Every New Year, people select their bad habits and lifestyle decisions that they want to change. So, now It’s time to ask yourself how it’s going. If it’s been hard breaking those bad habits, you’re not alone. One of the reasons why it’s so difficult is that most people try to break bad habits by simply resisting them. And if this is your approach to overcoming bad habits, it’s time to change that.
Think about anything you’d like to stop doing. It could be eating chocolate for breakfast. Or, maybe it’s a negative thought pattern that brings you down.
When it comes to your bad habits, you’ve probably tried this approach: “Don’t think about that. Stop thinking about that.”
But how did it go? If all you can do is think about the forbidden chocolate and that “bad” thought, you’re doing exactly what research expects you to do.
Dr. James A.K. Erskine and Dr. Geroge Georgiou have studied this phenomenon. According to Erskine and Georgiou, “When an individual actively tries to avoid certain thoughts…you will start thinking about the thought you are trying to avoid more. Second, if the thought is about a behavior, you increase the likelihood of engaging in that behaviour.”
In short, the more you suppress an idea or action, the more you obsess about it.
So, what are you supposed to do about those forbidden chocolate breakfasts? Or, those negative thoughts replaying in your mind?
Instead of resisting the thought or behavior, replace it. You’ll have to come up with a replacement thought or behavior, and then commit to that action whenever that bad habit or bad thought comes up.
But doing this can help you overcome bad habits more effectively and even more easily, too.