To get rid of any bad habit, choose something else to do in its place, then mentally practice doing that new thing to build the necessary neural structures. Results can be achieved more quickly by using self-hypnosis to intensify the new action.
What Are Habits?
Habits are sequences of actions that our brain has automated. All habits have a trigger event and may be changed by redirecting the trigger elsewhere.
Human brains work largely by associating stuff with other stuff.
And habits are the end result of this association process being applied to people doing the same thing over and over again.
Habits can be big or small. By the time we are teenagers, just about everything we do is the result of a habit.
Almost all habits that we form are good and benefit us.
We go to take a sip of our drink, and the habitual process kicks in, guides our hand flawlessly to the cup, picks it up, smoothly delivers it exactly to our mouth, pours the drink into our mouth, swallows, and returns the cup to its original location. All on autopilot.
The only thing we have to do consciously is decide to take that sip. And quite often, even that decision is automated by a larger habit.
Every habit has a triggering event. This is nothing more than something that reminds our unconscious mind to run the habit.
Habits make it so that we almost never have to think about most of the stuff we do every day.
Which frees our conscious minds to do other things like solve problems and create.
When we perform any process, our brains build pathways that match the sequence of events. Each time we run through the process, these pathways grow stronger.
With enough repetition, the pathways become preferred. And when that happens, simply experiencing the triggering event will cause the entire pattern to run.
If we attach a strong emotion, the habit is even more strongly encoded.
The Biggest Problem: Trying To Stop Doing A Bad Habit
The easiest way to fail when trying to stop a bad habit is to try to use willpower. In order to overcome a bad habit, it is necessary to choose something else to do in its place, then habituate the new pattern.
The big problem with trying to do nothing is that it’s not something our brain can latch onto. This means that it is extremely difficult to get rid of a bad habit by simply deciding to not do it any more.
Now, you’re probably thinking: But that can’t be true! I’ve done it before!
I’ve thought that too.
And every time I’ve checked to discover what I actually did, I’ve found that the old habit was replaced with something new.
You see, it’s not only physical actions that we turn into habits. We also build habits from our thoughts and emotional responses.
When we replace a bad habit with a new thinking habit, it can seem like we’ve simply stopped doing it. In reality, the new habit is the new thought process.
It is usually more difficult to replace a physical bad habit with a new habit that is composed entirely of thought.
If at all possible, always try to replace a physical bad habit with some kind of physical good habit, even if it’s just taking a deep breath.
How To Break A Bad Habit Step-by-Step
1. Model The Bad Habit
The very first step in overcoming any bad habit is modelling exactly when, where, and how you are doing it.
Take the time to work out exactly what you are doing immediately before you do the bad habit. This will lead you towards identifying their trigger events.
Identify any reasons you’re using to justify the habit to yourself. And then find a way to reframe them.
It doesn’t matter too much if you initially miss some since it is usually necessary to repeat several times over the course of at least a month. Which means that you can add any new triggers and reasons to your model as you work through the process.
2. Choose Something Else To Do In Place Of The Bad Habit
It’s generally not possible to simply stop a bad habit, so choose something else to do instead of it.
For example, if your bad habit is biting your nails, you might replace it with pausing, closing your eyes, and taking a slow, deep breath.
Whatever you choose as your replacement habit, be sure to choose something that you can do in every place where you currently do your bad habit.
3. Visualize Doing The New Habit
Close your eyes and imagine each situation where that bad habit has happened in the past. See yourself doing the new habit in place of the old.
This activity starts to build new associations inside the brain.
Ultimately, we want to get to a place where the trigger event causes the new habit to fire automatically.
4. Act Out Physical New Habits
Physical habits may be encoded much more quickly and easily by acting them out.
If it is safe to do so, physically act out the new habit. You can do this either by placing yourself into those situations, or by imagining each situation and then physically performing the new habit.
5. Repeat As Needed
As with many things, the key to success is to not give up.
It is likely that you’ll miss at least some of the triggers on the first attempt. This is not failure. It is a part of the process.
Similarly, even when you redirect a trigger to a new habit, it will usually need to be done more than once.
Notice whatever happens, and incorporate the new information into the next cycle.
It tends to take between 4 and 10 weeks to mostly remove a bad habit. Sometimes it can take as much as a year.
Pay attention to how much less you are doing the bad habit, and do not give up.
Quickly And Easily Overcome Bad Habits With Self-Hypnosis
Bad habits can be removed more quickly when we attach a strong emotion to the new habit. Making the new habit important to us is also effective. Both of these may be achieved using self-hypnosis.
The process that we’ve covered so far is one that I’ve used myself multiple times with great success.
However, sometimes our bad habits become important to us in some way. This is definitely the case with habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. We make up reasons to justify them.
And once we’ve got a logical reason to do something that we tell ourselves we enjoy or want, we’re likely to keep on doing it.
The quickest way I know of to resolve this is to identify any reasons, and then use self-hypnosis to reframe those reasons.
I usually do this by hypnotizing myself, visualizing a pathway, travelling along the pathway to a portal, stepping through the portal into a hypnotic reality, and moving things about on the other side. Then I come back out through the portal and along the pathway.
Self-hypnosis is a core skill that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful for many things, including getting rid of bad habits.
Beyond using it to alter our reasons for our bad habit, self-hypnosis can also be used to generate strong positive emotions. And as I mentioned, when we associate strong emotions with our new replacement habits, they are encoded much more easily.
So if you’d like to supercharge your ability to get rid of bad habits fast, go check out my article on how to hypnotize yourself right now!