Ηabits are eternal part of our life. There’re habits which make lifestyle better whereas other make it worst. Ironically, we easily identify a bad habit but still find it difficult to get rid of it. Before learning how to break bad habit let’s understand how they get planted in our lifestyle.
There are 3 important stages required to form a habit. You may name this combination as TRR.
A trigger could be understood as an entry gate for all behavioral activities. When mind gets favorable emotion, time, location or environment it triggers or responds.
For example feeling sad after a breakup or your team loosing a match could be a possible trigger. Not only sad feelings but excitement, cheerful moments, tense situations and other moods do trigger our mind.
A trigger is responsible for performing set of actions. A routine starts forming on repetition of same response. While watching a close football match, mind triggers to bite nails. One good video can force to scroll way down a social media feed. Stressful situation forces us to drink or smoke endless. Hence, trigger may bring a good or bad response.
Alternatively, routine or pattern could be called as habit. These patterns get deeply connected with brain neurons. Eventually, brain assumes this pattern to be good for relieving stress and emotional imbalance.
When a pattern starts hitting dopamine frequently then our mind take it as a reward. Dopamine is neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure. This reward associated with a unique behavior helps a habit to stick.
Sugar rich food/drinks hit dopamine more frequently. This pleasurable experience force our mind to consume these kind of food in regular intervals. That means reward is the root cause of habit.
Let’s take a look on how to use TRR for changing our bad habits. At every stage you can break bad habits by following some measures.
Break a bad habit at Trigger Stage
1. Identify the cause
What’s the entry gate of your bad habit, from where mind gets motivation to follow this pattern. To identify this, you have to put some check points.
It could be the food you are having
Environment and people around you,
What time of the day it is,
Observe checkpoint like these. They will act as reminder whenever a pattern repeats in future. It’s an effective way to move a habit from your unconscious mind to conscious mind.
Let’s say you are coming late in office and want to change it. After observing your behavior for few days, you realized morning chats and social media scrolls are the reason behind it. Instantly, your conscious mind will store this information.
You decide to put your phone on silent mode or turn off till you get completely ready for the office. Basically, you removed the trigger, helping you to break this habit.
Chaos inside, would never help to accept a checkpoint. Resulting, delay in action against addictions.
Things are much easy for a calm mind. Meditation is helpful to maintain a balanced intellect . Reports suggest, meditation increases consciousness of mind toward its own activities and helps in memory retention and concentration. This makes consciousness to put stronger reminders, whenever, a bad habit gets triggered. No doubt, your will power to stop a habit will get more stronger with meditation.
3. Avoid Stress
Various studies concluded, stress results in developing certain bad habits. As we discussed earlier, the dopamine factor activates more in stress, with naturally higher urge to feel pleasure.
More the stress, more different habits your mind will search in order to hit the dopamine and get relief. In general, people in stress starts drinking more alcohol, smoking and even drugs. All these substances activates release of endorphins — chemical that produce feeling of pleasure.
Therefore, it is advisable to stay away from stress. Following an organized lifestyle and regular exercise is advisable to decrease tension. An organized lifestyle will even help to improve your personality.
Break a bad habit at Routine stage
1. Slow down/ Break the flow
An interesting fact with habits is that they follow a flow. There is some kind of regularity which our mind gets use to.
Let’s say you are getting fat and loosing health. After inspection, you observed that consuming excess junk food and cold drink while watching a movie are the culprits. Write down these facts so that the unconscious mind gets an alert.
Next time, slow down a bit to allow your consciousness to active, and reminding you to stop. You can also pause the movie and go for some walk. This way you can break the flow and let brain alert you about the consequences.
2. Replace bad habit with good one
Negligence to break an unwanted habit completely, do revive it after some time. The reason for this revival is a void created in your mind, right after scrapping a bad habit. This void have to filled with some new behavior, or else, your earlier behavior would fill it.
To avoid this, give your mind a better replacement for current bad habit. May be, you smoke in office intervals just to past time. Replace it with a fresh juice or coffee. If you urge to eat while watching a movie, make sure it’s nuts/dry fruits, rather burger/pizza.
This technique not only break bad habits, but will offer you some good habits. Start small, with less prone habits and try to bring changes in your lifestyle. Once you gain self confidence and discipline, targeting deep-seated habits would be easy.
3. Thinking about worst consequences of bad habit
What if I tell you that 1 cigarette takes away 11 minutes of your life.
Isn’t it scary that every burger/pizza bite is taking you more closer to type 2 diabetes.
Human tendency is to get scared by consequences. When it’s about life, the fear becomes wild. This fear isn’t imaginary at all. That’s how we stay away from wild fires, snakes, walking in middle of the road, because, the fear is real.
It’s true, an undesirable habit is snatching some part of your life. Slowly lifestyle starts affecting, relationships start deteriorating, self-blame is all over mind and many other negative impacts could be seen. Give a thought to the worst result being addicted to habits and how bad the situation can get. The imagination needs to be practical rather exaggeration. No doubt this will haunt you but only for your better self.
Impact Of Reward
1. Punish yourself
Be a little harsh on yourself for an awful behavior.
Remembering the dopamine factor, how if we change a pleasant reward with a harsh one?
Instead of feeling good, undergo suffering for each repetition .
Punishment after repeating an unwanted habit will send negative signals to the mind. Consequently, less number of times dopamine will get hit. This way by changing the reward you decrease the frequency of an action and soon vanishing it.
For example, for each cigarette, do 20 push ups or climb the stairs 10 times. Soon after, your mind would start running away from doing same mistakes.
2. Appreciate yourself
It’s important to appreciate yourself for every good habit you adapt. Also, It’s not bad to take yourself for a ride for every bad habit you break.
Keep a journal and write good things about yourself for every successful day you spent. Keep track of your improvement and on every milestone don’t forget to feel proud of yourself.
Sharing your success stories with friends and families isn’t a bad idea either.
Believing in existence of scientific process to build a habit, and reasonable methods to counter it, is very important. Half of the battle is already won with realization of an addiction. May be you fail altering trigger stage, but still there are 2 more stages to dominate. Thus, to break a bad habit requires patience and observation. Never loose the hope and keep on trying.