All your habits, whether good or bad, are deeply ingrained in your subconscious mind. This is maybe the main reason why it is very difficult to get rid of your bad habits.
However, with utmost conviction, hard work and patience, you can eliminate any bad habit and nurture good ones.
What is a habit?
A habit is a form that a desire takes. The desire can be anything that will give satisfaction.
At the root of all habits, good or bad, there is one basic thing: the desire or impulse of the spirit to express life.
And the urge to express life lies deep in every human being. This urge operates through the channels of the creative mind. Meanwhile, its energy is transformed, compelling the individual to act and do something.
In each one of us, this impulse expresses itself at the level of our consciousness. However, some of us express it either constructively or destructively.
How habits are formed?
Habits do not occur suddenly or unexpectedly. They are formed by first consciously thinking about something, and then unconsciously acting upon it.
But very few of us realise that when we consciously think, something must happen to our thoughts. What we think today, tomorrow will be a part of our memory. Memory being of active nature, whatever a person thinks of today as a conscious thought, tomorrow it will be an active thought.
Or in simpler terms, this is how a habit is formed. First, it takes the form of a desire, after which comes the expression of the desire. Finally, the desire becomes subjective. Thus, the subconscious action of the thought causes it to perform automatically.
Mechanisms of habit process
We are forming habits every single moment of our lives, without ever being aware of that. Some are habits of a desirable nature, like for example, waking up early in the morning. While others are of a most undesirable nature, like for example, getting used to alcohol.
Some habits are generally not so bad in themselves. However, they are exceedingly bad in their cumulative effects. At times they cause us much loss, pain and anguish. While on the other hand, some habits bring as much peace and joy, as well as a continually increasing our inner power.
So, here is a thought-provoking question: do we have the power within us to determine at all times what types of habits shall take form in our lives? In other words, is habit-forming a mere matter of chance, or we have the power to control it?
The truth is, we have the absolute power to create and control our habits.
“I will be what I will be,” can be and should be said or must be said by every human soul.
How to get rid of your bad habits? The 3 basic principles!
Principle No #1: Be fearless and accept constructive challenges
Come out of your comfort zone and be fearless. Have the guts to accept challenges (constructive). The latter is an important part of our growth and development in our life.
Principle No #2: Understand the types of habits
There are three kinds of habits: good, bad and neutral habits. You must try our best to consciously enhance your good habits. As for the neutral habits, you should utilize them properly.
Principle No #3: Focus on one habit at a time
If you want to get rid of your bad habits, focus on one specific habit that you want to get rid of. By doing so, you will focus on the one particular pattern (keystone habit) which will allow you to reprogram the other automatic routines of your life.
So, you now know which bad habit you will get rid of. Introspect how you have behaved during the past year in that particular area you want to improve upon.
If you did not do well the previous 12 months, do not worry. Do not feel discouraged.
Finally, make a commitment to stick to your plan of getting rid of the habit for the next 21 days, no matter what.
The Ancient Rule of Twenty-One
Why 21 days, and not 20 or 22?
From where the idea of 21 days originated is a mystery. The learned men and women of his world believed that, for a new behaviour to crystallize into a habit, one had to perform the new activity for twenty-one days in a row.
The ancient sages of the Himalayas were absolute masters. They had the power to create new habits which governed every aspect of their lives. They programmed their minds in such a way that they were capable of creating new habits at will. And although the bad habits cannot be erased, the sages could replace the negative habits without any difficulty by just sticking to their plans for 21 consecutive days.
So, here is an effective way, or the only way, to permanently install a new habit. Try to converge all your energy toward the new habit you want to implement so that the old one slips away like an unwelcome house guest.
Doing anything for 21 consecutive days creates a new habit. During this period of time, the new habit (repeated pattern) will sink into your system and create a deep mental imprint into your subconscious mind.
Let’s say you want to wake up at 05 00 in the morning every day. Stay with this early rising routine for 21 days, not missing a single day. By then, it will be a part of your life. Within a short period of time, you will be able to rise at 05 00 a.m. with ease. You will be ready to savour the splendour of another wonderful day.
