The 6 Keys to Breaking Bad Habits

Think back to a habit you ’ ve tried to break. Whether it ’ s biting your nails, former night nosh, overspending, or constantly checking your earphone, harmful habits are easily to form and much hard to shake .
If you ’ ve always tried to break a bad habit yourself, you know what we ’ rhenium talking about. It doesn ’ thyroxine just take 21 days ( yes, that ’ s a myth ) – ending a habit requires willpower, scheme, and a dear understand of how habit form .
indeed, how can we break bad habits ? And what is it about habits that makes them sol unmanageable to shake, no matter how motivated you are ?
While it may not seem like it, habits are actually automatic behaviors, rather than well-considered decisions. Once they ’ re ingrained in your brain, they don ’ metric ton become a lot of a conscious choice.

Habits exist in the first place because they ’ re a shortcut for our brains. Our minds are evolutionarily designed to find short routes for everything, so we can conserve energy and focus on what ’ s authoritative. once our brain notices that we perform a specific behavior over and over, a habit forms, allowing our minds to go on automatic pilot so our bodies can take over .
so when going through your dawn act, commuting to work, or scrolling on Instagram right before sleep together, you probably don ’ t have to think very much. That ’ randomness because you ’ ve done this routine then many times that it ’ second ingrained .
Although they are huge time and energy saver, habits can besides negatively impact our productiveness, wellbeing, or happiness. But here ’ s the effective news – since our habits are crafted by our minds, the key to breaking bad habits is just knowing the right way to communicate with our brains. It ’ sulfur that easy .
here are 6 science-backed tricks to hack your brain, and finally shake your bad habits .

1. Find the core of your bad habit

Figuring out why your habit exists in the first home is much less intimidating than it sounds. Turns out, there ’ s a pretty clear recipe behind about any habit. Every habit has three basic parts, according to Charles Duhigg :
1. The discriminative stimulus – the feel, time, or location that triggers your habit
2. The act – the habit itself
3. The honor – the craving the substance abuse satisfies
How Habits Work according to Charles Duhigg - Lemonade Blog
Figuring out these components is the first step to hijacking your habit. here ’ sulfur how : pay close attention the future few times your routine ( read : habit ) happens, and try to notice the prompt and reward that prompted it. For best results, write down the prompt, act, and reward each time .
Let ’ s say you ’ re trying to break your habit of scrolling through your telephone before bed, because you ’ rhenium not getting arsenic much sleep as you ’ d like. Ask yourself, ‘ what triggers this routine ? ’ And, ‘ what crave is my body trying to satisfy ? ’
The adjacent clock it happens, take notice : if you shut your lamp correct before seam ( clue ), picked up your call and scrolled through your feed ( act ), and felt socially connected ( reward ), write it all down. After a few instances, see if there ’ s a model in your demeanor. If you always scroll through your telephone right after you shut your lamp ( prompt ), or notice this habit is bringing you a feeling of social gratification ( reward ), you ’ re onto something .
Diagnosing your bad habits will not merely help you find effective alternatives ( more on that late ), but it ’ ll besides help you become more mindful of your habit. This awareness will transform your habit from an automatic, subconscious mind everyday to a consider, conscious behavior .

2. Change your environment

Figuring out the ‘ clue ’ that triggers your habit is the first step to breaking it. Why ? It ’ mho what sets off your habit in the first place – without the discriminative stimulus, you won ’ t be prompted to go through the act in the foremost place .
So the antic hera is to eliminate the clue altogether. The best way to do this is to take advantage of a wholly new environment, according to our Chief Behavioral Officer Dan Ariely :

“ If you move to a new place, you won ’ t have all of these environmental cues. If you take advantage of a clock time when you go on vacation, or when you do something else for a few weeks, those are actually good times to break a habit. ”

The proof is in the pudding : researchers found that students who transferred to a new university were more likely to change their habits than students in the control group, because they weren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate exposed to familiar cues .
so looks like the best time to try to break a habit is during a work stumble or vacation. Since your brain won ’ thymine be exposed to its distinctive triggers, you won ’ thymine have to fight your instincts while trying to break the habit. And once you return to your familiar environment, it ’ ll be much easier to continue your streak .
If you aren ’ triiodothyronine going on vacay anytime soon, another hack hera is to eliminate that cue raw in the environment you ’ re presently in. Going back to our telephone exemplar, let ’ s say you ’ ve figured out that shutting your lamp is the prompt that prompts you to pick up your telephone.

Try to experiment, and see if you hush crave this habit if you don ’ thyroxine turn your on lamp in the first rate. Try to use your telephone light, or bedroom light, rather. It just might be the key to breaking that habit once and for all .

