We have previously considered how to form a new habit and in this post, I want to explore the relationship between doing that and breaking a bad habit. This method is about getting at the underlying causes of your addictive behaviour, whatever it might be.
There are many bad habits that you might wish to tackle using this method. Here is a list of fairly common addictions (bad habits) that, if you have any of them, you might like to think about breaking by trying this simple approach:
List of Common Addictions:
- Video Games
What these things all have in common, of course, is the promise of some kind of short-term gratification and the secret to tackling any one of them is to firstly recognise why you feel the need for such gratification. Now this may not be what you want to hear if you are addicted to some substance or behaviour, but generally, the reason you have that addiction is that something is missing from your life.
You could do some deep soul searching by simply asking yourself the question: what is missing from my life? If you try this, be prepared to listen for an answer and don’t worry, they can’t lock you up for talking to yourself 😉 But you could be genuinely surprised by the answers that come to you if you try this exercise. I have recently been working on one of my own addictions and when I asked myself that question, the answer I got was ‘fun’.
You might like to try meditating on the question. If so, get yourself into a relaxed frame of mind. Still your mind. Try to think of nothing at all. Concentrate on your breathing. Do it (breathe) consciously and count the breaths in and out. Continue doing this, with your eyes closed until there is genuinely nothing at all on your mind. No thoughts at all – nothing. Then ask yourself the question. Be prepared to continue, concentrating on nothing but your breathing. Try not to think about anything once you have asked the question. Wait for an answer.
An answer might come to you instantly or it may take considerable time to determine what it is that you are trying to replace with your habitual, bad or harmful behaviour. If you don’t get an instant answer, don’t give up. In fact, one particular technique involves asking yourself exactly the same question over and over again until you get an answer that feels right. When you have an answer, then you can go to the next stage because you have something to work with.
To eliminate your bad habit, I want to suggest that you work on forming a new habit and, to do that, you can use the same technique we discussed in the 30 day trial. Now, I don’t want you to think about replacing one bad habit with another, though perhaps replacing smoking with, say, chocolate does seem like a certain amount of progress, at least to me.
What I want to suggest is that you identify some things you can actually do that relate to the answer you got to your question about what is missing from your life. To stay with my example, if fun is missing from your life, brainstorm a list of fun activities you could get involved in. Everyone’s idea of fun is different, but come up with your own list. Once you have that list, you can work on forming a new habit based on doing some of those fun things habitually.
Whatever you decide is missing from your life is the thing you need to concentrate on. You will have made real progress just by identifying what it is. When you know, be persistent about acquiring new behaviour. Do a 30 day trial. Perhaps you might try running, playing tennis or whatever represents fun (staying with our example) for you. Try it for a period of 30 days and see if it impacts your addictive behaviour. If it does, then you are on to something.
You will feel much better about yourself when you know that you can break that cycle of negative behaviour and you won’t need the addictive behaviour once you have addressed its underlying cause. So commit to replacing negative behaviour with positive behaviour, in this way, until you have completely conquered your addictions. And don’t wait. You know you want to change and in itself, that’s a significant first step.