How To Unlearn Old Habits
What's the saying? 'Old habits die hard?' This is very true as anyone who has tried to stop doing things that they have been doing for a long time will know. However, it is possible and perhaps looking at it as not stopping these habits but unlearning them is the way to approach it, but how can you do that?
By definition, habits are something that you do automatically, without even thinking. Habits are usually made unconsciously, and their behaviors usually occur in chains of activities, meaning that something will set them off, and then a sequence of events occurs. Once a trigger sets a habit chain in motion, it is difficult to stop it: You either don't notice it is happening, or it plays with your mind, so you don't care.
Don't Eliminate, Just Replace
All of your habits, both good and bad, are in your life for a reason which makes them very difficult to simply eliminate. Instead, it's important to replace a bad habit with a new one and preferably something that provides a similar benefit. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches skills training which places an emphasis on unlearning old habits and picking up new, healthier routines.
For example, if you smoke when you are stressed, then it's a bad plan to "just stop smoking," instead, you need to come up with a different way to deal with stress and insert that new behavior instead of having a cigarette.
Choose A Substitute
You need to be prepared ahead of time for how you will respond when something triggers your habit. What are you going to do when you get that urge to have a cigarette? Or when you want to check Facebook when you should be working? You need to find something that will work, whether it's going for a little walk, doing ten situps, breathing exercises, or writing something down. Find something.
Cut Out Triggers
If you know you smoke when you drink, then don't go to the bar. If you eat biscuits when they are in the house, then throw them all away. Make it easier for yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.
How often do you try to diet on your own? Instead, pair up with someone and quit your bad habits together. Both of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your success together. It's very powerful knowing that someone else expects you to be better and it can be really motivational.
Visualize Your Success
Picture yourself throwing away cigarettes, buying healthy food, or waking up early. Whatever it is that you are looking to change, visualize yourself smashing it, smiling, and enjoying your success and practicing your new, healthier habit instead.
Plan For Failure
We all make mistakes and slip up every now and then, but it doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you human. Don't beat yourself up over a mistake, plan for it and accept it and just pick yourself up after.