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Overcoming Old Habits

Our lives run on the habits we create. Just about everything we do in life is based off a habit we’ve developed at some point in time. Some habits help us in life, while others hold us back. Some bad habits, like an addiction, can negatively impact your ability to live your best life. On some level addiction is the result of a bad habit. In most cases a person’s willpower isn’t enough to overcome these bad habits. We’ll look at breaking bad habits in four specific phases:

Create a Plan

If you’ve come to this post you’ve probably tried breaking this habit before unsuccessfully. The first time someone tries to overcome an addiction they typically try relying too much on willpower without much of a plan. Just because you were unsuccessful before doesn’t mean you can’t overcome your addiction this time. You can’t become a new person overnight so try focusing on one habit at a time. If you’re getting off alcohol it’s probably not the best time to give up smoking. In this way, willpower is like a muscle. It’ll become tired if you overuse it.

Understand your Habit

Every habit follows the same four-step pattern:

  1. Cue: Triggers your brain to begin a behavior, information foreseeing a reward.
  2. Craving: A desire to change your current mental state. 
  3. Response: The actual habit, it can take the form of a thought or an action.
  4. Reward: Every habit ends with a reward.

James Clear explains it like this, “rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward.” Now that you understand how habits work you can take the necessary steps to avoid the triggers of your cravings. We recommend writing down your triggers so you’re better able to avoid such things. This puts you in the best position to succeed. Furthermore, by writing down your triggers you have the opportunity to analyze them. Look for trends, you may notice your desire to use spikes under stressful circumstances. Therefore, you can better work on coping mechanisms to help deal with such stress.

Build Support

Committing to new habits will only get you so far. You won’t see lasting change by yourself. This is why it’s important to create a support system devoted to your success in achieving this goal. Your success can be made or broken by the people you surround yourself with. Keeping them involved in your recovery allows them to provide assistance when you’re feeling triggered or weak. One of the best ways you can build up your support network is through becoming active in recovery programs like NA or AA.

When you’re ready, find a sponsor or even an accountability buddy, to help you on your road to recovery. It’s also important to mention that not everyone will expect you to be successful or even want to see you succeed. Have a plan in place for handling people who expect you to fail, for example keep the focus on how far you’ve come. What’s most important is to remember to ignore the noise.

Overcome Challenges

The best way to overcome challenges that may arise is by living a healthy lifestyle. This is done by:

  • Eating right and staying hydrated
  • Getting regular sleep each night
  • Exercising regularly 

It’s a lot easier to break an addiction when you live a healthy, balanced life. In addition to this, watch out for the “awe screw-it” mentality.  Overcoming an addiction, or any bad habit, is hard work and you might have some slip ups along the way. As they say, relapse is a part of recovery. In other words, if you find yourself relapsing give yourself a break and get right back to your recovery.

You can’t afford to develop the “screw-it” mentality where you relapse and go on a bender because you feel as though you’ve failed. If you find yourself relapsing, simply accept it and focus on harm reduction. Never use a relapse as an excuse to do more substances. You might get tired of hearing this but always remember to take things one day at a time. Forgive yourself, take the time to reward your successes, and review your plan each day. Therefore, it’s time to break those bad habits and start creating new ones. Let our professional staff help.

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