Difficulties will arise but don’t panic
Note that during your 21-day resolve, especially in the beginning, you will feel that it’s very difficult to stick to it. The idea of giving up will arise. But don’t quit. Your mind will try to trick you by trying all types of “mind“ games.
Don’t listen to the lower self and indulge with the temptation that comes to you. Always listen to your higher self and improve in dealing with your habits indulgence if you want to seriously get rid of your bad habits.
You see, the bad habits are like the roots of a tree which have gotten deep within the ground. It requires a lot of hard work to uproot the tree. Likewise, our bad habits have sunk deep into our existence (subconscious). We will need much hard work, effort and time in order to uproot those habits.
Set S.M.A.R.T goals to deal with your bad habits
The time taken for an individual to completely replace his bad habits with new ones depend on many factors.
However, the 2 primary factors are:
- How long has he been into that habit, and how far and deep the latter has sunk into his subconscious mind.
- How intense are his efforts and how hard he has been working on those habits?
Ancient yogis definitely knew about this secret. That’s the reason why whenever they set goals to deal with any bad habit, they could achieve it at will. This is because they were setting S.M.A.R.T goals.
S.M.A.R.T stands for:
S – Specific: It is very important to know what you exactly want to achieve. The more specific will be your goal definition, the easier it will be for you to achieve it. Fine tune your goal into a specific accomplishment (milestone) that you would like to reach.
For example, if you want to lose weight, you must define clearly how you are going to achieve that: by changing your lifestyle, healthy eating habits, going to the gym, get advise from your doctor/gym instructor.
M – Measurable: It is very important to measure your progress to stay on track. This will allow you to stay more committed as you will measure the tangible progress that you will make in your journey and in your development in dealing with your bad habits.
Keep a journal and write down, for examples, the weights you have been lifting and the number of sets performed. This will keep you motivated.
A – Attainable: Whatever goal we are setting for ourselves should be attainable and should be within our capacity to deal with.
Let’s say, if you go to the gym on the first day, you simply cannot perform a barbell press (50 kg) straight away. You must start with what is attainable, what is within your capacity. Maybe you should try those small dumbbell shoulder presses first.
You must understand that you cannot be like Arnold Schwarzenegger one week after training in the gym.
R – Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to you and should matter in your life.
Ask yourself the question why you want to achieve this goal? How it will help you? Will it make you healthier, fitter?
T – Time-bound: You should put a time limit to achieve your goal. In other words, you must decide upon the time that it will take you to reach your goal.
If you want to lose 5 kg, put a deadline when you are planning to achieve that goal. Let’s say you decide after 3 months, then achieve your goal during that time limit by sticking to it.
Stay away from stimuli and Learn to say NO
In order to get rid of your bad habits, any habit, you need to learn how to stay away from all those stimuli that actually trigger the temptation of those things that you are trying to avoid.
Let’s say, if you want to lose weight, you must have the willpower to refuse any type of sweets or ice cream being offered to you. Otherwise, your resolve to lose weight will not make any sense.
The same applies to cigarettes and alcohol. If someone offers you a smoke or a drink, have the courage to refuse it. Don’t try to impress your peer group. You must never forget the biggest alcoholic started with a mere drink.
But what about if the stimulus is a person in your family or someone whom you admire?
Maybe your parents, your spouse’s, your children or your siblings seldom act as strong stimuli in your life. They try to agitate your mind. This results in anger and frustration.
The solution is to become more cautious and conscious. You must not get affected by what’s going on around you. Try to be as cool as a bottle of water instead of a can of soda. Be more mindful by controlling your emotions.
Outer surroundings should not control your inner self. It should be the other way round. You have the willpower to prevent others to trigger any response or reaction out of you.
Keep an eye on your final goal
Always keep an eye on your final goal, that is, on eradicating your bad habit. Sometimes, it may happen that you get drifted away from your goal. Maybe you have not been able to keep up with your commitment. But do not get depressed. It’s part of the game. Do not allow failure to get into your heart.
Pick yourself up and just keep moving. It’s not about losing a battle, but about winning the war of dealing with your bad habit. Keep your eyes on the final goal of seeing a new you, of seeing the transformation within yourself.
