Don’t you just hate how easy it is to start bad habits and how hard it is to let them go? I know because I often had a habit of waking up in the morning and switching on music. The problem was I very absentmindedly forgot that there are people in the household still sleeping. Music uplifts the emotions and lightens up the mood, but at 4am in the morning? No certainly not! Switching on music so early in the morning while other people were sleeping was a very bad habit I had to learn to leave behind.
There are all kinds of habits that people want to break. Some people need better sleep habits, better eating habits, better spending habits. Everyone has something they’re constantly trying to discipline themselves to stop doing. It was while reading this article from Healthline that I realized that there are at least 7 ways of overcoming a bad habit and I will explore them below.
1. Identify The Root of Your Habit
There are many reasons a habit might form. For example, seeing something done by someone else and doing it yourself so many times that it subconsciously becomes something you do all the time can be the cause of your habit. Or, maybe there’s an emotional need that is attached to your habit. I was always lonely in the mornings because I woke up earlier than everyone else. Playing music comforted me, kept me awake, and encouraged me to continue to start my days early. What is the root cause of your habit?
2. Be Honest With Yourself About Your Habit
James Baldwin said, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” The same goes for our habits. It is very important that you recognize your habit and that you acknowledge that is not beneficial to you and/or those around you. Can you be honest with yourself about the impact this bad habit is having on you and those around you? If so, then you have one of the necessary keys to breaking this habit.
3. Tell Someone Who is Really Close to You
Whenever you are doing anything that is important or seems hard to achieve it is very important to seek out help from people who truly care about you. This is even more critical when trying to break a bad habit. The people who love you will be there for you holding you accountable as you make this lifestyle change.
At some point my family sat me down to discuss ways in which I would not use music or if I did then I would listen in a way that did not affect them while they were sleeping. We ultimately decided that I would have to try to wait at least 3 hours and then switch it on. This meant I had to find a substitute for my early morning loneliness. This is where accountability comes in. Oftentimes, when breaking a habit we have to find a substitute. This is very difficult. And many times the substitute does not meet the core need the original habit met so we end up going back to our old ways. Those closest to you can help you identify a substitute that both meets your core need as you discipline yourself towards this change.
4. Start Out Slow
I started out opening my windows for fresh hair and listening to the early morning air and the light snores throughout the house. Day 1 seemed hard. I wanted to switch on my favorite morning song. My mind was already telling me to do it and was playing and replaying the song. But I had to train my mind to let go of this habit and instead enjoy the early morning breeze and quietness. Slowly my body got used to it. In that way I had slowly replaced my habit with another one. Another way of thinking about it is, I started listening the natural music around me. I slowly found joy and company in those sounds.
5. Never Compromise on Harmful Habits
Some bad habits are harmful to the body. It is so important that you take care of yourself here because the body cannot speak as we do with our mouths, but it will definitely tell you when it is not being properly taken care of. Signs of dissatisfaction when it is abused or not taken care of will show. If your bad habit is harmful to your body then you cannot compromise on the necessary lifestyle change. Slowly practice doing the things that you know are good for your body. Start small in this and regain your body’s trust.
You can also imagine yourself becoming a better version of yourself and work towards that goal. Reward yourself whenever you do well with the goals that you have set. For example, maybe go out for dinner or invite friends over for a social night. Do something that you love to do but haven’t done in a long time. This will encourage you to stay on the right path.
6. Be patient
Nothing can be built overnight. And breaking a bad habit is like rebuilding yourself again. You need patience and endurance in order to accomplish such a task. Eventually you will do it without even thinking. But along the way don’t beat yourself about it. Building is a process. So, instead of breaking down when you revert back or make a mistake understand that you are not perfect and that you are in a journey. From that standpoint be willing to work with your body to slowly improve and grow into the better version of yourself that you envision.
7. Know That You Are Not Alone
It is important to know that many people around the world struggle with exactly what you struggle with. You are not alone. Always being aware of this is good because it reminds you that there is someone who broke it, and so you can do it too! At this point, it is also good to take it to the Lord in prayer. God should be involved in every step of your journey. Involve Him and He will give you the strength you need to overcome.
Paul writes in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” In fact, Jesus himself declared in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Praise God that we are not alone! That we serve a God that is acquainted with our struggles in this world, but has overcome the world! Because Christ has overcome the world, we have the power and assurance that in Him we can overcome our bad habits.
Habits are not easy to break but they can be broken!
Re-gain control over your body, your thoughts and your feelings and treat yourself well so that your body will be happier and you will be healthier. Because when you break bad habits you improve your relationship with others and grow in your relationship with God.