3. Reframe your goal as positive

now that we ’ ve tackled the ‘ clue, ’ it ’ s fourth dimension to focus on another key component of habits : the ‘ routine. ’ As a refresher, the ‘ everyday ’ is the behavior triggered by the ‘ clue ’ – it ’ s the habit you ’ re trying to shake .
normally, when we decide to break a habit, we put our goals in a negative frame. We say we ’ ra going to stop hit snooze, leave office biting our nails, or put an end to late-night nosh .
however, our brains ’ habit system doesn ’ thyroxine comprehend veto goals ( I will stop eating trash food ) – rather, they learn by working towards positive goals ( I will start eating healthy ). In fact, inquiry shows we ’ re more probable to achieve a finish that involves reaching a desired consequence ( eating healthy ) than eliminating an undesired consequence ( eating debris food ) .
How to work towards positive goals - Lemonade Blog
Why ? Psychologists say pursuing negative goals is associated with feelings of incompetence, decreased self-esteem, and less satisfaction with build up – and these emotions deter us from taking military action. On the other hand, it ’ mho a lot easier to become activated by the think of reaching a positivist goal, which will increase our chances of achieving it .
so quite than setting out to stop scrolling on your phone before go to bed, make it your goal to go to get better rest. Or, quite than aiming to stop splurging on weekend brunches, set out to cook breakfast at home more frequently .

4. Find a replacement you’ll love

here ’ s another reason our brains don ’ triiodothyronine grip negative goals : it ’ sulfur actually hard for our minds and bodies to stop a habit raw. once a habit forms, it becomes instinctual for us to complete the routine when our brains recognize the cue and crave the reinforce. so telling yourself you ’ ll barricade overspend at restaurants equitable won ’ thyroxine cut it .
preferably than trying to eliminate the habit – which about never works – the trick is to give your brain a new act that will replace the old one. How ? Keep the honest-to-god discriminative stimulus, and deliver the reward, but insert a raw routine .
How To Replace a bad Habit - Lemonade Blog
Going back to the telephone before bed exercise, you ’ ve already figured out that once you turn off your lamp ( cue ), you crave social interaction ( wages ), and that this habit is getting in the means of getting more sleep at night .
To replace this habit, you should think of another bodily process you can do when you get in bed that ’ ll satisfy your craving for social connection. Try calling a acquaintance for a few minutes, or FaceTiming your ma before bed ( bonus : it ’ ll make her glad ! ). experiment with a few routines to see what works best for you .
once you find your fresh everyday, make an attempt to do it each fourth dimension the clue and craving hit. Since this new substance abuse will fulfill your brain ’ mho crave, you won ’ thymine feel much physical or psychological pushback. And the more you do it, the easier it will be for your genius to engrain this new habit – pretty soon, it ’ ll become second gear nature .

5. Tell your friends about your progress

There ’ sulfur something underratedly potent about sharing your goals with others. According to a learn by the ASTC, if you tell a supporter you ’ rhenium work towards a finish, you have a 65 % gamble of completing it. If you set up a suffer or a coffee go steady with a ally to discuss your goal, your odds of completing it will rise to 95 %. now that ’ s powerful .
Why is sharing with friends so effective ? once we make a public commitment to others, we tend to feel obligated to follow through with it, due to our fundamental drive to feel that we ’ ra consistent in our behaviors and beliefs. This inclination is called cognitive noise, in psychology talk .
Sharing with friends besides leads to positive reward. Let ’ s say you tell a acquaintance you ’ re committed to start a habit of budgeting to spend smart. When you tell him that you cooked brunch at home, rather than eating out, he ’ ll probably answer with praise. When this happens, your genius will internalize the pleasure from hearing “ great subcontract ” or “ I ’ thousand proud of you, ” which will motivate you even further to continue spend bright .
thus when you set out to break a bad substance abuse, text a friend – ideally one who ’ s besides trying to break a bad substance abuse. If you commit to telling each other about your victories and setbacks, you ’ ll have a a lot higher find of changing your bad habit once and for all .

6. Be kind to yourself

When you set out to break a regretful substance abuse, chances are your efforts aren ’ triiodothyronine going to be perfective. It ’ second all excessively easy to scroll through your feed after a long day at oeuvre, despite your best efforts to go to bed early. Or spend that extra $ 30 on a brunch out, evening though you ’ re trying to cook breakfast at home .
When ( not if ) this happens, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself. If you beat yourself up, you may begin to associate your goal with negative emotions, which may interfere with your progress and motivation.

hera ’ s the good news : if you mess up every nowadays and then, it won ’ triiodothyronine materially affect the habit geological formation procedure in your brain, according to a study conducted by Dr. Phillippa Lally. If you cave, merely jump back on the wagon, and the addictive will continue as if it was never interrupted .
In fact, making a mistake is actually a generative dance step in your quest to breaking your habit – it ’ ll teach you a modern example about your substance abuse that can inform your scheme. If you ’ re trying to stick to a goodly diet but cave during a commercial enterprise dinner or times of high-stress, you ’ ll determine to prepare yourself for following meter. Chances are, this experience will lead to greater success in beating your minus substance abuse once and for all .

Time to break your habits!

We all have that habit we ’ re trying to shake, but setting out to stop equitable won ’ thyroxine switch off it. Our brains are the most powerful organ in our body – and once a habit is engrained, the merely means to break it is to communicate with our brains in a way they ’ ll understand. With these hacks and tools, you ’ ll arrest replace your habit in no clock, and who knows – possibly this replacement will improve your life sentence in a way that surprises you .

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