Feeling trapped by a bad habit? Struggling to break it no matter how many apps, techniques, and strategies you use?
Breaking bad habits can definitely be an uphill battle. You’re forcing your brain to completely rewire an old pattern—and our brains honestly don’t want to do that! Our minds don’t like change, they like sticking with what works…even if “what works” isn’t all that great.
Fortunately, there’s a way around this mental resistance. One little trick we can use to train our brains to release an old habit and replace it with something far more loving. Read on to discover what it is. <3
Why Bad Habits Stick
I’m sure you’ve noticed you can’t just will a bad habit out of existence. You have to try really really hard to resist the urge to act on it. You have to stay extra mindful of the times when you’re stressed, since that’s prime time to fall back into old habits.
Why is breaking bad habits such a challenge? Because every single habit fulfills a certain emotional need. It might not do a great job at that—but it’s still why the habit exists. Your needs must be met in some way. These habits are a way of doing that.
For instance, an addiction might meet the need of escaping from emotional pain.
A habit of angrily lashing out might meet the need of protecting yourself from being hurt in a relationship.
The habit of procrastination might protect you from exhausting yourself with work.
Every single habit, good or bad, does something that tries to help us. It’s either an emotional protector, something that keeps the status quo, or something that stops us from facing emotional harm. In the case of bad habits, they just happen to also cause emotional harm too.
How to Being Breaking Bad Habits with this New Knowledge
Once you understand that all habits fulfill a need, it becomes much easier to break that habit. Because, well, you understand: you can’t just erase a habit. You need to form a new behavioral pattern to fulfill the same need that bad habit was trying to.
So, that habit of angrily lashing out? You can replace it with healthy boundary setting skills.
That addiction which helps you escape tough emotions? You can replace it with soothing self care.
That procrastination? Breaking that bad habit happens when you find healthier ways to sustain your energy at work, or you stop overworking yourself. (You can also change what needs you have and that can stop a bad habit.)
Every bad habit is meeting some emotional need—so once you discover what that need is, you can replace it with a healthier habit. That’s the first step: understand what need the bad habit is meeting.
(If you struggle with this, join The Prosperity Path program here! You’ll know exactly what your emotional needs are after you complete Module 4.)
Brainstorming the Right Replacement Habit
Take some time to reflect on what need your bad habit is fulfilling. What emotion does it soften? What way does it relax you? How is it trying to protect you? What belief does it maintain?
Make sure you don’t shame yourself for having this habit. This behavior was the easiest way your mind could meet that emotional need—and that’s not a bad thing! It’s natural adaptive behavior.
You’re just deciding you want something different now. Something that meets that need, without any negative consequences.
So, once you know the need your bad habit was fulfilling, list a few ideas of how that need could be met in a different way. What are some other ways you can prevent with fatigue at work? Cope with heavy emotions? Also consider if there are ways you could stop that need from existing—like cutting back on work hours to prevent fatigue.
Create a list of at least ten ideas, as this will get you really brainstorming. Then, look back at that list and pick the easiest behavior to replace your bad habit with. It doesn’t need to be fantastic. Even something a little better is a great step towards healing!
This is my challenge to you for today. Do this exercise about one habit you want to break—then pick a replacement habit. Aim to do this every time you feel the urge to act on your old habit. You’ll find it’s much easier to start breaking bad habits!
Bonus if you leave a comment with what habit you’re breaking, and need that habit fulfills, and what you’re replacing the old habit with too. This is a great way to start the process of breaking bad habits.