Habits are one of those crazy things you can suddenly feel compelled to pick up from another person, something that has sparked an interest for you, or even something you’ve held onto since childhood. We can embrace both good and bad habits – but I’m guessing that most people have more negatives habits lurking around. These are the most complex chains to break. They give us a sense of identity and allow us to play it safe. We may not even know the underlying reasons why, and this is where the journey of discovering your self comes into the picture.
Deciding to break a habit isn’t enough to stop the behaviour. If it were that easy, everyone would be skinny and rich! It takes time, commitment and dedication to move above and beyond the hold this habit has on you and your behaviour.
How long does it take?
You may be wondering how long it will take to break your habit. Well, it depends really, on what it is and how long you’ve had it. The more psychologically and physically attached we are to this habit, the harder it is. Even more so is when we associate pleasure with this habit. Those are the hardest to break. Let’s take my sugar addiction as an example. I was the kind of person who would have four sugars in my coffee several times a day. When 3 pm hit, I would be opening my desk draw, rummaging inside it to find something that contained sugar. I always needed a hit to get me through the afternoon and ready for dinner time. It was a vicious cycle, and I never once thought it was a bad thing at all. Luckily, when I started bodybuilding, I changed my diet completely. That didn’t come with setbacks. This sugar addiction had me in a lot of torment for about 6–9 months. But I stuck with it and kept fighting. That’s how long it took me to finally say that I wasn’t addicted to the white substance.
Research indicates that it takes about 21 days to break a habit for some people. It may take longer. As you can see from my example, it took several months to break that nasty habit. Breaking a bad habit is a personal factor.
Four ways to break your most dangerous habits
1.The stages of habit-breaking
As you would guess, breaking a habit involves conscious and consistent effort. There will be hard and easy times, depending on your moods and what’s going on in your life. Sometimes a habit is easily altered when you don’t have a choice in the matter. Let’s say you’ve got diabetes and have to change your diet, or else you suffer horrendous consequences. This is a forced habit because you innately want to have a good life that’s pain-free and where you don’t suffer.
Everyone becomes triggered by some form of pain or pleasure mechanism, depending on your personality. One very compelling reason why I chose to eliminate sugar from my diet was that I didn’t like the control factor sugar had on me. I felt that I had to eat this, and if I didn’t, it would do all sorts of negative things to my body and mind. I didn’t like or want anything to have that control over me. In retrospect, we should be able to make a decision based on our best interest. It doesn’t always work out that way – but it can if we choose to. I decided to cut the ties of hold sugar had on me.
2. Start small
If you have a habit that’s been conditioned for a long time, go easy on yourself. When it came to cutting sugar from my diet, I slowly cut back on the amount of sugar I had in my coffee until there wasn’t anything left to put in. At that stage, I would add stevia. I experimented with the best stevia I could find, and that helped.
I changed one thing at a time and made sure I followed through no matter what. Having several goals combined can cause that overwhelming feeling, and you set yourself up for failure.
3. Replacement behaviour
This can work in your favour – but sometimes it may not! For example, when I was cutting my sugar habit, I would use sugar-free alternative lollies. This just made it worse for me because the ingredients in this garbage are toxic! I would then become sick and have terrible digestion issues. Sometimes it’s best to replace a bad habit with something beneficial for you – not an artificial replacement. Instead of chewing on sugar-free items, have some herbal tea, give yourself a massage, or read your favourite book.
4. Learn to ignite your motivation
Thinking you should change something isn’t the same as finding a compelling reason why you need to change it. Increasing your motivation helps you ignite enthusiasm and drive to get the first few weeks of habit-changing into a successful routine. For instance, why are you changing a particular habit? Is it because you want the long term benefits? Is it that you need a different activity? What about getting a friend to be your support or mutual support buddies? When I started fasting, my best friend was ahead of me by one week. It was great to have a buddy to bounce ideas and questions off. We would go ahead and research the things that were challenging. Even now, we still mention different items to each other. I highly recommend having a buddy who’s going on the same journey as you.
What it all boils down to is making a positive change that will benefit your health. Whenever I think of it in that way, I feel a lot more enthusiastic about continuing along the journey – especially when things get tough. I do hope this has helped you. I would love you to upvote it if you did. Please also join me on my various social platforms and do go ahead and download your Empowering habit changer guide. I’m also on Instagram.