How to Change a Habit, Once And For All
Have you ever been halfway through eating your afternoon snack before you realized you weren’t even hungry? Are you unable to quit smoking, even though you’ve tried a dozen times? Do you have a gym membership that you haven’t used in years?
Nobody is perfect. We’re all human, after all. Everybody has a habit or two that they want to change. And it’s not easy. If it was, you would have done it by now!
After years of trying and failing to change a habit, you might be feeling a little defeated. Maybe you feel powerless in the face of your habits. Maybe you think it means that you’re weak, or lack self-discipline.
But that’s not the case at all. Just by trying to change a bad habit, you’re making yourself a better, stronger person. Building good habits is within reach.
The reason you haven’t been able to break your habit has nothing to do with your will-power. It all has to do with understanding your habit, psychologically and emotionally, and using science to help kick it.
How To Change A Habit For Good
To Win, Understand Your Enemy
Before you can change your habits, you have to really understand them.
You see, habits aren’t a reflection of weakness. A habit is a psychological process. A four-stage psychological process, to be exact.
A habit is made up of these 4 stages:
Here, let’s break it down with an example. Imagine if you had a habit of eating a cookie every day after you finished your lunch. Some days you don’t even really want the cookie, but you eat it anyway. Every now and then you want to eat healthier, but you just can’t stop eating that after-lunch cookie.
The first part of a habit is the trigger. The cue is a trigger for a certain craving, which leads to a certain behavior (in this case, eating the cookie). You get tired after you eat your lunch, and this fatigue is a cue.
The cue activates a craving–the second stage of habits. Because you are tired, your body craves something sweet and sugary that will give you a burst of energy. It’s not the taste of the cookie you crave (even though you may think that’s what it is). Actually, you crave the carbohydrates in the sugar that will fuel your body, even if just for the time being.
This craving initiates a response. You feel tired, so you eat one of the cookies you keep in your desk. Then, you get your reward–the sugar rush that hits and gives you enough pep to get back to work.
Our brains are constantly seeking rewards. It’s an evolutionary trait that helped us survive because we craved food and water for survival. Feelings of pleasure and reward create this habit loop in our brain. This is why it’s so hard to break a habit.
The Four Steps To Changing A Habit Forever
Now that you truly understand what a habit really is, you can learn how to break the cycle.
The first thing you must do for changing habits is to learn what the trigger is. Think back and look for patterns that emerge around those times that you indulged in your habit. Do you only smoke cigarettes when you go out drinking with your friends? Recognize the cue (becoming intoxicated in a social setting) that activates the craving (for nicotine) and the response (smoking the cigarette).
The next step to breaking a habit is finding an alternative. Brainstorm some things you can do instead of the habitual response you want to change that offer similar results. For instance, if you end up binging a TV show after a stressful day at work and then get upset that you never have time to work on the novel you’re writing, you need to find a healthier, less time-consuming way to destress after a bad day. Maybe do some yoga or take your dog for a walk. These activities will clear your head and destress you, and you’ll still have plenty of time to write a new chapter.
After this, you must commit to changing but maintain flexibility. Create fair, firm rules that you must follow, but also check in with yourself and be open to finding other solutions if one of the replacements you choose doesn’t work for you. For example, try to replace the TV-binging with yoga for two weeks and see if you feel better. If downward dog isn’t for you, try the dog park with Fido for a couple of weeks. Be committed to finding the best solution for you. This is all about making your life better.
Finally, always remember that to err is human. As you know, breaking a habit isn’t easy. Sometimes, you’ll mess up. You’re not perfect, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be. The worst thing you can do if try to change your habit, face one setback, and give up. Instead, you should plan for setbacks and be understanding with yourself when they happen. Beating yourself up after hitting one stumbling block isn’t going to make changing your habit any easier.
Sometimes, You Need More Help To Break A Habit
Ideally, now that you know the four steps of breaking a habit, you will be able to change all of your unwanted impulses by yourself. But sometimes, you need more help than a four-step outline. The outline is a good place to start, but some habits are too big to tackle alone. That’s where TOPUCU comes in.
When you make the decision to work with TOPUCU to break your habits, you are making the decision to better your life. A new you is possible. We teach you why you have so much trouble breaking your unhealthy habits. And then we help you train yourself to choose better, building habits that are healthier.
TOPUCU teaches you how to recognize the cues that trigger your unwanted habits. You’ll learn about the routines that make your habit worse and how to change them for good. But breaking a habit is more than learning about routines and triggers. It’s about learning to value yourself. It’s about knowing that you are worth it. Your quality of life and happiness matter. And you deserve to be the best you that you can be.
We teach you how to make your mind, body, and heart work together to conquer your demons and break those bad habits once and for all. You can take the skills you learn at TOPUCU and use them for the rest of your life to be a better, happier you. You have the power to change your life. It all starts with you.