How to Break Bad Habits

By Sponsor: MANTRA Labs – December 3, 2021

“Make each day your masterpiece.”

John Wooden


Helping people make healthy, consistent habits is a huge part of our mission at MANTRA Labs. As the saying goes – you are what you repeatedly do, and by definition these are your habits. Naturally, this means focusing on creating new habits, but also breaking some bad habits. Once you eliminate a bad habit, however, it’s easy to revert to unhealthy practices if you don’t put something good in place. 

That’s where this article comes into play. We’ll cover ditching bad habits, but we’ll also highlight things you can do to fill the void.

Find the Triggering Event

Not every bad habit is an addiction and not every bad habit is that obvious. That being said, every addiction starts with a bad habit, and what was a minor idiosyncrasy can turn into a full-fledged gambling addiction. In either case, small or big, recognition is the first step in eliminating something harmful from your life. 

So ask yourself this: Is there a trigger?

Are you endlessly scrolling social media out of boredom?

Are you sleeping in because you feel like something is missing from your life?

Buying things you don’t need because you’re trying to make yourself feel better (aka Retail Therapy)?

  1. Recognize the bad habit. Easier said than done, but be brave, ask those around you, they will see them and usually are more than happy to share!
  2. Find what triggers it – the cue.

It’s a type of reverse engineering if you will. Recognizing the bad habit helps you work backward and identify what triggered an impulse in the first place, and until you do this, you can’t properly address it, resolving the bad habit you’re wanting to break.

This is based on the science of how habits work by James Clear. There are four stages of habit:

  1. Cue
  2. Craving
  3. Response
  4. Reward

This pattern creates your habits – good or bad. 

You don’t just want to break old habits – you want to build new ones in their place, otherwise you end up with some “empty” space that is easy for that old habit to slip back in to due to previously formed neuro pathways and cues. 

To break bad habits work on interrupting that 4-step habit process. Remove cues (e.g., don’t bring your phone into your bedroom), focus on removing rewards that tie bad habits together (a beer and TV – though sometimes that is a perfect afternoon!). 

To create new habits we are looking to make the cue obvious (put your running clothes out the night before), make it easy or attainable (decide on 1 mile on day 1, not 10) and then provide a reward (grab the coffee with a friend feeling great with your new endorphins).

Habit change is not easy, but by focusing on what you do automatically each day you can create a positive flywheel for change. The great thing is habits – good or bad – are normally very small things, not huge goals, but they add up to an incredible difference in your life. So you don’t need to climb a mountain or sell all your possessions, just look for the small areas in your life that compound positively or negatively. Then break those down – put your supplements out in the open on the counter so you remember it each day, fill up your water bottle the night before and add some hydration mix to it. 

 

 
 

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