If you are just like me or many of my friends, you have one or more bad habit you want to get rid of. But despite your earlier attempts to, you still experience great difficulty controlling that bad habit. After doing my own personal research, I found several insights which might be helpful. Read on.
Some time ago, I was inspired by watching my team mates with a serious bad habit that affected them, but also impacted others around them. They smoked. They knew it was bad, but they would not or could not stop. I had written previously about smoking as a bad habit which has negative social effects, such as littering, in a piece titled “What were they thinking?” But I also recognized that smoking was hazardous to the health and productivity of my friends and the rest of our team directly. And so, caring for my colleagues, I wanted to find ways to help them.
After combing through the literature and digesting all the latest advice on how to stop smoking I reached a simple conclusion. My findings were summarized in another post I wrote recently, titled “Are you ready to stop smoking cigarettes?” Now, here is the really interesting part. While I was focused entirely on the issue of why my friends could not stop smoking, I found that the lessons I learned applied more broadly. With a few word changes, the article I wrote might have been titled “Are you ready to stop that bad habit of yours?”
The truth is that every bad habit, such as excessive eating, drinking or gambling, is every bit like smoking. They all share the same challenges when one tries to get rid of the bad habit. What did I learn?
Addressing addiction is not enough.
Every bad habit has an addictive component. But just addressing the addiction was not enough to ensure a clean break from the bad habit.
Dealing with stress is not sufficient.
Just as with smoking, many bad habits can be associated with an overload of stress. Maybe it’s just for a moment, or for an extended period, but stress has a role. However, like with an addiction, removing stress does not guarantee removal of the bad habit.
You are irrational, and that’s normal.
Yes, that bad habit is not something you would do if you were acting rationally in your own self interest. And, if it’s irrational, then logic won’t help you solve it.
Focus on why you want to quit.
I concluded that the times someone makes a clean break from a bad habit is when they possess a strong interest in stopping. You must want to stop. So, the key is finding a good enough reason to quit that motivates you to.
Face the pain – A bad habit is just a habit thats hard to get rid of.
Getting rid of a bad habit is painful. It’s a habit because you like doing it. Maybe not consciously, but you have gotten accustomed to that bad habit. To give it up means doing something alien and counter to what is comfortable to you. That process of extraction will result in real or psychological pain, which will only be endured when you are ready to go all the way. And in order to go all the way, you must have a personal reason that’s worth it to you experiencing the pain.
About a month ago, my friend Imad who was struggling with smoking, decided he would stop. He had his own reasoning. For the first week, he coughed constantly and looked terrible. Since then he looks younger, fresher, has a spring in his step and is off cigarettes. He wanted to stop, for his own reasons, and he did.
Every bad habit is resistant, but breakable. You too can get rid of your own bad habit, but you must create your own internal motivation that makes you want to. After that, the rest is achievable.
Have you gotten rid of a bad habit? What did you try and what worked for you?