Bad HabitsVideo

How Bad Habits Develop Over Time

Most people decide to break a bad habit after getting a positive charge of motivation that motivates them in becoming a better person.

As a result of thinking that willpower and persistence are all needed to break a bad habit, people try to use them both to stop the habit, but they end up confused when they find themselves returning to the bad habit once again.

After people return to the bad habit once again, they blame their willpower because they don’t understand that there are many other psychological factors behind bad habits that are not by any means related to willpower.

Understanding the dynamics of bad habits

Do you know that sometimes a bad habit can be an unconscious declaration of defeat?
The person who fails to achieve a certain goal in life might give himself the unconscious permission to make the bad habit. The person thinks that his life is already going in the wrong direction and so it wouldn’t make a difference if something else went wrong.

This happens on the subconscious level so that the person never notices that the desire to make the habit was just a declaration of defeat and not a willpower issue.

Bad habits can also result from being unable to tolerate bad moods, wanting to escape, lacking control of one’s life, having emotional unmet needs, denying something that happened, or giving up your dreams.

People develop bad habits to cope with the unwanted emotions they have without being aware that their bad habits result from the lack of their coping abilities.

To break bad habits, they need to learn how to cope with life events that result in the emotional turmoil that forces them to make the bad habit.

A part of you wants the bad habit.

In many cases, a person can develop a bad habit because a part of him wants to make the habit. When both the subconscious mind and the conscious mind disagree, the subconscious mind usually wins.

In other words, sometimes, the subconscious mind feels like doing something that the conscious mind doesn’t want to do. In such a case, if the conscious resistance wasn’t extreme, then a bad habit could be developed.

In such a case understanding this unconscious desire is crucial if you want to break that habit.

Repetitive behavior turns into habits.

If a person repeated the same behavior repeatedly, it is very likely to turn into a bad habit. When a person keeps doing something repeatedly, certain neural pathways are activated in the brain, and thus it becomes much easier for the brain to do the same thing again.

This is why humans can learn and master new skills, which is also the same reason why some bad habits can be developed.

It might begin by trying something once, and as the person keeps repeating that thing, it turns into a habit.

Self-regulation issues

If a person doesn’t have strong self-regulation skills, he will be more likely to develop bad habits than others.

As soon as this person feels bad or distressed, he might search for the shortest possible path to change his mood, even if it was a dangerous one.

Substance dependency is one of the most popular types of bad habits that get developed due to a lack of self-regulation skills. A person who feels really bad but can’t control his emotions might run for drugs to feel good about himself.

Chemical addiction and bad habits

In many cases, a person gets addicted to the chemicals that bad habits produce in his brain and not to the habit itself. Porn addiction, for example, is a popular case where a person gets addicted to the dopamine produce by the brain as a person watches those porn images.

In other words, sometimes a person mistakenly believes he is addicted to something, whereas he is just addicted to the chemicals produced in the brain when that habit is made.

Psychological addiction and bad habits

In so many cases, the addiction to a bad habit is purely psychological. Even if the habit involves a real addictive substance such as the nicotine in a cigarette, many strong psychological forces can still make that addiction much stronger. For example, in smoking, the person can get addicted to the level of control the cigarette gives him as he repeats the same automatic movement repeatedly.

How to break bad habits

The only way to permanently break a bad habit is to understand why you are doing it. No, you aren’t smoking because you enjoy smoking, and you don’t binge because you love food, but certain psychological factors force you to make such bad habits.

Whenever you are about to make a bad habit, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I making this bad habit now?
  2. What am I trying to fix?
  3. What unmet need am I trying to fulfill?

After finding the answers to your questions, you should fight the real cause of the bad habit instead of using your willpower to break the bad habit itself because it’s just a symptom of the real cause.

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