We all have destructive habits that we’d like to leave behind. Unfortunately, bad behaviors and destructive tendencies are mostly addictions that are difficult to quit. If you’re struggling with a bad habit, you’re not alone. Dealing with self-defeating behaviors is a universal human challenge. However, this doesn’t mean your situation can’t be salvaged.
There are numerous practical ways of dealing with seemingly unavoidable bad habits. In this post, I’ll take you through tried and tested ways of combating habits that keep you from living your dream life.
What are Destructive Habits?
Repetitive action and consistent practice of behavioral patterns breed habits. Some habits we adopt have a net negative effect on our livelihoods and sometimes affect those around us. Such tendencies are damaging not only to us and our loved ones but also those who interact with us. Smoking, binge shopping, overeating, drunkenness, and overindulgence are only a few of the most damaging habits we struggle with.
Any activity that you engage in convulsively and that eventually impacts your life negatively is detrimental to your happiness. Why, then, is it so hard to simply stop engaging in harmful practices?
Most destructive habits we engage in give us instant gratification or comfort. Thus, we often feel like we’re giving ourselves a gift that we badly need. Before we realize, we’ve nurtured prejudicial tendencies that rob us of our deserved value in life.
How can you Curb Damaging Habits?
Trying to kick out damaging habits is an uphill battle for most people. This isn’t because they’re unaware of the consequences of their continued indulgence in the ill practices. Rather, it’s because the human brain and body are wired to follow previously learned and practiced behavioral patterns. That’s why we often slip and revert to our old rotten ways in our quest to throw out bad habits.
Nonetheless, there are numerous actionable steps you can take to help you evade damaging habits. Here are some of them:
1. Take responsibility for the damaging habits in your life
Let’s face it: the truth hurts! And the truth is that in most cases, we are directly responsible for the hurtful habits we have developed. According to Rhonda Byrne in The Secret, thinking about and engaging in certain activities repeatedly offsets similar happenings in our future. Accepting that the fault is our own is the first positive step towards healing.
Acknowledging that you are the cause of your mess helps you realize that you have the power of control over your life. This way, you can cultivate empowering habits to replace your old damaging ones. Consequently, you transition from being a helpless victim of circumstance to a purposeful creator of your desired life.
2. Identify what triggers your ill habits
What sets off your damaging behavior patterns? Knowing precisely what drives you to engage in unhealthy habits can enable you to forestall these engagements. Identify all the stimulants and develop a coping strategy beforehand to help you resist the urge when it hits.
3. Feel the pinch of your destructive habits
Success is very uncomfortable; you have to get out of your comfort zone if you’re ever going to succeed in eliminating harmful behaviors from your life. Seeing other people face the detriments of their damaging habits can motivate you to abstain from similar habits.
However, sometimes we need to be in that painful position to learn the consequences first-hand. A major challenge most people face while trying to make lifestyle adjustments is avoiding thinking about the problem at hand because it’s painful and scary. As a result, they distract themselves from the real problem and give it space and time to build into a monumental crisis.
If you truly desire to change your bad habits, you must face them head-on and allow yourself to feel the pain tad discomfort hey cause you. Taking a critical look at the devastating effects of your bad behaviors will make you uncomfortable enough to want positive change.
4. Tackle the root cause of your problem
Oftentimes, self-abusive habits stem from escapism. Therefore, you must take a keen look into your life to identify exactly what issues you haven’t dealt with- those you keep running away from. It could be an unhealthy relationship, self-esteem issues, poor performance in school or at work, or you may be harboring wounds inflicted by a failed marriage.
Whatever causes your pain, identifying and tackling its root cause will help you realize faster and more sustainable healing from your bad habits. Don’t charge blindly into the problem by trying to solve it using sheer willpower alone as this will most likely frustrate you. Learning more about your problem, its causes, and ways of tackling it ease the transition process.
