How to break a bad habit


  • 1

    Understand and admit to yourself that you have a bad habit. You won’t get anywhere unless you can admit this fact. Ask yourself:

    • What is my bad habit?
    • Why can’t I get rid of it?
    • What things stop me from getting rid of it?
  • 2

    Decide how you will break your habit. Here’s a good method: Every time you catch yourself preparing to bite your nails, suck your thumb, or whatever else you do, stop yourself and make a mark on a calendar. If you really stick to your goal, you will see the number of marks steadily decrease over time.

  • 3

    Build your own "NO SMOKING" zone: Find someone you like who disapproves of your habit. Tell yourself you will not indulge in the act whenever you are around that person. If you like the person enough, you will find yourself having less desire to go back to the habit. Use the person as an anchor. Just be around this person whenever you feel like controlling the urge. (This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be around this person when indulging in the undesired habit, just try to use their dislike of the habit to fuel your own will to quit.)

  • 4

    Capitalize on other negatives: Use any other clashing habit or negative about yourself to combat the habit. For instance, if you’re lazy, be lazy about your habit. Think of it as too much effort. If you’re a smoker, keep your pack locked up in your car down the street. Then you’ll find it easy to be too lazy to go get one.

  • 5

    Try to replace your habit with something new and positive in your life. The key is not to focus on the "not doing", but to think instead about "doing". Instead of thinking about missing that piece of chocolate cake after dinner, think about how good it is going to feel to take a long walk without all that sugar in your system.

  • 6

    Reward yourself. Once you have gone a week or so with no marks on the calendar, buy yourself a sundae, go shopping, eat at a fancy restaurant, or whatever makes you happy.

  • 7

    Forgive yourself when you slip: Don’t beat yourself up if you end up falling into the habit again. Pick yourself up and try again. Your efforts have not been wasted and you have not lost any ground. With every attempt you make yourself stronger.

  • 8

    Open your eyes: Life shows you the way if you just listen. You always "know" when you’re crossing a line. Go by your gut and avoid it when you "know" you should.

  • 9

    Visualize the new you, without the habit: See it, feel it, hear the sounds of success. Hear the compliments. Hear your new thoughts of how great it feels to have made this change.

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