Whether we are willing to admit it or not most of us have a few or more habits that we wish we were able to change. So what is it that keeps us returning to these same habits time and again, even when we know that they may not be in our best interest? Keep reading to learn why we cling to behaviors that don’t serve us, and how we can get rid of these bad habits to make our lives better.
Habits are an automatic response to our environment that we have formed by repeating the same behaviors and actions over and over again. They can form easily when we are bored or under stress and are not thinking about what we are doing.
When we are repeating tasks that we already know how to do our mind goes into autopilot mode and this is when we act out our repeated behaviors without any conscious thought. Some habits are good and help us to achieve our goals, like being conscientious, exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, meditating and eliminating mental, emotional and physical clutter from our lives. Others are not so good, and actually prevent or severely limit our ability to achieve our goals.
Where did I learn my bad habits? They are not something that I consciously chose to adopt.
From the time we are born, until we reach the age of seven, our minds are like a sponge and absorb information from the environment we are brought up in. This includes the behaviors we are exposed to from the people who have influence over us, the TV programs that we are put in front of, the kindergartens we go to, schools, and social groups that we belong to.
At this young age, we are not yet able to make decisions about which information to take on board because we don’t have the ability to think critically for ourselves. Therefore, we adopt All the information that comes our way. Our minds are so eager to learn, so hungry for information, and they do not yet know how to make a distinction between which behaviors and habits will help us get the things we want later in our lives and the ones that will sabotage our dreams for a healthy, wealthy, happy and wise life.
The ‘good and bad’ information and habits are indistinguishable for our young minds and so are absorbed equally! Therefore, it is in our formative years that we form the habits that we will subconsciously return to for the rest of our lives…… unless we change them!
Why do I repeat behaviors that I know do not benefit me?
I do not know anyone who wants to change their good habits, so it is only our bad habits that we are concerned about here. If you, like the majority of us, currently support bad habits that you know are not in your best interests, you must already understand that these habits are not supporting your goals and dreams for a better life. We each may have one or more bad habits that we wish to eradicate from our lives.
These vary from the extreme, including drug and alcohol addictions, smoking and other forms of self-harm to more moderate examples which can include negative self-talk, always being late, chewing fingernails, procrastination, emotional shopping, and wasting time on social media.
Why do we return to them again and again? It is our subconscious programming (the mind on autopilot) that is responsible for most of our thoughts and actions every day of our lives. Research indicates the up to ninety-five percent of the time we are not actually consciously thinking, but are in fact reacting and thinking based on the learned behaviors that we acquired from the time we were born until we were seven years of age.
So, ask yourself, were the people responsible for programming you ‘enlighten mystical beings’ or were they regular humans with their fair share of hang-ups, problems, issues, and bad habits?
So what did you learn from them? How to be self-critical, judgmental, and pessimistic, or how to thrive, continue to learn and grow, strive to reach your full potential, and basically have an all-around optimistic attitude?
Are bad habits ruining your life?
It is quite evident when looking at the state of the world that the vast majority of people harbor habits that do not support them to live a life of peace, harmony, and abundance. Instead, many people live with poverty, fear, anger, violence, and self-doubt to name just a few of the problems that we face on a daily basis.
But, it does not have to be this way! It is our beliefs that lead to our thoughts and habits that have created the lives we are currently living.
- If you are always late, you will never achieve a higher position at the office.
- If you are fearful of what others think about you, you will never speak up to share your unique ideas.
- If you are lazy, you will never strive to be better than you are now.
- If you spend all your free time on social media, you will be reduced to the mentality of the ‘herd.’
- If you eat fast food all the time, you will never be a great sportsperson.
The list goes on and on, and with reflection, it should be easy to identify some of the habits that each of us has that may be preventing us from achieving our goals.
Once identified, the choice is ‘what do we do about it?’
How do I break my bad habits?
First, you must clearly identify the habit you wish to break and then you can withdraw all support you have for the habit.
For example, if you wish to stop drinking so much alcohol, there are actions you can take to help you. These may include driving a different route home after work so you do not go past the pub where you normally drink, and to stop hanging out with ‘friends’ that encourage you to ‘go for a quick drink’ and then keep offering ‘just one more for the road.’
A nail-biting habit can be easily changed by adding a foul tasting (non-toxic) substance to the nails you regularly chew on, so biting them will quickly become a very unpleasant experience.
Our mind is our servant! Yet most of us are controlled by our programmed thoughts and habits. Remember these are the ones that we did not voluntarily choose for ourselves, but were instead programmed into us by our families, the TV, news programmes, the schools, etc. while our impressionable brains were still absorbing ALL available information.
Whatever is going on in our lives is a direct result of our mental programming which leads to our thoughts and actions which create our life’s circumstances. If you want to change something about your life’s circumstances, you must first change your mind! This will, with time, lead to a change in your thinking and acting habits.
How long does it take to change a habit?
Unfortunately, that’s an impossible question to answer! We are all unique individuals with our own set of habits which affect us to varying degrees in our daily lives. Having a set number of days in mind to break a bad habit can be detrimental as if it is not achieved we are setting ourselves up for more self-punishment and more negative self-talk.
Habits, by definition, should be difficult to break, as it is learned behavior, ingrained, through repetition, into our being. The good ones support us and make our life easier and more pleasant. However, the bad ones, ohhhh, the bad ones we can do without!
How badly do you wish to change some of your bad habits? Think about it, seriously! Your answer will determine if you are ready to change from negative behaviors to ones that will support your dreams in life.
The time taken is not important, as the whole of our lives is a journey of self-discovery. On this journey, if we consciously develop an attitude of ‘becoming more self-aware,’ we will personally develop and evolve ourselves each and every day by becoming more mindful of ourselves and our environment. It’s easier than you may think to change bad habits. All it requires is your awareness or mindfulness!
Change your habits, change your life!
Changing habits is impossible until we have reached a firm resolve to do so. Positive modifications to our thoughts and behaviors can only occur once we have changed our minds to stop supporting our negative behaviors, as all power to change comes, first and foremost, from our minds. Our minds, (thoughts and attitudes) can be explored with meditation and mindfulness techniques as well as numerous other methods. This journey of self-discovery is so worth it as by changing our habits, we will change our lives.
Any change, by definition, is something different from what we had or did before. Why not change with the attitude of making significant improvements in our lives?
If you are going to change, instead of just eliminating bad habits, why not replace them with better habits that support your long term dreams for a fantastic life for yourself and your loved one?
Change does take time, but it is worth it if we are willing to invest time and effort into our personal growth and development to create the future life we desire. Do you have unfulfilled dreams and desires that you would like to see come ‘alive?’ Everything is possible for us. We have magnificent minds, but sadly most of us are not utilizing their potential! Are you one of them?
What are you waiting for? Have you identified a bad habit that is limiting your potential yet? Are you ready and willing to do something about it?
Click HERE to go to reviews on some awesome books that helped me change my life by first changing my thoughts and attitudes. New supportive habits were formed with time, that layed the foundation for the amazing life that I am currently living!
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I would love to hear about your experiences with breaking habits.
Shared with love and respect in the hope of making the world a better place, one soul at a time,