How To Break Any Bad Habit Forever
Stop taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back every time you try to break a bad habit. We all need to realize that there is no magic pill, there is only one way to break a bad habit and the key is motivation.
You need to understand why you want to break a certain habit. It is recommended that you write your reasons down, and reflect on them often. All habits form in a similar way. This process has 3 key components.
1. The Trigger
There are certain places, people, times, senses and feelings that trigger you to do something. For example, if you are a smoker, you might only be reaching for a cigarette around a certain person or group of friends. Or if you are trying to stop eating fast food, and you only eat it when you feel tired after work, that feeling might be your trigger.
2. The Action
A bad habit can be very stubborn. For example, a feeling of boredom may lead you to grab a bag of chips. That is your action in this situation. When it happens, you need to pull back, be mindful, and realize why you are doing this action? What triggered you to want to do it?
3. The Feeling
The action that you take only happens so it can provide a certain feeling to your brain. Your brain forms connections and it knows that you are going to get that hormone fix after a glass of wine. That's why when cravings happen, we feel like it is completely out of our control. The stronger the feeling, the stronger the neural pathway is.
So now that we know how both good and bad habits are formed, how do we break them?
Now that you know the Trigger, and you know the Feeling you are seeking when you take a certain action, you need to change the action. Obviously, we can't just decide to change something that is deeply connected to our emotions only by using willpower. This never works as most of us who have "started a healthy diet" before know.
The way you replace the action is by creating a Pattern Interrupt. A pattern interrupt is anything out of the ordinary that you would do in order for your brain to feel confused. For example, next time you are about to binge on something like pizza, do 5 burpees. As soon as you finish doing your pattern interrupt, go straight to your new habit (for example, healthy eating instead of pizza, or starting a new morning routine). After you complete this, write the time of when this occurred for future reference.
You will notice if you do this long enough (a couple of weeks), the number of these events gradually but quickly lower over time. You should keep doing your pattern interrupts until you have completely overwritten your old habit and replaced them with new ones.