I’ve patiently waited three months to write this series. That’s how long ago I finally stopped drinking diet coke, a daily bad habit I’d had for more than 20 years. Twenty years! Erk!
Let me tell you, bad habits are haaaaaard to break. I know this because in my time I’ve kicked a few doozies: smoking a pack a day for more than 10 years and binge drinking being two of my big ones. I gotta say, giving up the diet coke was easily as hard as giving up smoking. Crazy, but true.
So how do you break a habit and, most importantly, stay broken up? I’ve created a (probably too comprehensive, but, let’s face it, habit’s are complex!) step-by-step plan around how I kicked both smoking and diet coke. The same plan I am currently following in my latest bad habit busting attempt: rampant night snacking.
Today we’ll start with Step 1 and I’ll publish the next step in the ‘program’ tomorrow and then each day thereafter. By the end of the week, you’ll hopefully be well on your way to punching your own bad habit out of the ring.
What kind of habits are we talking about?
Oooh, so many. We all have our vices, it’s just that some vices are more obvious than others. Here’s a list of some of the things that I reckon this program can help you with:
- Eating the wrong foods
- Drinking too much
- Skipping breakfast
- Skipping exercise
- Using the car for very short drives
- Comparing yourself to others
- Yelling at the kids
- Biting your fingernails
- Excess caffeine
- Making promises you don’t keep
- Watching too much television
- Constantly checking Facebook
- Over-sharing on Insta
- Road rage
- Skipping personal grooming
Oh my goodness we’re a depraved lot, aren’t we? Your bad habit might not even be on the list.
Wish me luck with my night snacking (I’m already up to day 19, but I’m going to have to go back in for another 21 days for sure!) and let me know in the comments if you want to join me in breaking a habit so we can support each other through it.
How to break a bad habit
Step 1. You’ve gotta know your why
There are habits that we have that are physically addictive and there are habits that are emotionally addictive. Many habits have a little bit of both going on. Now, regardless of the physicality of an addiction (think headaches, and the general soul itchiness that cravings like nicotine, caffeine, etc bring on ), there is definitely a whole lot of emotional attachment going on in any addiction. Have a good look at what you’re stuck on and ask yourself why you’re stuck on it. What place does it fill in your life?
Like, I always knew that pouring all those diet coke chemicals down my throat each day wasn’t good for me. How on earth could it be? But over time I guess the caffeine hit and sweet sugar-but-not-sugar hit plus the associations I had about diet coke being the key to keeping my weight down (associations that weirdly stuck, despite my weight doing nothing of the sort), well, these rewards just cancelled out the knowledge that dc was really, really bad for me.
Every habit, no matter what it is or how much you think you hate it, is rewarding you somehow. Maybe it’s filling an emotional neediness, maybe it’s comforting you, entertaining you, distracting you, satisfying you, encouraging you. Maybe it’s even helping you create your own kind of reality.
Whatever your habit is doing you like it very much.
Homework for today
Take some time today to figure out what you’re getting out of your habit: what’s making your bad habit so good?Don’t fret if it doesn’t come to you straightaway. It took me a very long time to work out that overeating is a form of ‘reward’ for me. I feel like I’m so busy pleasing everyone else for the majority of the day that when the day is done I ‘deserve’ a reward. And sadly food is currently it… but not for long.
What’s makes your bad habit so good?