They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but if you use the right tricks, you can increase your chances of turning around any bad habit or addiction. Researchers have put together some pretty helpful tools to put a new spin on old habits. However, the best tricks will always be determination, commitment, and a driving reason to embark upon a different destiny. Let’s look at the proven steps for removing temptation, and creating a better path in your (or anyone else’s) life.
Make a Commitment
They say that admitting your problems is the first step. However, making a commitment to fix them, is perhaps the most important. Making a plan, setting small, specific, achievable goals, and not getting upset if you slip every now and then are very effective techniques. However, if you do happen to fall off the wagon, don’t go rolling in the mud, figuring you might as well enjoy yourself since the damage has already been done. If you eat a jelly doughnut, let it be, perhaps you earned it. Conversely, eating five doughnuts, and passing it off as having already ruined your day, is just an excuse to fall back into old habits. This will only make it more difficult to resist the next time.
Find Out What Got You Into the Habit in the First Place
It is hard to understand why you do the things that you do, unless you ask yourself, Why am I being self-destructive with my own life? The reasons could range from a legitimate addiction, to a self-hate that is subconsciously trying to sabotage your happiness because you don’t think you deserve it. Regardless of what the answer is, your action should almost always be the same, and that is to practice loving, and doing right by yourself.
Face Reality, It’s Going to be Hard
One of the worst things some fly-by-night programs have done, is convince people that change is as simple as reading one article, or taking a pill. I’m not going to lie to you. The body grows comfortable with what it’s been doing, and leading it to a new path is going to be damn tough. The important thing is that you are honest with yourself about that. Studies show that when you’re realistic with the difficulty of a task, you will put in more effort, persist longer, have more patience, and forgive yourself for any momentary setbacks.
Get Plenty of Sleep
When you’re tired or stressed, you are less likely to resist your greatest temptations. Research suggests that you only have so much willpower reserved each day, and if you weaken it by a lack of sleep, you will be twice as likely to lose self-control.
Join a Group Making the Same Change
There is strength in numbers. If you’re having a difficult time making a change, yourself, perhaps it’s time to ask for help. Many addiction groups mix successful addicts who have been dealing with the problem for years, with people who are just trying to regain control. This is because people gain inspiration from the success of others. In addition, by letting friends and family know your goals. They will be able to help you stay on track.
Create New Habits
One of the tricks to avoid a bad habit, it to distract your mind with other stimuli. This is a common practice in smokers who replace cigarettes with other oral fixations, such as chewing gum. However, be careful not to replace your habit, with an equally harmful addiction, such as overeating or tobacco chewing. Another benefit of most addiction programs, is they focus on making the structure of the program, just as habit forming as the addiction itself. This helps ensure you will stick to it over the long haul.
Monitor Your Habits With Ruthless Fervor
Out of sight, out of mind, does not always work, and with most habits, research suggests you are better off aggressively monitoring our actions, which means constantly reminding yourself not to fall back in your old ways. The body has a tendency to revert to habits when you are not diligently monitoring it.
Remove All Temptation
Research suggests that temptation (sex, affair, gambling, alcohol, etc.) is slightly different than a bad habit, in that by reminding yourself not to do something, you are constantly bringing the temptation to your attention. However, by removing the temptation, such as not walking by the bars on the way home, or avoiding hotels that offer gambling when on vacation, you can keep temptation off your mind. You can also replace temptation with distractions, such as hanging out with friends, or joining a support group.