Sometimes, you need mentors who will keep pumping the energy and keep inspiring you not to give up. So, get a mentor. The latter can be any member of your family, a friend or a teacher.
Inspiration or perspiration
Here is a very beautiful quote by Thomas Alva Edison.
You may have the burning desire (inspiration) to get rid of any bad habit, but unless that inspiration is put into action (dedicated committed hard work, that 99% perspiration) you are not going to be able to achieve any success.
So, you must simply act having the right vision.
Likewise, perspiration without inspiration is a nightmare but inspiration without perspiration is a daydream. Therefore, you need to have both.
Inspiration is the fuel that propels the vehicle of our hard work in the right direction.
So, how to stay inspired? Either you get a mentor, or you can create a positive surrounding that can actually influence your mindsets and your values so profoundly that you are inspired to continue your journey.
Concentrate on the positive things
There is not a single person in this world who do not have any problem or facing any type of difficulties. But the biggest problem for each one of us is that we are getting consumed by those problems facing us.
There are many things, good or bad, happening in our life. But due to our bad habits, we focus all our attention on the negative things in our life. This causes the amount of negative energy to rise above the positive ones.
Consequently, this overflow of negative energy starts to impact our minds in a negative way.
Therefore, we should concentrate on the positive things. We should try to focus our minds on the wonderful things happening in our lives. We must learn to practise gratitude. This will in turn shower more blessings on us.
Discipline the mind
If you want to give up your lower base habits and negative attachments, you must learn how to discipline your mind. You have to hang on to something that is higher than yourself. You must learn to cultivate your positive habits.
This will, in turn, provide you with a very deep spiritual connection. You will feel a sense of inner fulfilment which will empower you to tackle and deal with your bad habits and attachments.
Train your mind not to be pampered. Let the mind know that you control it and not the other way round. Your mind cannot enslave you, but it should be under your control.
Discipline the mind by postponing the wrong and prioritizing the right. If you have to do something which you feel is the right thing, do it now. The habit of doing the right thing now will act as the keystone habit which will send ripples around to all the other habits that we are trying to get rid of.
Do the right things, not the easy ones
Life is not about doing the easy things, but doing the right things. Usually, the wrong things come easy and they give instant pleasure. That’s why our mind is more attracted to them. However, in the long run, we have to pay a high price for doing those things.
On the other hand, those things that we do right may cause a little pain in the beginning. They may be hard to do but they pay us a high premium.
Waking up late in the morning, let’s say at 10 00, is very easy. But when you decide to change that habit and instead wake up at 05 00, it is very painful.
But after a certain time, you get used to it. You start to feel better. You realise that you are able to accomplish more by waking up early. This, in turn, gives you self-satisfaction and increases your self-confidence.
Stop making excuses
The greatest enemy of our progress, in terms of dealing with our bad habits, is making excuses. It looks very cheap. We must stop playing the blame game.
Thus, we must learn to take responsibility for our current situations. We must be accountable and work on our lives in a way that we can actually transform our bad habits and cultivate good ones
Is there something beyond the mind and the intelligence?
There is always a conflict between the mind and the intelligence. The mind is never at rest, even when a person is fast asleep. It is like a ghost which is restless.
The mind is always waiting for a thought to act upon it, no matter whether it is a positive or negative thought. The more thoughts you feed into your mind, the more restless the latter becomes.
Thus, you need to strengthen your intelligence and its discriminatory power, so that it can shut the mind.
But what happens when both the mind and the intelligence join hands. In this situation, a 4th dimension is needed.
That fourth dimension is the spark within your being. It actually gives life to your being and animates the inanimate body and allows you or anyone to move around in this world. In other words, it is the soul or spirit. Maybe this is from where we got the word spiritual.
So, if you want to get rid of your bad habits, you must tap into the tremendous power that you have within. This power is known as willpower. This will power is the power of the soul. When you tap into this unlimited energy, it gives you the power to deal with your senses, crazy minds and corrupt intelligence.
Ultimately, you will be able to deal with any types of bad habits. In other words, you will eliminate the bad habits at will.