I’m sure that each and every one of us has at least 1 habit that makes us feel that our life would be much better, if we did NOT have or practice that habit!
Habits could be activities that one does, thoughts that one thinks, or words that one speaks.
Let’s just take a look at the wording that most of us use when we refer to this “habit” and why it HAS to be:
- I am a…
- I have this habit of…..
- I am always like this…
- It runs in my family…
- I cannot control myself… I have to….
- I MUST do it… I have no choice
- I am addicted to….
And so on…
And when speaking about wanting to change, most people use the following words, or a variation thereof.
- I have no will power..
- I am fated to be this way…
- It is too ingrained in me to change now…
- I have “tried” many times, and cannot keep it up…
- I get tempted too easily..
- I am a……(usually a negative term about self)
And so on…..
It is not really important what words are used, or that there are many more variations. What matters is the core meaning that people convey about their ability to break the habit:
I do not have control over myself and I have ceded control to circumstances outside of myself.
The word “Habit” is explained as follows:
- A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.
- An established disposition of the mind or character.
- Customary manner or practice
- An addiction, especially to a narcotic drug.
What is truly interesting to note from the above, is that “Habits” are acquired. None is born with a habit. So, it also follows that when one learns a habit (that is not useful), it is possible to unlearn that habit, by replacing it with another habit (That is useful!)
So, the question that’s probably uppermost in your mind is, “Fine –HOW do I do this?”
For a more detailed answer, you could kindly read the book “The Power of Habit”, by Charless Duhigg. What follows is a mixture of what is found in that book, along with information gained from others, and my own personal experiences of working with people.
It is imperative to remember this:
Anything that is said or done is said or done for the benefit of the sayer or the doer!
So, the most important aspect in changing habits is to remember that anything that I say, I say because I get something out of it. Anything that I do, I get something out of it. If I am writing this blog, it is because I will get happiness when people read it, and maybe 1 person is able break a habit that they have been wanting to break for a long time!
There are 3 parts to a “habit” or “behaviour”:
- The cue or the prompt
- The action (Habit)
- The Reward (the benefit that is obtained from performing the habit)
Most people attempt to change the action, without first understanding the other components that are an integral part of the problem, and hence the area to search for a solution!
Step 1: Identify the reward
The main aim of practicing the habit is to get the reward J and without understanding that, aiming to change the habit is futile. So, the 1st step in searching for a solution is to identify the reward that one gets.
Step 2: Identify the Cue or prompt
Once the “reward” has been identified, it is important to identify the cue. The cue will be the answer(s) to one or more of the following questions:
The questions are for the time just before the “habit” is practiced:
- What time is it?
- Where am I?
- Who am I with?
- What did I just do?
- What am I feeling or what is my state of mind (bored, tense, angry, etc.)?
Step 3: Changing the Habit
Once the “reward” and the “Cue” have been identified, then, one can attempt to change the habit.
The key here is to identify a routine that can replace the habit, and yet deliver the same reward, and when the cues take place. If this is not done, the habit will never change, and one always relapses to the old habit. The relapse happens not because one does not have will power; it happens because the replacement habit does not deliver the reward that the original habit did!
So, is there a magic cure? Sadly no! One has to experiment with various new routines until one is able to identify a routine that delivers the same or similar reward, without the ill effects of the older routine or habit.
The key is to keep track of all data, the cues, the habits and the rewards – this enables one to see things for what they truly are.
And yes, to know more, you could read the book. And if you find it difficult to practice, contact me – maybe I could help! Stranger things have happened! J
Wishing you all, a happy, successful, and fulfilled life!