Why Is Changing a Habit So Difficult?
Habits. We all have them, for good or for bad. Falling into the habit of something, in particular a bad one, is an easy thing to do. That is to say, it´s easier to fall into a bad habit than a good one. Good habits take discipline, focus and control to sustain. Not so for the bad ones, as a lapse in focus, attitude, confidence or emergence of a temporary weakness increases the likelihood of the bad habit continuing. Just like forming good habits, changing bad habits is a difficult thing to execute
Why? Because it´s difficult to break out of your comfort zone.
Our habits become part of our being. They make us feel comfortable, be that physically or emotionally. Once the roots of comfort have entangled, making a change can seem an almost impossible task. Most of us at some point in our lives, have habits that want to completely eliminate. The problem is that most people focus on the behavior that they are trying to eliminate. This is absolutely counter-productive to breaking habits. What we should be focusing on is the behavior that we are aspiring towards. By focusing on the desired behavior or outcome, our subconscious goes to work in favour of adopting the new habit.
You have probably encountered this many times before. Some people can just quit a bad habit and others, well, they just struggle. It is all about what is happening inside the subconscious. When your motivations are working at a subconscious level, it helps you work towards your end goal with less stress and anxiety. You can want something consciously without it being burned into your subconscious, but this often leads to a slow and painful failure. The key to orchestrating the change is to get both your conscious mind and subconscious mind working together.
Obstacles to Breaking Bad Habits
There are potentially a few initial obstacles to breaking bad habits. Not in the action or process itself, but in the person. Most people can´t seem to break bad habits, fall into one of three categories.
Here the person is actually oblivious to the hurt that they are causing themselves and others around them. These people carry on regardless with their normal routine and habits because they don´t see the problems that are being caused.
People in this category refuse to accept that their actions and habits are causing or likely to cause a problem. They will often change the subject when it´s brought to their attention or cut the conversation completely. After all, one more time won´t do any harm. Will it?
People who are aware that they have a problem or bad habit that they need to break but keep on putting off any course of action to change fall into the category of procrastination. They are more than aware that they should be on a different path, but they lack the motivation or desire to change.
How to break the habit
Breaking habits can be a long and daunting process but there is a way out. You can replace your old self-limiting, harmful habits with new positive life changing ones. Although the habit may be hard to break for some, the prize lies on the other side of a three-step process.
Arguably, this is the most important stage, as without accepting that this bad habit is causing problems, there is no way forward to kicking it. It is vital here to put pen to paper and write down all the self-limiting behaviours that are stopping you moving forward towards a better version of you. Self-analysis can be a difficult thing to do and so enlisting the help of a loved one or close friend may help. If you do this, you need to fully accept the perceptions of others, no matter how hard it may be to take. Don´t take it personal. Remember your end goal is to break the self-damaging habit that has been limiting you, hurting others around you and stopping you having a better life.
Once you have identified the behaviours that need to be replaced, you can start to plan your change.
Once the behaviours for change have been identified, we enter the stage of preparation. It is both tempting and easy to fall back into the procrastination category and so it is essential to develop an iron clad will. Again, put pen to paper and list the things that you need to do along with a start date to bring about the desired change. It would be pertinent here to enlist someone that will hold you accountable and make sure that you keep on the right track.
That day has arrived. This is the day that you are going to break the old bad habits and start to replace them with new positive life energizing ones. For many, this is one step and one day at a time and it is a great idea in your preparation stage to have organized a diary to monitor your progress. Looking at how far you have come and the positive changes that are happening will give you the impetus to keep moving forward.
Growth is positive, and any time spent away from bad habits is a step in the right direction. However, it´s sustained growth that moves you further and further away from the bad habit until it no longer becomes a desire and something that controls you is what counts. For many, temptation will always be there and lapsing back into those old bad habits is an easy thing to do. In these moments, ask yourself these questions:
- After all my hard work, do you really want to start again and go through all that pain?
- Is it worth seeing the pain in the faces of those who love me?
- What are the consequences of me lapsing back into my bad habit?
In extreme cases bad habits can be threatening to your life and the lives of others. If you feel that your life is out of control due to alcoholism, gambling and other compulsive addictions, you should seek help from a professional.
Do you need help breaking bad habits?
If you have tried and tried and tried again to break loose from a bad habiot and have been unsuccessful, drop me an email to: