Why is it so Hard to Change Habits?

It seems that habits – especially bad ones – are easy to pick up but less easy to break. So if you want to break some of your habits, why is so hard to change habits?

Part of the reason is down to our subconscious mind. The part of us that takes care of most things we do in our life – breathing regularly, ensuring our hair grows, replenishing and repairing cells in our bodies, that kind of thing.

Change habits imageWe are creatures of habit.

Habits keep us consistent. If we didn’t do things consistently, we’d confuse everyone around us. Greeting them like a long lost friend one time, like a worst enemy the next time, as though we’d never met them. So if we changed our habit each time we met someone, that would be at best socially awkward.

The same goes for most other things in our life.

We’re doing things consistently – by habit – day in, day out.

So when we decide that one of our habits isn’t something we want to do, it’s not easy to break the specific habit we want to change.

Figures vary but it’s generally thought that it takes us between 14 and 28 days to either make or break a habit.

Which means that if you want to change habits, you’re going to need to make a conscious effort for the first two to four weeks. After that, you’ll have developed a new (replacement) habit and life should get easier.

Breaking a habit imageThere are various things you can do to make changing habits easier:

Start by setting up some “triggers” that will remind you that you’re doing your best to give something up.

Maybe place these in locations where you’d normally go…

So if you’re trying to break the habit of smoking cigarettes, chances are that nowadays you’ll go outside. Maybe put a note on the door you normally go out of. Maybe lock your matches or lighter away so that it’s a conscious effort rather than an automatic response to light up a cigarette.

The same goes for losing weight and changing the habit of eating too much.

A note on the fridge door or one of those gimmicky toys that make a noise when you open the door to have “just one more slice” of that chocolate cake.

The other problem a lot of people get that makes it so hard to change habits is that as soon as they lapse – even just once – then they take the view that “it’s all over” and they’ll never kick the habit.

So as soon as they fail once, that’s it. The habit can’t be broken.

Or at least that’s what our mind tells us.

But in reality, you may well lapse. It happens.

The trick is to not allow the occasional setback stop you from achieving your goal of changing whatever habit it is you want to get rid of.

Another thing you can do is get help from a course like this one that’s specially designed to help you change your habits with as little effort as possible.