Most of us have had the experience of trying to break a “bad” habit but I wonder how many of us have had the experience of succeeding. We start with the best of intentions but soon find ourselves lapsing into old ways and, often, we end up feeling worse about the situation because now, not only do we have the “bad” habit but we’ve also failed at trying to change it. Trying to break a habit always has an element of force to it and, let’s face it, we don’t like to be forced to do anything so, sooner or later we are likely to rebel.
When I’ve wanted to change a habit I have found a much more successful way to approach it is to replace what I want to change with something better. “Bad” habits are formed because they serve us in some way. So, for example, I regularly fall into the habit of eating more refined sugar than is good for me. This takes the form of cakes or chocolate in the afternoon and then again after dinner. Partly, I think this is an energy thing and also a reward thing. I like cakes and chocolate.
When I label this habit as bad, and then try and give up the cakes and chocolate I’ve found that I end up feeling deprived and don’t succeed. But, in the times I’ve changed my focus from stopping eating cakes to eating 5 pieces of fruit a day before I eat cakes or chocolate, I’ve found that I’ve succeeded in cutting down and then eventually cutting out these foods. The fruit takes care of the energy side of things and allowing myself the option of eating cakes and chocolate should I so desire, albeit after the fruit, takes care of the reward side of things.
This video show’s a great example of how to change undesirable behaviour with something better by changing the focus to something fun that will replace it.