All of us have that one habit we’d like to break away from. But the saying seems so apt, right? Old habits break hard? Whenever you try breaking away from the habit, you end up failing and just resign yourselves to that habit. Everyone has their own version of a bad habit and everyone has their very own bad habit. For some it could be the biting of their nails, some it could be tapping your leg all the time whenever you are restless and nervous and some have a smoke. Studies say that habits are patterns of behaviour that are deeply wired into our brain by constant repetition and usually they are always associated with a trigger to start the pattern.
The very reason you want to break away from your habit is that it is bad and is affecting you in the wrong way. You probably don’t even remember when you started it, or you may even remember it. The main thing here is to focus on how to forget it and never be reminded again. Which is again, tough as hell and will need a good amount of will power and control. So, how do you break away from them?
Identify the behaviour
Know exactly you want to change. Once you know the habit you want to break, by the way, make sure that it is just one habit at a time you want to change. Human beings are creatures of habits and it will take more than just pure control and sheer will power to get over more than one bad habits.
Identify the trigger
What causes you to revert back to your habit? Why do you do it? What triggers you? It could emotional stress. It could be your boss giving you extra work and making you work overtime, and that could trigger you to want to smoke in order to soothe your rattled nerves. Once you identify what triggers you, you will be more conscious of what you are about to do when you are triggered again.
Replace the habit with a good one
If you feel that you are returning and going back to the same old habit, get a new one. Do you feel like smoking? Go buy a ton of gums. Nicotine flavoured if the normal ones do not help. Do you feel like having a pint of beer? Have an aerated drink. It is not easy. But you have to force yourself to do that and cope up with it so that you do not go back to doing what you did not want to do in the first place.
The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to fall back onto the habit. You do not want to go back to the habit and you will find it harder to refuse yourself. The need will be seductive enough to pull you back and you will barely even be able to resist it. Being stressed also catches you unawares and the need intensifies ten folds.
Be calm and breathe
Literally be calm and breathe. Ten tiny breaths. Space them out and visualise yourself to be somewhere else, anywhere but where you are and where the trigger that is causing you to go back to your habit is. No one said it is going to be easy and on some days it would test your goddamn sanity. You will struggle to break out of it, but then again so does the caterpillar from its cocoon and emerges out as a beautiful butterfly. Imagine yourself to be that butterfly and how you will fly away from that godforsaken habit.
Yoga helps immensely. It helps you focus on your own body and not only that, it also helps you improve yourself and help you focus better on the things that matter than your habits. It helps you revitalize yourself and reins in your straying mind.
Go for a run or do an exercise that winds your energy and exhausts it
Running helps you clear your mind and you leave behind that urge that claws its way into your head and slowly onto your hands to go back to your habit. Again, if you have zero practice in running, you are learning a new habit and already in the process of leaving the old one behind.
Remember baby steps. Do not jump and aim for the throat like you are an experienced predator. You are just a cub and may probably just end up getting a kick from the said habit which may result in you procrastinating how you will give up the habit in the coming few weeks, and how that gives you a free pass in continuing with your habit.
But in all honesty, you need to be aware of all this before you can even proceed. In a way, it is an addiction and the withdrawal is going to hit you hard. You are going to suffer no doubt, it is going to be one full ride to hell and back. You would be tempted a countless number of times and it will kill you every time you feel like using it. You will feel the urge clawing through you, and the only way you feel it will stop is to give in. But trust me, all of it is worth it. It will be worth it. The day will come when you look straight into the eye of the habit which you had so much trouble in letting go, that one habit which was so bad for you but still comforted and soothed all your nerves, and not want to try or do it ever again. That is when you will feel the pride coursing through your body instead of that urge and you will be at peace. You would be proud of your self and honestly? You have all the right to be as well.