Human beings are creatures of an extremely powerful force called habit. And this powerful force can be detrimental when the habits we form are negative, but can be our best friend if we know how to properly channel it.
When trying to change a habit, we can’t just decide that we wan't to get rid of it and think it will happen. Many have learned the hard way that habits stand their own even against a powerful will to change. In order to break a habit we need to understand how it works and plan accordingly.
When a habit emerges the brain stops fully participating in the decision making. It stops working so hard, diverting it's attention to other things. So unless you can somehow undo the habit- unless you find new routines- the pattern will unfold automatically.
Additionally, what needs to be understood is that every single feeling, no matter how small it is and even if it is forgotten by the conscious mind, always leaves some sort of impression on the memory. If one then experiences this feeling a second time, it combines with the original impression, thereby strengthening itself. Every time this feeling is experienced again, all the accumulated traces of the previous impressions combine with it. Over time, the most insignificant string of experiences can accumulate to become strong enough to overwhelm even a major experience.
So, without further ado, here are 9 suggestions, tools and mindsets to remember when trying to conquer a bad habit:
1. SHAKE OFF THE DUST… ARISE!
Your greatest struggles are an indication of your mission in this world. Even when you lose, you are doing more to perfect the world than someone who doesn’t struggle with it at all.
2. THE “PAINTED PICTURE”
How will life look without the behavior? What are the rewards of kicking the habit? Reframe from what you are trying not to do, to what you are trying to accomplish. Write down how it will look. Review it. Carry it with you.
3. IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGER AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW LOOP
What is the trigger? Be on guard. Replace your response with a healthier one that will lead to an even more satisfying reward.
4. DISRUPT YOUR PREVIOUS PATTERNS AND CREATE NEW ONES
Disrupt the way you normally do things. Change your location, your environment, your style. Create a new, very structured routine. Don’t break it until it is hardwired into your brain.
5. THE SECRET WEAPON- USE IMAGINATION TO CREATE NEW NEUROLOGICAL PATTERNS
Every morning and every night spend a few minutes playing out the situation in your head. Imagine yourself winning and being perfect. Then when you find yourself in the struggle, replay that mental image.
Noam Elimelech- At every moment that you are not engaged in Torah, especially when you are idle in a room by yourself or lying in bed unable to sleep, concentrate on fulfilling a positive commandment. God counts a thought as a deed and a result you are not idly sitting or lying, but fulfilling a commandment in the torah.
6. CREATE A SCORING SYSTEM WITH REWARDS AND INCENTIVES
Make it a game for yourself. Create a scorecard and when you hit X amount of victories treat yourself, spoil yourself with a reward!
7. TALK TO YOUR YETZER HARA (EVIL INCLINATION)
When the thought or impulse comes your way, actually talk out loud to it. Say, “Stop annoying me” “Not gonna do it” “Leave me alone”
8. CONFIDE IN A FRIEND
If it someone that you trust who can help you, work it through with them.
9. TALK TO GOD
You need his help and he wants to talk to you. So don’t be shy, don’t be ashamed and don’t think that your issues are too petty.