Of course I can stop my bad habits. I quit smoking… dozens of times every day!
Yes, it’s a bad joke. For many people who are willing to talk about their innumerable failed attempts to break their bad habits, it’s either bad jokes or tears.
“Don’t you know you shouldn’t __________________?” (Fill in the blank with your bad habit of choice: smoking, eating bad foods, biting nails, not exercising, talking on the phone while driving, etc.)
“Of course I know I shouldn’t. Don’t you think I would if I could? Rubbing my face in it makes it all the worse. And the worse I feel the more I do it.”
I’m here to let you know that you—YES, YOU READING THIS—can absolutely break any bad habit. All you have to do is know how. The solution is surprisingly simple.
Let’s say you have onychophagia (compulsive nail biting). As my mother used to say, “You bit your nails down to your elbows.” You focus on stopping:
“I will not bite my nails. I will not bite my nails!”
And what happens? You end up giving yourself a reason that it’s okay to bite them or, in a moment when you’re focusing on something else, you find your fingertips in your mouth. That’s what often happens with any habit you wish to break.
To understand why you’ve failed, you have to look at what you’re doing. Look at what you’re focusing on. What is it you will not bite? MY NAILS. MY NAILS. MY NAILS. The more you focus on it the more your attention is on your nails. Eventually, your actions will to return you to your nails and biting them. After all, that is the focus of your attention.
So, step one is this:
It’s not enough to stop doing something, you have to replace it with something else.
Further, that “something else” needs to be appropriate. If you try to replace biting your nails with running around the block you’re not going to succeed because you can’t do your running as easily and as unconsciously as you can when biting your nails. A good replacement behavior might be reading a page from a book or magazine, or getting a drink of water.
As long as you don’t give up you haven’t failed.
I have a friend who is a vegetarian. She went to a restaurant and had a “vegetarian” bean burrito. She found out later, however, that the restaurant had lied about the food. They seasoned it with meat.
Does that mean she ceased being a vegetarian? Not at all! It meant that she was a vegetarian who accidentally had some meat. If she gives up, saying “Well, I had meat so I’m not a vegetarian any longer” and eats a steak, if she gives up, then she is no longer a vegetarian. But if she stops going to that restaurant and continues as a vegetarian, she remains a vegetarian.
Only when you give up do you fail. If you take the information from what happened (the food had meat) and then act on that information (don’t go there again), you are a success.
So if you go back to your old habit, it’s only a failure if you give up. If you learn why you failed and act to prevent that from happening again, you will succeed.
The third step is for you to:
Know it won’t be like this forever.
Experts in habit change believe it takes 21 days, just three weeks, to change an unwanted habit for a desired habit. That’s all! That bad habit may have been with you for 21 years or more and you can end it forever in just 21 days. Yes, those 21 continuous days may be a challenge, so reward yourself after 7, 14, and 21 days. Buy some clothes. See a movie. Try something new and fun. Be kind to yourself. Don’t hate yourself for what you don’t like; love yourself for everything that’s great about you.
What bad habit will you replace?
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy, and has become a certified hypnotherapist and Master NLP practitioner. His book, Modern Magick, is the most popular step-by-step course in real magick ever published.
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11 thoughts on “3 Easy Steps to End Those Bad Habits Forever!”
Hi i opull my hair for more than 15 years i stopped and i do it again.. nice to read your article loved it! i will replace it with a good habit..:)
I eat a lot when I try to quit smoking and thats not good for my weight or my diabetes
thank u for giving me the comments
I don’t know if i could quit now,reason being if i don’t smoke i feel like eating every sweet thing you can think of…and that is bad for me since my goal is to loose weight. Smooking make me forget about junk! How can I QUIT both?
I promise you guys can do it. My grandma stoped drinking,smoking, and eating carbs. Try chewing on a piece of gum or things that are chewy.
Your advice works with minor behavior problems, like nail biting. But with more serious, long standing addictions, like alcohol or crack, I don’t think so.
I smoked for many years, 2 1/2 packs a day. I “stopped” many times, sometimes for several days. Finally–and this will sound weird to some people–I prayed that I would get sick for a long enough time that I would lose the intense craving that made me want to knock my head against a wall. I got the flu, a severe case, and 20 days later I no longer had a craving for cigarettes. I took up running (like your writer suggested–habit substitution) and was fine after that. Whenever I felt like a cigarette, I ran.
I have thanked God many times for helping me get sick enough that I could withdraw in relative peace from smoking. Whether you think what happened was Divine intervention or coincidence, sometimes we need something to get us over the hump. At least I did.
Fantastic logical procedures for stalling bad habits.
I gave us smoking in one second…it was as simple as that. drop it rather than holding it between the fingers….it is your own mind that you need to control. Think that you were never a smoker…have water when you get the urge for smoking…and there you are a freeman…with better lungs taking fresh air
Look at the faces of your loved one’s now you can see that smile which is a tonic.
Count the savings you have made over a month, you could donate it for a good cause.
what better reasons
It is not just words…i used to smoke 40 Cigs a day feeling great being a chain smoker…now i am a happier man.
Friends any habbit is not hard to leave it is only we who hold on to it
It is true…..the brain can be re-programmed or re-wired in just 21 days…..
I also agree good replacement behavior….. replacing a bad habit with another ” good ” or healthy habit.