3 simple and effective tricks to break your bad habits

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People often come to see me as a coach and hypnotherapist to help them break habits; whether it’s smoking, over indulging in alcohol at the weekends, having an addiction to sugar or even the after-dinner munchies.

Your subconscious mind likes to create short cuts

Your mind is super clever, and is always looking for short cuts. Can you imagine how much time and energy it would take to consciously drive your car or even just brush your teeth in the morning? Every single actioned would be conscious and deliberate. It would take aaaaaageeeesss! And of course, we don’t do this, we switch on auto-pilot.

That’s how the human mind works, it looks to create automated ‘programs’ that we don’t need to consciously think about. This in turn frees our brain up to do other important stuff. We’re evolutionary wired this way for survival.

How to re-wire the programs and break your bad habits

A habit is a default program for something, therefore we need to re-wire that program to one which is more helpful to you. So here are 3 tricks I teach my clients to help break bad habits.

Trick 1: Change up your routine.

Do you sit in the same seat each night for dinner? Do you have a set task you do before you go for that cigarette? Do you drive home the same way every night after work? Our aim is to make your subconscious mind go ‘hang on a minute, this is different from yesterday!’.

We want to put a glitch in the system. By changing your routine, it signals to your mind that something is different. Sitting in a different chair having dinner may sound simple (and it is!), but suddenly we’re creating a new program.

So, what can you change in your current routine?

Trick 2: Find out the habits’ positive intention?

Every action on some level has a positive intention. You’ll have to trust me on this.

Let me ask you, what is the positive intention behind your bad habit? If it’s eating chocolate or drinking wine as soon as you come through the door, then what are these doing for you? Could they be helping you to relax, taking your mind off work or giving you comfort? Think about the intention and then ask yourself what else could do to satisfy the same need? How else could you give yourself comfort? How else can you manage your stress?

Trick 3: Set up a new cue and reward

We can consciously create new habits by understanding how habits are formed. Over time these new choices become part of your routine and you don’t give them a second thought! Habits are formed in 3 steps:

  • The Cue. The cue is what will trigger your new behaviour. This could be a visual cue such as placing your running shoes by the front door or leaving a water bottle on your desk.
  • The Routine: This is focused on the action you will take when you see your cue. This could be going out for a 20mins walk, drinking more water, or buying your groceries on the way home from work!
  • The Reward. This is the benefit you will get from doing your new habit. If the reward is positive, then you’ll have a deeper desire to repeat the action when the cue pops up! Eventually this repetition is what forms new habits. Examples of rewards include feeling energised from a gym session, or more tangible such as buying yourself a new glass water bottle to drink from or saving up for a weekend away.

I wonder what habit you’re on a mission to break, and which of the above tricks you’re going to try first?