- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How To Quit A Bad Habit
If you want to quit a bad habit, you are bound to fail.
If you want to quit a bad habit, you are bound to fail. Your mind, if it’s similar to most minds, is programmed to build up habits, and not to change old ones. Trying hard not to do something only reminds us of the very activity that we are struggling to give up. We should give ourselves positive actions, rather than negative steps, to follow. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Then, some of you might say, “wait. It all sounds good, but, why should I listen to you?” The reason is not that I am a doctor, even though some might think doctors know about this kind of problems. It’s not that I hold a Master’s degree in Health Management either. Even though the name of the degree was suggestive, it had nothing to do with managing health. It could have been better named Master in Health Organization Management. My response is: you have to listen to me because of the simple reasons that
1. I have been there and done that and
2. I wish that you can also do it.
If you can do the same using the hints that I am about to share, come back and leave me a comment. That will make me very happy indeed and make everything worthwhile.
Before you read on, you might be interested in my credentials. Here they are:
I was once smoking, not any more.
I was once drinking, not any more.
I once weighed 210 pounds, now I weigh 159.
I hardly moved, now I do marathons.
For years, I was taking sleeping pills, not any more.
I was a workaholic, now you can see me spending time writing all these hubs and doing other things outside my working life.
I know I haven’t quite made it there yet. I am trying hard to live a sensible life but:
I often put my better senses aside and invest in things I don’t fully understand.
I still go through red lights and do illegal U-turns.
I still shout at my children and tell them to get out of my way, more often in my head, but sometimes even verbally.
I still use people to get me things rather than the other way round.
I still put off my tasks till tomorrow.
I still scratch my toes when no one’s looking (Did I hear someone ask whether I still pick my nose? No, I have recently stopped that. How I did it will be another story).
I'd better stop before you get to see me bare everything. Nonetheless, I think I have made my point. I am interested in having more and more good habits and fewer and fewer bad ones as times go by. I have managed to do just that and will keep on doing it. I know you can too. Too good to be true? No, it’s not. You will be guessing what I’d be saying next. No, I am not asking you to cry your heart out and repent your sins. Neither am I directing you to my Twenty-five dollar best-seller on "How to change your life in 30 minutes". It has not been written yet. Even if it has been written, I will have it free for download for a limited time, here at hubpages. I am not asking you to pay $250 to hear me speak in person or $500 to do my e-course in “Life transformation” either. If you don’t click any ads on this hub, my advice is absolutely free. Please don’t click any ads, I need your total attention. I might acquire my “Anthony Robbins of the East” status any time now and then you might see me making you pay left, right and center for my advice. So mop up these useful hints while they’re still free.
In my experience, to do something well and succeed, one needs to follow positive commands and fuel the action with positive reinforcement. In other words, we need to acknowledge ourselves for achieving certain tasks. A sense of achievement will get us much farther than a reward in the form of food, alcohol, a new pair of shoes, a new dress, a diamond ring, a kiss or even sexual favor. (Hands up those who never check their hubscores. Now hands up those who check them everyday. See? We do care about how we are achieving.) We need to return to the way we learned in kindergarten or primary school where tasks were achievable and lead you to the next. We need to be doing right, feeling great, doing better, feeling better and on it goes.
To quit a bad habit, you must feel that you are in positive control of your life. You have to think of yourself as being a much bigger and better person than the habit. Of course, you are. You were once again that young person who was not smoking, nor drinking, nor binge-eating, nor afraid to change. You were actually busy learning one thing or another: to play basketball, to do your mathematics, to read, to talk to girls (or boys) intelligently, kindly or humorously, so that they would find you attractive. Then you were not feeling so certain about yourself. You wanted a booster to help you look mature, or seasoned, or even bad. You might be smoking to dampen the boredom or frustration that you were not doing too well. The cigarette was but a proxy of the real thing. You might also be drinking to help relieve the stress. Return to the drawing board. Don't pretend to be mature, or in control, or sophisticated. Be the real achiever who tries to be mature, to stay in control and remain sensible. The achiever is not the person who has achieved everything he wants. He (she) is simply the one who keeps trying and congratulates himself (herself) on not giving up.
Start with something small:
smile to the people you meet
hold the door or lift open
say "good morning" or "how are you" heartily,
stop watching sick TV programs or movies (unfortunately, that might mean all programs or movies)
read something positive everyday
say thank you to your spouse or co-workers
go jogging or fast-walking
choose a worthy charity and decide how you can help
turn off your lights and go to bed at 11 pm (don't forget to kiss your partner)
wake up at 7am, smiling
turn up at work on time with well-groomed hair and smell good if possible
When ready, move on to something even more positive:
Start exercising regularly.
Learn to write or draw or paint or sing or ski or do whatever that thrills you
Try to make the world a better place, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
Help the person in need you happen to meet or learn about today.
Start to execute your ideas to improve your community.
Share your time, skills or experience with the people who need them (that’s exactly what writing this hub is about).
Coach the school basket ball or swimming or writing or singing or dancing or whatever-ing group.
You are still allowed to engage in your bad habit once in a while (provided it’s not slashing throats or bombing buildings, etc) after doing all the things above. It is important that you realize you are not any less worthy smoking that cigarette, or having that drink or dessert (not that I advise it). You simply don't get the kick out of it as before. Besides, the bad habit somehow doesn’t go along well with the better person you are becoming.
That’s the secret I am sharing with you: forget about quitting that bad habit. Be a better person. If you only concentrate on quitting the bad habit, you will either succeed or fail. But when you concentrate on becoming a better person, you will always do better than when you began. More often than not, having successfully quitted the bad habit as well, is a bonus.
(This hub is a completely rewritten article based on an earlier article “How to stop smoking” I published on healthmad.com)