Ways to Quit a Bad Habit

If you google the internet, you'll be inundated with so many blogs and youtube videos about ways that can help you to break a bad habit. What I've come to realise is that depending on what the bad habit is you need to apply the method that is best suited to that particular negative habit. What works for other people may not work for you in every situation.

Let's suppose you have a bad habit of nail-biting when you are anxious, stressed or just nervous. How would you go about quitting this bad habit?

Method 1: Develop Mindful Curiosity of a Bad habit

With mindful nail-biting, you become aware of your action - which is moving your fingers to your mouth, as you take the first nibble of your nails, you are curious about what it feels like on your fingers, your teeth, the taste of unhygienic nails and the unflattering image that you projected to people around you. Take a moment to really look at your hands and fingers and compare to those of your peers who don't bite their nails. Do you feel good about the results of nail-biting?

Strategy of Mindful Nail-biting: Notice the urge - investigate and get curious why you bite your nails - let go of the urge by distracting your hand away from your mouth (e.g., pick up a pen, run your fingers through your hair, or put your hand in your pocket, etc.) - recognise the positive feeling of not giving in to the urge - and repeat.

Method 2: Replace a Negative habit with a Positive one

For example, you tend to over consume alcohol when out with friends and then got yourself into a mess afterwards. Too drunk, incoherent, and a pain in the a**. People find that you're not fun to be around with anymore. So, how can you stop this from happening again?

You need to come up with a plan and a simple strategy that you need to stick to when you are offered alcohol at an event. Suppose your friend offers you a glass of wine, what is the most suitable response?

Instead of rejecting the drink brusquely: "No, thanks.", you may respond: "Doctor's order, I can't drink alcohol tonight, I'll just have a glass of water, thanks." This way, your friends won't feel offended and are less likely to be offering anymore drinks to you for the rest of the night. No hard feelings.

Method 3: Tackle One Bad Habit At A Time

Train yourself to think differently. Change your environment.

Another bad habit that I can relate to is procrastination. We tend to leave everything to the last minute. For example, should I mow the lawn now? Nah, I'll do it tomorrow. Should I go for a swim? Nah, too many people at the pool at this time, maybe later. Should I go for a run? Nah, the weather forecast just said that there's a chance of rain during the day.

The thing is "tomorrow" and "later" and "there's a chance that ..." will never come! Period.

So, I've developed a strategy that has prevented me from procrastination. Instead, of "Should I ...?", I say to myself: "I am ..." and just do what I want to do. I don't pause to think "should I", "whether this or that", "can I?", "maybe ...". This strategy has worked wonders for me in how I choose to live my life. I've learnt never to use "Monetary Reward" or "Monetary Punishment" in order to motivate myself. This method is shallow, superficial and does not work in the long run.

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