When most people search for advice regarding quitting a habit, it’s because that pattern has begun to interfere with the life they’d like to live. While not all habits are harmful, such as regular exercise or meditating, some keep us from reaching our potential, such as drug use or gambling.
It’s essential to consider “too much of a good thing,” primarily when discussing positive habits. Yes, running five miles often is a good habit, but doing it daily can cause too much wear and tear on your body.
There are ways to quit any habit, regardless if they’re socially considered “good” or “bad.” It all begins with determining if you have a habit, and you can do so by answering a few questions truthfully, remembering that there’s no reason to lie to yourself. You are the only one who can change you.
If you’ve begun worrying about whether you have a habit, you might. When we start worrying about doing something too much, it’s usually because we think we are. So, how can you identify if you have a habit? Well, it’s easier when that habit is labeled a “bad” habit because those habits are socially unacceptable. However, it might be harder to identify if you struggle with a habit (or addiction) like shopping.
Here are some questions to ask yourself. Be honest when you answer them.
How often are you using or doing more than the average? Do you find yourself in control of your decisions regarding this habit and how often you indulge, or are you letting your brain chemicals and responses take over?
Addiction is a terrible thing, but it doesn’t come only in the form of hard drugs or placing daily bets. People can become addicted to anything, including gaming, food, and exercising. Everyday things can become addicting, so if you’re over-indulging, it’s time to take a step back and observe.
Are there certain people, places, or activities you associate with your potential habit? Do these places, people, or things make you feel like you should indulge in that habit whenever you’re around them?
For example, do you need a cigarette after every meal or take a coffee break? If specific aspects of your life insist that you crave a habit, it’s because you’re over-indulging. For example, someone with a food addiction might call a friend with that same addiction to meet up because they know that person means food and the chance to abandon without judgment.
Think about the habit you’re worried about, and now think about when you tend to reach for that habit. Does it have anything to do with your emotional state or stress levels?
Food, gambling, drugs, shopping, and sex are all common addictions that assist us in dealing with emotions or stress that we’re not quite ready to confront. We’re creating a false sense of control and security by focusing our attention elsewhere.
START is an acronym that can help you quit any habit causing interference in your life. It helps those with addictive tendencies set a quit date, tell family and friends, anticipate challenges, remove temptations, and talk to a doctor. Let’s go through the steps in detail.
Setting a quit date gives you back some of the power you’ve lost to your addiction or bad habit. You can look your habit in the face and tell it that this is the date you intend to quit. It is incredibly motivating, and it provides a goal to stick to when times get tough, which they will. If eliminating bad habits were easy, everyone would do it.
Telling your family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit your habit is a great way to provide yourself with accountability. They’ll be there to remind you that you’ve decided to move on from your bad habits and why you made that decision in the first place. Also, telling people can be very therapeutic all on its own.
As we’ve already mentioned, quitting any habit is challenging, and it’s rarely just an act of willpower, as our brains become accustomed to acting characteristically. To actively quit a habit, you must plan for the challenges ahead. You’ll have to face them regardless, so you might as well be prepared.
Temptation is different for everyone because we all suffer from varying habits, and it’s unlikely to have the same triggers and temptations as another person. You can start by working with a therapist to identify your catalysts and then remove them from your home, office, car, and wherever else you spend ample time.
Removing temptation is a crucial component, and it’s not always easy. Sometimes, the worst temptations in our lives are the people we love, primarily if we have a toxic, addiction-based relationship with a significant other or even a parent. All situations are different.
Talking with your doctor about securing help in battling your addiction will put plenty of support behind you while informing someone you trust that you’re suffering. For example, if you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, your doctor can provide you with a prescription to battle withdrawal symptoms and make the process more bearable.
Healing from bad habits or addiction can often feel like you’re starting your life over from scratch. It’s a lot like re-learning how to live, and it’s typically a lot harder than it was the first time around.
Life after bad habits and addiction is incredibly freeing. From eliminating triggers to learning how to trust yourself, the process is as beautiful as you make it. There will be excruciating moments along the way and even times of regression, but those who persevere always come out on top.
If you have a habit that’s causing you concern, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Trust us when we say that life is so much better when you aren’t living in the shadow of addiction.