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Breaking a Nasty Habit: 10 Observations

How to Break a Habit

“Okay, I quit smoking. Yes, I’ll live a little longer. But being smoke-free is driving me mad. What’s the point?”

Our brand-spankin’-new non-smoker sure isn’t at peace with his decision, is he?

If you ask me, “the point” is simple. He decided to quit smoking, and did. So he needs to get back in touch with the reasoning behind his decision, recommit, look forward to some cool outcomes, stop complaining, and get on with it.

We’re Human, We Do Habits…

“Habit is a man’s sole comfort. We dislike doing without even unpleasant things to which we have become accustomed.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Habits are just another part of human nature. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Over thousands of years they’ve become useful – necessary. And that’s because they provide a safety net.

The fact that we continue to do things seemingly without thinking ensures they aren’t forgotten – and get done. And from a survival standpoint, that’s plenty important.

Of course, we often fall prey to habits unintentionally. That’s where phenomena like addiction and dependence come into play.

10 Observations on Breaking a Nasty Habit

I spent a couple of days thinking about this breaking nasty habits business. Here are 10 random observations…

  1. The nasty habit – and decision to break it – is yours. Those with whom you come into contact don’t deserve to be the recipient of any negative fallout. Own it and deal with it.
  2. Bad habits often mask internal conflict and pain. With the disguise removed, you’d be wise to do some digging. What an opportunity!
  3. How often have you thought about how and why you get involved with bad habits in the first place?
  4. Watch out! It’s prime-time to be stung by a replacement nasty habit.
  5. You’re a neophyte to change. Take it slow, do some learning. Enjoy the scenery.
  6. Substitution = Survival! How can you expect to permanently remove something unpleasant from your life if you don’t come up with a healthy replacement? (Review #4)
  7. Breaking the nasty habit – and adopting healthy replacement behavior – is the ultimate exercise in rational thinking and action. Feel good about it. Expand it.
  8. When you’re having a tough time hanging on, remember the very worst of the nasty-habit-times – coughing, smelling bad, hangovers, health issues, negative social consequences, etc.
  9. What’s the true motivation behind breaking the bad habit?
  10. How can you ensure this is a multi-faceted life-changing experience?

A Quick Story & The Wrap

I’ve shared this story previously on chipur – but I have to toss it in again.

Just about 27 years ago I was sitting at one of my first A.A. tables. It was in the midst of the holiday season and I’d quit drinking just a few weeks prior.

It was my turn to share and I began by whining over the fact that I couldn’t clink a few glasses during the holidays. The woman sitting next to me was an A.A. veteran. She provided the very best perspective and medicine by saying, “Tough sh_ _, you can’t.”

Hmmm, seems as though she was saying…

“He decided to quit drinking, and did. So he needs to get back in touch with the reasoning behind his decision, recommit, look forward to some cool outcomes, stop complaining, and get on with it.”

(Didn’t I just read that somewhere?)

Ah, those nasty habits! And breaking them…