How to reverse bad habits?
People are creatures of habit. Our lives are filled with daily rituals that are set into motion as soon as we wake up.
Habits such as waking up at a certain time, brushing our teeth, getting dressed, taking medicine, making coffee, eating breakfast, going to the gym are all strongly engrained into our brains.
They make our lives really efficient because they are performed on auto-pilot leaving our brain time & energy to solve more complicated tasks at hand such as dealing with a screaming baby.
You realize how powerful habits are once you pull into your driveway from work without even remembering the actual drive.
We all have both good and bad habits. That's just our nature.
Today, I want to discuss, how you can start reversing some of your bad habits related to eating and drinking.
Before I tell you how to do it there are three absolutely necessary conditions for any successful habit reversal:
1. You need to be READY to make a change.
2. You need to be WILLING to make a change.
2. You need to be ABLE to make the change.
One of the worst habits, and hardest to break is the FOOD/DRINK = REWARD habit loop.
If we think rewarding food is a friend, we are likely to pursue it.
If we think it's an enemy, you will turn from it with distance.
Changing habits requires making a critical perceptual shift which behavioral psychologists call counterconditioning.
Our perception of the food stimulus directly influences our behavior in response to it.
So if our perception now is:
ICE CREAM = YUM, DELICIOUS, FUN
we need to be able to make a shift in our brains and start creating a new loop that looks more like this:
ICE CREAM = YUCKY, YUCKY, TOO MUCH SUGAR & FAT >> MAKES ME PUT ON WEIGHT, KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT
The goal is to extinguish the learned associations that encourage us to pursue a reward in the form of sugar, fat, and salt, and instead to develop a new associations that turn us away from them.
So how can we put this knowledge into practice?
6 steps to reversing bad habits:
Awareness - you first need to be aware of your bad habit, and have a conscious knowledge of all the triggers that are causing you to want to engage in a particular behavior.
Develop competing behaviors - to resist the pull of the behavior, you need to develop and learn alternative responses that are incompatible with it. To compete successfully with old habits, this new competing behavior needs to be planned before you encounter a cue and needs to be as rewarding as your previous behavior.
Think competing thoughts - you need to start formulating thoughts that compete with, and serve to quiet, the old ones. Instead of telling ourselves how good this donut is going to taste, we can start telling ourselves how yucky it is instead. Re-framing the situation is of utmost importance.
Find the right kind of support - your support system cannot work against you, endorsing the type of behavior you are trying to reverse. Especially in the beginning of the habit reversal process, stay away from anybody who can cause you to relapse. Don't worry it's only temporary, till you get comfortable with your new habits and no longer feel urges for the bad one.
Learn emotionally - you need to learning how to evaluate a familiar stimulus in a new way, developing negative associations. This goes back to developing that critical perceptual shift in your mind.
Practice practice practice!
Do you need help with getting rid of some of your worst habits?
Shoot me an e-mail I would love to help.