Breaking Bad Habits
Habits are behaviors or thoughts that we do repeatedly without even thinking about it. The science behind the creation of habits is quite simple. Our brains are incredible. They can learn, process information, give us information. On a day a day to day basis however, our brain to some extent does not get involved in what we are doing. It does get involved when we are learning a new behavior or thought. After that the behaviors, skills, and thoughts become stored in a way that may be viewed as being similar to a pipe laid underground. It becomes part of a regular circuit for tasks and thoughts that occur repeatedly. After you truly have practiced and know a behavior or thought it becomes part of this automated system.
Each of us have hundreds of behaviors and thoughts that we use in our daily life. Many of these are actual neutral or beneficial behaviors. We shower, get dressed, we wash our hands and brush our teeth. Some develop routines for habits that may include exercise, meditation or sitting in the same seat all the time, or eating at the same place for dinner regularly.
This information is quite helpful to us because when you understand how habits are formed you can also learn how to break them, and how create new ones. Habits are created by repeating behaviors or thoughts over time. They are sometimes triggered by a situation. It is very important to note we are not paying attention or consciousiously aware as we doing them.
3 Tips to Successfully Break A Habit
Thanks to science we realize we can create new habits that over time become the new automatic pilot for our actions each day.
Pay Attention. The first step is to notice when you are choosing the habit. Catch yourself and write down the time, the possible trigger, and what you were doing before you chose the action you want to change. This requires us to be willing to be aware and more present throughout the day.
Identify a preferred action. Many of our habits are easier to break if we switch our behavior. We are so entrained to take action in specific situations. If we choose a different action that replaces the old one, this can be quite helpful. For example, instead of grabbing the can of soda when you are at lunch with friends, you stop yourself and grab water. You still are choosing an action. Now you are choosing one that is more nurturing for you.
Repetition. Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit. Once 21 days passes it becomes a new circuit, a new pipe that has now been placed. This allows you to begin to choose the preferred action without much thought or effort after you have practiced the action consistently for approximately three weeks.
There are many reasons someone may desire to create a habit, or end a habit. I often provide people with new mantras to assist them during the process. This helps them change their self talk to words that support them during the process. It is also important to remember to be kind to you if you have a moment, or a day that you did not feel successful. The important piece is you are aware, you are choosing more for yourself, and just give yourself credit for what you have done, and keep moving forward towards your goal. You can do this.