruits and keep in the house. Bad habits take consistency to build and would need consistency to rebuild with substitutes.
It is important to be accountable to someone. This person will help keep track of your progress. They’re the ones you call when that craving for sex hits you harder than usual.
It is however necessary to understand why an accountability partner is important. This is because in a situation where you are in trouble and they’re not accessible, it is this understanding that keeps you from falling.
The common sense thing to do would be to leave the party or that your friend’s house or switch off your phones or the television or anything activating your sexual mood. Accountability partners tell us to do these things. With or without them, these are the things we must do. Reporting or hearing from accountability partners gives us a sense of responsibility.
Accountability partners can also act as a support system. There are certain journeys you don’t need to walk alone. You can go selecting movies together, you can go the the gym together, you can visit friends together. The idea is, they’ll help keep you in check.
Breaking any habit isn’t necessarily going to be easy. Giving up half way is never the solution. You must hold on despite all challenges and stay true to why you wanted to change the habit in the first place. Reward yourself from time to time, allow you accountability partners and support systems appreciate your efforts and when everything is said and done, continue working towards whom you were created to be.
Seek Professional Help:
There is no shame in this. If you have done all that you can do and those habits seem to be reoccurring, seek professional help form Doctors, Therapists, Counselors etc. These people are trained and paid for one reason and that is to give you help. Seek and accept their help.
If we must take charge of our lives, we must be in charge of our lives. This is the ultimate goal of breaking any habit that holds us back from our potentials and possibilities. Even though I have given some examples in illustrating some ideas, our habits that need change are peculiar to us, let’s leave this blog
post ready to do something about it.
Thank you, I love y’all…
Oluwatosin Olabode aka Double ST