When most of us hear the word habit, we usually expect the prefix ‘bad’ in there somewhere. Habits have gotten a bad rep, and are mostly associated with smoking, nail biting, or doing worse things like drinking too much or taking drugs.
However, habits, like every aspect of human behaviour, have evolved because. A habit isn’t just an embarrassing or self-destructive behaviour; it’s anything that we do automatically without thinking and highly useful when it comes to actions and behaviours that we don’t want to forget.
Examples of good habits include saying please and thank you, washing behind your ears, making your bed in the morning and eating healthily. Once you can control your habits, they can be a great tool for self-development. Here we will look at how to do just that.
Forming New Habits
They say that to form a new habit you need to do something regularly for 30 days. Set this target from the outset to make your goal seem much more attainable and give you a much better chance of succeeding.
Next you should find a trigger that will serve as a reminder. Often we fail to stick to new habits simply because we don’t remember to do them and this can quickly mean we forget the good intentions all together. There is a solution though which is to use some other regular occurrence as a reminder.
When I had a bad knee, for instance, I needed to stretch it every day in order to stop the pain. This was difficult to remember so I used my morning shower as a reminder (they were all standing stretches). This way, every time I had a shower ,I would remember I was meant to be ‘doing something’ and I wouldn’t forget. You could even write yourself a note in the shower in washable marker as a reminder.
If it’s a more general habit, then you can also try using a more general reminder. For instance, if you want to remember to regularly practice maths, you can use a tie around your wrist to remind you.
Kicking Bad Habits
Kicking bad habits is more difficult, but again starting out with the more modest aim of 30 days of abstinence is a great way to get yourself on track. You then need to try to remove any addictions, chemical or emotional reasons for your habits. Even a seemingly harmless habit like biting your nails might be the result of an emotional issue such as stress or the need for an anchor, so try speaking with someone who is trained to help.
You can also try using cognitive behavioural therapy to try and convince yourself you don’t like that behaviour. For instance, if you bite your fingers, then next time try really imagining the last time you bit them too far and caused them to bleed. Focus on that feeling and suddenly you will be less inclined to do it – at least for a while.
Jeff Wright is a successful entrepreneur and a philanthropist. He believes that everyone deserves a second chance in life. He is the board member of a charitable organization that has drug rehab centres all over the world to help people who have lost their way in the voyage of life.