Habit is any action that we have performed so often that it becomes almost an involuntary response. Most of life however is habitual. We do things today that we did yesterday, days, weeks, months and even years before. Habits, therefore makes the man. Or like Aristotle says, “We are what we repeatedly do”. Any habit that is considered undesirable could be labelled negative or bad habit; and like healthy habits, they are subconscious behaviours formed through repetition.
Bad or negative habits range from seemingly harmless and innocent ones like nail biting, nose picking and cracking knuckles to more harmful and destructive ones like gambling, smoking, borrowing, overeating or food addiction as well as illicit sex.
If one wants to become more productive, it’s imperative that one breaks from one’s bad habits and develop good ones. This however calls for willingness to take conscious actions and the determination and ability to make decisive choices.
Pay-offs and Trade Offs
The reason that bad habits are so difficult to break is that on a deeper level we gain a sense of emotional satisfaction from doing the action. There’s a pleasant feeling each time we continue the habit. This positive reinforcement that goes on with the habit makes it difficult to break the habit.
Hence the first step in breaking a bad habit is to look at why you find this action so compelling, in other words, what’s the payoff for doing this seemingly negative thing? Since you have already classified this as a “bad” habit you may be tempted to say there isn’t one. But look closer, there is always a payoff. Next, take a look at the trade-off. What is it that you are losing by exercising your habit? This step should be easier. Just think why it is that you consider it a bad habit in the first place. Contrasting the trade-offs with the pay-off becomes a motivation for wanting to break loose from the grip of the negative habit. It equally highlights the wisdom ingrained in the choice of dropping the bad habit for a good one.
Overriding Negative Habits
Any bad habits can be broken; from nail biting, criticizing of others, smoking, drinking, excess Tv watching, or any other negative behavior you might want to target and eliminate. If you are not happy with where you are with your habits, below are a few tips that could be employed to become the kind of man or woman you ought to be.
1. Awareness: You must become aware of your habits.
2. A strong desire for change: A strong desire to drop the habit(s) must follow the identification of the habit(s). To break a bad habit is to acknowledge your desire to quit.
3. Commitment: You must be determined to do whatever it takes for breaking bad habits so that you can better control your life.
4. Circle of Influence: Our habits may be based on our core principles, but the surrounding elements will often change them on a daily basis. Hence, If you want to break your bad habits, you should surround yourself with people who don’t have that habit in question. If this calls for a temporary or permanent break off from old buddies – as difficult as it may seem – don’t hesitate to trade them off for the ultimate off of fulfilling purpose.
The paradox is, we make our habits and then they turn around and make us. Good habits move us forward in the “cars” of life; bad habits set the “cars” in reverse.
You can improve anything, if you persist. Habits weren’t formed in a day and they won’t be changed in a day. Practice may not make you perfect, but it will, in time, give you a new habit.