5. Devise and commit to a practical action plan
How exactly are you going to approach the monumental task of shedding those harmful behaviors? You need an actionable strategy. It’s OK to be ambitious, but strive to strip your approach to actionable options.
One practical approach is to associate your destructive habits with pain or other negative consequences. Then, train yourself to think of these painful and uncomfortable outcomes whenever you feel the urge to engage in bad habits. The mere thought of suffering the negative consequences will be a sufficient wake-up call. With time, your mind and body will learn to disregard destructive tendencies as viable ways of life.
Another viable strategy is to replace bad habits with their opposites. This helps you to fill the vacuum that would have been left if you only quit doing some things you were used to. This way, your body and mind won’t have space and time to indulge in the same or similar detrimental practices to those you’re trying to kick out.
Commit yourself Big Time! Be All-In! A decisive mind enables the body to stick to the set recovery path even when the going gets tough. There are numerous ways to go about this. For instance, you can make a public announcement about it, make a pledge to a trusted friend, or commit to an embarrassing consequence if you fail. You can even wager something really valuable so that you can stay motivated to walk the recovery path regardless of the sting it causes.
While your commitment should be BIG, you should execute small changes bit by bit till you can curb all the self-demeaning traits from your lifestyle.
Some people find it easier and more effective to eliminate many related destructive habits at a go. Self-destructive tendencies breed and support more of their kind. In this light, you may end up developing another ill habit in your quest to drive out an existing one. If you’re strong-willed, you can opt to face all the withdrawal symptoms of quitting many addictions in one go instead of battling each at a time.
6. Find support
When trying to break a bad habit, the input and encouragement from caring family members, trusted friends, or a support group are invaluable. Sharing your struggles and aspirations with supportive people is a good way to have them hold you accountable for your actions. They can also be sources of motivation, wisdom, and critique you badly need to stay on your path to recovery.
7. Ignore negative talk (both internal and external)
Breaking destructive behaviors is hard, and negative talk only makes it harder. In this quest, you’ll experience bouts of negative self-talk and criticism from others. Listen to these talks, but don’t take them to heart. Instead, interpret them as responses and reactions of your brain as it tries to come out of a demanding challenge.
Identifying and altering negative thought patterns and talk is crucial to help you veer away from bad habits. Whenever you face a negativity attack, stop yourself from believing it and re-phase it into a positive remark. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m stupid and weak, I can’t do this”, switch to “I feel weak and overwhelmed right now, but I can and will push through this challenge victoriously”.
8. Let your failure teach you a more effective strategy to tackle your problem
Your way of handling failure in your quest to eradicate destructive habits determines the outcome. We all fail sometimes, so you’ll probably slip from the right track once in a while. Rather than beat yourself up about it, use your failure as an opportunity to learn new and better ways to deal with your problem.
Failure should help you identify the reasons you engage in damaging practices against your better judgment. Although coming across obstacles is inevitable, failure enables you to realize and devise better approaches to these hardships.
9. Celebrate yourself for every small and big win
Motivation works way better than criticism in fueling your quest to drive out harmful behavioral tendencies. That’s why you should celebrate yourself for every milestone you win in this tough battle. This will not only flood you with the joy of self-actualization but also re-energize you to face the next challenge with loads of courage and optimism.
There are many ways to celebrate yourself- you can go for a massage, buy yourself a beautiful gift, go out on a picnic or small vacation, or simply pat yourself. Be careful not to indulge in another destructive habit in the name of congratulating yourself as this beats the importance of the whole process.
Pro Tip: Stepping out of the shadows of damaging habits is a tasking undertaking. Many people have tried to eradicate addictions without success. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t dim your hopes as this post has your back every step of your journey.
Bad habits are detrimental in many ways: they not only deprive you of your happiness but can also veer you away from the life you have always wanted. Besides, they have a net negative impact on the relationships you have with family, friends, and colleagues. This post outlines 9 practical approaches to kick out harmful habits from your life completely.