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Breaking Bad: How to Overcome Negative Habits

Do you have issues breaking bad habits? Say, tardiness or chain-smoking, procrastination, or cussing? Though we did not intend to form these habits, these became a part of us through regular practice, albeit unintentionally. We’re used to these things that we do them even on autopilot. 

As soon as we decide that we want to change things for the better, we find out that it is easier said than done. Like good habits, bad habits linger until we replace them with good ones. 

“You don’t eliminate a bad habit – you replace it.” – James Clear

But how do we do this?

A substitute, maybe?

We can identify the bad habit we want to deal with and following what James Clear says, we need to replace it with something better. What habit would you like to replace your excessive social media intake? Read a book, write in your journal, learn how to cook? Your substitute habit must be clear to you as a mental reinforcement of your decision. 

Stay away from your triggers

Sometimes our bad habits are just triggered by something. I have this habit of napping on my office table after lunch. Some resort to cigarette breaks when they get bored. Some find it difficult to monitor their social media intake as soon as they wake up in the morning so they end up late for work. 

Staying away from triggers means mindfully choosing your substitute when triggered to resort to your bad habit. I can opt to take short walks around the office every after lunch instead of napping. Smokers may choose to watch TV or Netflix when bored. Before going to sleep at night, placing your mobile phone away from you may help so you won’t be tempted to check your social media first thing in the morning. 

A winning attitude

Breaking bad habits begin in the mind. You have to be the first to believe that you can change your bad habits. Don’t doubt yourself. Convince yourself and don’t say it can’t be done. Even if you fail, move on and continue the process. You have to see the end in mind. Visualize yourself succeeding. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to change. Again, the battle is already half won with a winning attitude. 

Visualize yourself succeeding… the battle is already half won with a winning attitude.  Click To Tweet

Surround yourself with accountability partners

Accountability partners are people whom we can rely on when things get difficult; because it will be! Breaking bad habits is a grueling task. It is hard to unlearn something that you can do in an autopilot mode. 

Our accountability partners will remind us to stay on track. They will challenge us to continue when we feel like giving up. They will cheer us up and rebuke us when necessary. Plus, their presence gives us a boost, and we will be more intentional with our desire to change because we know that their eyes are on us. 

Overcome negative self-talk

It is easy to blame ourselves, sulk and quit when we fail on our attempts. We tell ourselves mean things out of frustration: 

  • “I’m stupid and good for nothing!” 
  • “I’m fat and out of shape!” 
  • “It’s very difficult to save money!”. 

When we find ourselves saying these, James Clear suggests that we finish the sentence with “but”…

  • “I’m stupid and good for nothing, but I know I could still learn new skills.” 
  • “I’m fat and out of shape but in a few months, I know I’ll improve.” 
  • “It’s very difficult to save money but little by little my savings will be enough.” 
Breaking bad habits takes time and effort… but with perseverance, we can break the bad and overcome our negative habits. Just don't quit! Click To Tweet

They say it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks, but we are not dogs and changing habits for the better will always be worth it. Breaking bad habits takes time and effort. For sure, there will be times when we will fail multiple times. But with perseverance, we can break the bad and overcome our negative habits. Just don’t quit! We can do it. 

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