How to overcome bad habits.

Habits, what are they? why do they control out life? and how do we change them?

We all have habits. We are riddled with them, some are conscious and some are unconscious, why do habits matter? habits control the majority of our lives, up to 90% of the things you do during the day are habitual... and we don't even realise we're doing the majority of them! 

So what happens when we have bad habits? well these habits form our behaviour, which controls what we do during the day and then eventually determines the outcome and results of our life. Bad habits are the most crucial factor cause people to be unsuccessful. 

So why do we have habits? Well we have so many internal and external operations during the day that if we were to consciously have to think about doing them our brain would overload and like a computer we would crash!

Think about it... Imagine that you had to remember each time how to drive, tie your shoes, the walk to work and all the other intricate details of life!

Habits are there to support our lives and make them easier so we can focus on the things which need our conscious attention most and thus perform and grow!

How are habits formed? A habit is formed by continually repeating a set of actions over a prolonged period of time (usually about 66 days) until that action becomes so natural that we don't even have to think about doing it.

The problem with this,  just as easy as a good habit can be formed, a bad habit can also be formed. Without realising we can easily form habits of junk food eating, negative thoughts, procrastination, general laziness, alcoholism, drug abuse.. the list could go on forever!

So how do we remove a bad habit? unfortunately we CANNOT. Yep that's right we cannot "remove" a bad habit. Once the neurological pathway has been formed in our brain for any habit then its there for life! But the good news is what we can do is REPLACE a bad habit for a better one more aimed toward our life and success!

Habits have three key parts to them a cue, routine and reward. The first step is a cue (a stimulus) this can be anything from a site, sound , touch, time of day etc. The cue tells your brain to go into automation mode and sets off the routine, the routine can be either a mental thing (saying or thinking something), a physical thing (doing something) or an emotional state to feel. Then there is a reward which also can be a physical, mental or emotional reward. 

Now we understand there are 3 parts to a habit we can now control what the habit does, to change it all we must do is change the routine which is the habits physical act for something more positive... But we first must understand what the reward is giving us!

Lets look at an example underneath:

Lets say I have a habit of eating chocolate when I'm stressed and I'm getting over weight, So the stimulus could be : 

Cue : The boss tells me off at work which stresses me out. 

Routine : Eat a chocolate bar because it reminds me of being a happy stress free child.

Reward : Feeling of satisfaction and relaxation. 

What does this tell you? Its not the chocolate bar I CRAVE its the feeling of being a child and stress free again! So now we understand that, the situation stays the same but I change the routine for something more positive!

For Example : 

Cue : The boss tells me off at work which stresses me out.

NEW routine : Take 5 minutes to myself to carry out some stress relieving breathing exercises.

Reward : Feeling of satisfaction and relaxation.

Now you might be thinking.. but Barry meditation ISNT the same as eating chocolate so that wont work for me! And you would be right in saying so... the point is this routine works for ME, and may not work for you. You need to find your own routines which gives you the same craving and satisfaction, you cannot use anyone else's! 

So what do YOU need to do exactly.... 

1. Identify the habit you want to change

2. Take a journal and write out what you are exactly saying, doing, where you are, the time of the day and whatever else relevant information is important at the time of your carrying out the bad habit. 

3. Look for patterns of similarity and highlight common areas where the bad habit is flaring up.

4. Now you know the cue, ask yourself what REWARD are you getting from carrying out this bad habit, sit down and write down what craving you feel and what the habit does to reward it. You need to be really specific and honest with yourself.

5. Now replace the routine with a new one that still gets you the same reward but in a healthy and positive manor. This is a try and fail system , it may not sooth the craving, and you may have to try a few different variables till you get one routine right which does the job.

So that's it! that's how you change a bad habit into a good one, it takes some time and effort but I can assure you that no bad habit is set in stone and it can be changed! 

Like this blog? The next blog will be on forming brand new positive habits which will propel your life forward!

To keep updated follow me on Instagram for news on the next blog post @lifecoachbarry

Habits can be hard to break at times , and if this all seems quite daunting I get it! feel free to contact me on the consultation tab at the top of the page, leave your details and ill get in contact with you!

Working with a coach is the most efficient and effective way to break any habit and start creating the life you want!

That's me over and out for now. 

Take care!