Bad habits – we all have them, and more often than not, they are challenging to shake. However, this does not mean impossible! Habits are actions that are performed repeatedly that become ingrained, and in turn, hard to give up.
Habits themselves are neither good nor bad, but they are labeled in terms of the effect they have on your quality of life. So, just as you can get stuck in bad habits, you can also find yourself with good habits too! All of this comes down to the mind. This piece will discuss the psychology of bad habits and how you can change your mind set for the outcome you want.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself Over Bad Habits
Bad habits do not just happen overnight, so they certainly will not be eradicated overnight, either. Be gentle with yourself. Write down why you want to break a bad habit, so you can see tangible goals and be kind to yourself if you slip up – this does not undo progress!
Look for alternatives to make the transition easier and replace a bad habit with a better one. An example of this would be instead of smoking, try vaping, and treat yourself to a sweet e juice, so you have something to look forward to. There are many approaches to breaking bad habits, so just find one that suits you!
Bad Habits and Rewards
First and foremost, bad habits are usually formed because the participant is being rewarded in some way when partaking in them, which makes sense; otherwise, why would someone keep repeating something bad for them?
For example, smoking gives a nicotine hit that can make the body feel calm and relaxed. Smoking is a bad habit, but the calming properties of smoking are the reward. There are a few ways to eradicate bad habits, most of which will depend on which type of reinforcement your personality works best with.
Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, and Bad Habits
Perhaps the most common approach to bad habits is punishment, and it has been since we were little. If we were naughty, we might get a smacked bum, or our sweets were taken away. Self-inflicted punishment is an option and can work for those who have strong willpower and work best with deterrents. For example, if you smoke, a punishment must be in place for when this slip up happens, or something enjoyable must be taken away. It is up to you to define those terms and what really matters to you, and to enforce those rules to help eradicate the bad habit.
Rewards, Positive Reinforcement, and Bad Habits
Positive reinforcement is a much healthier approach and can often have better results. Instead of the promise of taking something away or a punishment for a slip-up, rewarding good behavior can keep people motivated and on track. Punishment or negative reinforcement can tend to make people feel like failures or can even make them give up. In contrast, positive reinforcement for a job well-done means they are both achieving their goals, i.e., giving up smoking, and also allow themselves something such as a treat, or something they have wanted for a while when reaching a milestone.
This is a brilliant way to help those who want to change their mindset positively!