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Tips on how to break a habit

How to break a habit? That is a question that I have been very interested in for as long as I can remember.

Breaking a long term habit is very difficult to do especially if you rely on willpower alone. As explored in the habit formation section, habits are behaviors that are often repeated which as a result of that, builds strong neurological connections.

These neurological connections are patterns that have been engraved into the brain and nervous system. The more a habit is repeated, the stronger the neural connection becomes which means the deeper a pattern is engraved.

Here are some tips on how to break a habit and the neural connections that are associated to it.

Take up the 30 day challenge

If you exercise regularly for 5 days a week, but then stopped doing it completely for a few months, what will happen to your muscles? It will definitely become weaker and smaller. It is the same with habits. If you stop doing a habit for some time, your inclination to engage in the habit will become weaker and weaker.

Experts claimed that complete abstinence of a habit for 21 to 30 days will be enough to break it. So, you don’t have to worry about having to continuously struggle to not indulge in a habit for the rest of your life. After 21 to 30 days, you would have surpassed the required threshold.

What you need to do is challenge yourself to keep away from that habit for 30 days. Take up the 30 day challenge and see through it. Go through 30 consecutive days and start back at day 1 if at any time you fail to go through the full 30 days.

Make this your personal challenge which defines the person that you are.

Set constant reminders

When we are busy and caught up in the various happenings in our daily lives, it is easy to ‘forget’ to stop ourselves from doing a bad habit. This is why it is a great idea to have reminders to help remind us.

A reminder is just something that can remind you to not indulge in a habit. For example, you can tie a rubber band around your wrist and use it as a reminder. Anytime you see or feel the rubber band, you will be reminded not to do the habit.

Anything can be used as a reminder, as long as it is something that you will notice/use on a regular basis such as a clock, watch, keys, cell phone, reminder cards, posters etc.

Whenever setting reminders, you must associate the reminder with the habit first. Create a link between the object and the habit such as a story or sequence of reactions linking both the reminder object and the habit.

For example, say you plan to use a friend as a reminder so that anytime you are near him or her, you will be reminded not to do the habit. To link, you can visualize your friend becoming hysterical or feeling offended when he sees you doing the habit. That makes it more memorable.

For better effect, ensure that the story/visualization/link is memorable and impactful, and not an occurrence that happens regularly.

Use affirmations

Write a paragraph describing the kind of person you would like to be. The ‘new’ you who no longer indulges in the bad habit and instead has a new empowering habit. Write out how this ‘new’ you would respond when faced with the same temptations and situations that would normally result in you doing the old bad habit.

Then everyday do affirmations on that paragraph and read it out loudly in front of the mirror. As you do that, visualize yourself becoming that new person. See how you would respond and handle situations differently. Practice this daily and feel yourself becoming that ‘new’ you.

Read on to the next page on to learn more tips on how to break a habit.

Continue to How To Break A Habit Part 2.

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