We all have some (or many) that we would like to get rid of.
There are loads of tips and tricks for breaking bad habits out there, and many of them are very effective.
However, there is a method that (I’d like to think I pioneered and) I find very effective for breaking… or rather ruining your bad habits.
This method is very effective because it’s much easier to stick with than quitting bad habits.
Why do we have bad habits?
The answer is quite simple.
Because those bad habits, whatever they may be, make us feel good, especially in the moment and the short term.
But the long-term impact is usually quite the opposite, though.
Those bad habits leave us feeling bad or guilty and usually have a long-term detrimental impact on some aspect of our lives or the lives of others.
But why are they so hard to break?
From a behavioural and psychological perspective, when you engage in your bad habit, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical in your brain that makes you feel pleasure, satisfaction, or motivation.
The kind of feeling when you eat pizza or cake or something else equally delicious.
This feeling is making you/your brain go: This is amazing. Let’s do it again soon.
And the more you engage and indulge in your bad habit, the more you train your brain to associate the bad habit with feeling good (even if you feel bad afterwards), and the more you’ll crave it in the future.
How do you ruin your bad habits?
The method of ruining your bad habits is quite simple.
But it requires a bit of preparation.
The main principle is this:
You can still “indulge” in your bad habit, but it must be in a (much) less enjoyable way.
By indulging in your bad habit but in a much less enjoyable way, you’ll start weakening the desire for the “thing” which will make it much more manageable, ideally to the point where you no longer look forward to it anymore… and then quitting is a “piece of cake” (pardon the pun).
Let me share a personal experience:
I “discovered” this method several years ago when I realised I got into a bad habit of having “something sweet” with my afternoon tea/coffee. That something sweet was usually a cake or cupcake.
Needless to say, it soon started showing on my weight.
I didn’t want to completely deprive myself of it as I enjoy something sweet with my tea or coffee, and going cold turkey (not as a dessert) would be hard and miserable.
Importantly, I wanted to find a way to get rid of the craving because my brain just learned that coffee/tea = Something deliciously sweet.
So I thought: What could I have with my tea that would “do the trick” but I would not enjoy as much.
I’m not crazy about chocolate and citrus flavours in deserts.
So I went to my local store and looked around. And there I saw it: Jaffa Cakes. Portioned biscuits with orange filling covered in chocolate. PERFECT!
I started having my afternoon tea/coffee with jaffa cakes.
And because I don’t like them that much, it was easy to have just one or two max (which is 46-92 kcal vs 350+ for a cake or muffin).
It worked like magic.
More importantly, because I was not crazy about having them, over time it eliminated my craving for something sweet with my tea/coffee. It weakened the association because I was no longer encouraging it.
I’ve successfully ruined my bad habit.
That is the main goal of this method. To weaken or break the association of your bad habit and dopamine release/feeling good.
This method works really well with “indulging” bad habits like food.
Below are a few examples of how you can ruin your various bad habits.
Bad habit: Biscuits?
Ruin your bad habit: Buy biscuits you don’t like very much.
Bad habit: Snacking on Cheddar?
Ruin your bad habit: Get blue cheese or some other kind that you don’t like as much.
Bad habit: Vaping or smoking too much?
Ruin your bad habit: Buy a flavour that you don’t like much.
Bad habit: Watching too many TV shows?
Ruin your bad habit: Start watching some you don’t find as interesting or entertaining.
Bad habit: Playing games on your phone?
Ruin your bad habit: Download and play less fun ones.
You get the idea.
The key is removing or restricting access to the original bad habit so that the less good option is the only one you have.
Well, there you have it.
This is my simple but powerful method of breaking (some of) your bad habits.
And if you think: But why would I indulge in something that I don’t enjoy as much?
First of all: Exactly!
Secondly: Do you want to get rid of your bad habits or not? 😂
I hope this helps