How to change bad habits into good ones: The word habit is coined from two Latin words habere and habitus, which means “condition, or state of being” and “have, consist of,” respectively. It also originated from the french word “Habit” which refers to clothes but in this context, the latin origin is more relateable.
Habits are behaviours, actions that we carry out day by day and automatically without having to pause and think of what we’re doing. It is general knowledge that a part of the brain known as the “Basal Ganglia” is active in helping us form habits, maintaining them as well as replacing new habits with ones already in existence.
Habits are necessary to help free up space in our heads for other important things that we need to actively think about for their effective execution. Habits are categorized as either good or bad based on the reasons behind their existence. A persons life is a reflection of their habits be they good or bad habits, hence the need of mastering the process by which bad habits can be replaced with good habits cannot be underestimated.
Why are habits formed?
Habit formation can be looked at in two ways, either under good habits or bad habits. And this will be expanded as follows;
Good habits are those behaviours and actions that have become part of the person and are beneficial or positive to the person. Good habits are mostly intentionally gained, like when a person starts working out everyday and gets used to it. But bad habits are a usually a result of stress and nervousness.
People form various bad habits to get a kind of relief be it stress eating, smoking, spending too much time on social media, sleeping too late at night or whatever and this is usually linked to the theory popularly known as the 3R’s which tell much about how habits operate and they are; reminder, routine and reward. The three R’s signify trigger, behaviour or action and the benefits.
How to Change bad habits into good habits.
Habits are a very great part of the lives of most of us and a person cannot just wish away a habit or completely stop it. This would be almost impossible because a void would be left, hence the best approach to eliminating a bad habit is to substitute it with a good one. Some of the steps to be followed in such conventions are;
1. Make a list of your bad habits: for a person seeking to solve a problem, it is necessary to first find out the problem before looking for it’s causes and other information that will help solve the problem, hence a person needs to identify the bad habits he has cultivated and the effects that they have had and are still having on him. Then he can move forward on looking for how to combat such problems.
2. Make a decision to replace them: while talking about habit, it is important to know that these are already existing behaviours that has become a part of us and which we engage in for a sort of pleasure or pacifying even if the negative effects out ways the positive impacts for instance a person who always eats icecream when under stress and gets relieved immediately but who is also prone to brain freeze.
The major point is that, it is almost impossible to stop a habit, rather you need to decide on a good habit as a replacement for it instead of seeking to stop the bad habit instantly. Instead of the icecream to pacify the stress, put fruits in your icecream space and do not even buy ice cream to the house at all.
3. Mentality: after listing your bad habits and making the decision to replace them, it is necessary to visualize yourself breaking the habit by preparing mentally to face the challenges involved in embarking on the habit replacement plan.
4. Decipher your triggers and acknowledge them: in dealing with habits, the three R’s which are reminders, routine and rewardz as mentioned above are indispensable and the first R reminder or trigger is necessary in any attempt to exchange bad habits with good ones. There are certain triggers to every habit which sort of calls out to the habit. For instance, a person who uses phone at night before going to bed when ever he does not fall asleep on getting into bed immediately.
He knows that phone before bed does more damage than good for your sleep but still places it on the nightstand everyday. The trigger here is having the phone close by hence to avoid using the phone before eventually falling asleep, take it to an entirely different room so that you will not be able to reach it immediately you can’t fallasleep.
Also see: 10 Qualities of a good teacher
5. Get rid of the triggers: a person can easily identify and deal with triggers with the following questions; what time of the day does it happen, where does it happen, does it happen when you’re alone or in the company of people, how do you feel when it happens? Getting the answers to these questions helps to rid you of the triggers to the bad habit. Like changing the environment if your trigger is in your house or getting sorrounded by people if the trigger of a particular habit is being alone.
6. Focus on the benefits of the good behavior: when trying to replace a bad habit with a good one, it is good focus on the good one so that you can move ahead instead of remembering the bad habit and giving a dominant space in your thoughts. For instance, think instead of eating that Apple in the well decorated food place in your palour instead of trying to forget about the ice cream because trying to forget about the ice cream makes you think of it even if unintentionally.
Also see: How to become a successful entrepreneur
7. Slip ups and perseverance: in changing a bad habit into a good one you cannot be too hard on yourself, a habit like we have said is a behaviour which you have already lived through and is not so easy to stop so do not dwell on any slip up instead be cheered on by the little you have done and this is where perseverance comes is. You have to keep trying time and time again until you successfully replace the bad habit.
8. Give yourself a reward: the third R which is reward is very important because most habits are formed due to a form of reward or the other, hence when you do not slip in enforcing your new habit, given yourself a reward no matter how little it may be. This is a form of encouragement to you.
9. Get a partner: in combating change of habit, it is usually better to get a partner be it an accountability partner or a do it together partner. The first one can be a mentor who will help enforce some sort of punishment when you slip up while the latter is a partner wgi is battling with the same or similar issues and you both can work on it together while acting as check and balance as well.
10. Get professional help: after all being said and done, if you have tried following the do it yourselfs on replacing bad habits with good habits without substantial improvement hen it behoves on you to get professional help from a mental health professional on the issue.
Recommended: 10 Qualities of a good researcher
As we can gather already, habits are long lasting and had to break behaviour or action which have become second to the existence of the human being so it is usually Herculean if not impossible to arise on a beautiful day and decide to completely drop a habit which has been in place for a significant while. Instead it is wiser to substitute such unwanted habit with a more beneficial one and this is achievable by following the steps provided above.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.