How to Get Rid of Bad Habits

Three Parts:Adjusting Your MindsetKilling the HabitFighting Specific Habits

Let's face it, all of us have our own bad habits. We may bite our nails or crack our knuckles. Some of us interrupt people often or procrastinate. All these nasty habits are hard to break. But have no fear! This article will teach you how to get rid of your bad habits. More information after the jump!

Part 1
Adjusting Your Mindset

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    Take complete responsibility for your actions. You are the king or queen of your actions — no one is responsible for them but you. When you get behind the driver's seat after three too many drinks, that is your decision. In some ways, it may be more practical than getting on a bus or hailing a taxi, but it's still your decision. Whether you want to or not, you own up to your decisions at some point.
    • Realizing that you are completely responsible for your actions can leave you feeling overwhelmed or even paralyzed at first. You begin to realize that each of your actions has repercussions, and that those repercussions are wildly different than the ones you may have imagined when you acted in the first place. It's a scary thought.
    • But ultimately, being completely responsible for your actions is empowering. You are the maker of your own destiny. Within certain norms, no one else can tell you what to do. Taking full responsibility for your actions gives you freedom. You begin to understand how habits can be metaphorical chains, and how breaking them can set you free.
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    Start scrutinizing the consequences and rewards of your habits. Make a simple pro/con list of what your habit gives you. Try to be viciously, unsparingly honest with yourself. You can do it. Here's a pro/con list, for example, of smoking:
    • Pros:
      • Feeling of calmness and energy from nicotine
      • Helps with short-term stress
      • Opportunity for social ice-breaker
      • Helps me feel stylish
    • Cons:
      • Numerous and damaging long-term health problems
      • Gets very addictive very fast
      • Expensive
      • If abused, cuts my life short by years[1]
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    Begin to weigh the short-term rewards with the long-term consequences. Usually, we justify indulging in a habit we know is bad because we value the short-term rewards disproportionately over the long-term effects. And that's because we can't see the long-term effects — they're far off in the future, hard to judge, sometimes uncertain. It's much easier to see and feel the short-term benefits.
    • For example, maybe you're a breakfast skipper. You're trying to lose weight, so you convince yourself to do it. In the short term, you may drop a couple of pounds and feel better about your body. But in the long run, those pounds are likely to come back (because you're not dieting properly), and you're planting the seeds of an eating disorder.
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    Stick to breaking one habit at a time. You may feel empowered by your decision to bust all your bad behaviors — and that's good! But don't put the cart before the horse. Stick to busting one habit first. Trying to break all your bad habits at once can be seriously overwhelming; it's better to take your time and break one for good than to rush through the process and end up getting rid of none of your bad habits.
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    Don't take minor setbacks too seriously. If you happen to fall off the wagon and accidentally indulge in your bad habit, don't give up all hope. Pull yourself right back up and get back on track. Minor setbacks will happen — pretending that they won't is just not being honest with yourself. Instead, learn from your setbacks and try to ensure that they won't happen again.

Part 2
Killing the Habit

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    Start by tracking when you do the habit. Keep a journal handy and jot down every time you crack your knuckles, clear your throat, or light up a cigarette, for example. Note the day, the hour, and the situation in which you indulged.
    • Pay attention to any triggers you may have noticed. For example, perhaps you notice that you tend to smoke cigarettes when you're with a certain friend and after you've had several drinks. You've just identified your trigger.
    • If you're serious about conquering your triggers, talk with your friend. Tell him something like: "Hey, I'm really trying to kick this habit. Next time I try to bum a cigarette from you, will you remind me of this conversation?" Who knows — the friend might even refrain from smoking in front of you entirely!
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    As much as possible, stop putting yourself in situations where your triggers flourish. Some people have the habit of eating when they're bored. They like food, and they don't like boredom, so they use food as a way of relieving boredom. The trigger in this habit, easily enough, is boredom. Keep your mind racing and your hands busy, and you won't eat until you feel hungry.
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    Try to replace your bad habit with a healthy habit. Many longtime smokers, for example, kick their habit by substituting baby carrots for cigarettes whenever the urge hits. And for good reason: Scientists have discovered that people who eat more produce have fewer cigarettes over the course of a day and end up having an easier time quitting.[2]
    • If you bite your nails, try biting on some chewing gum instead.[3]
    • If you crack your knuckles, try keeping your hands occupied with a squishy ball or practice doodling instead.
    • Get creative with your substitutions! You never know what will or won't work until you try it.
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    Condition yourself to not enjoy the bad habit. The following technique is little like Pavlov's dog experiment in that it involves associating a habit with a negative emotion or physical stimulus. Try wearing a rubber band over your wrist. Whenever you catch yourself engaging in your bad habit, snap the rubber band on your wrist enough to create mild discomfort. You should begin to associate the bad habit with minor discomfort and have a new physiological reason to stop!
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    Find better alternatives that meet the same reward. Bad habits give us a reward. We may not fully understand the reward that they give us, but they do. Try to pinpoint the reward that you get from your bad habit and find a better way to achieve the same reward.
    • Smokers, for example, often find that E-cigarettes or nicotine gum do the trick. While neither alternative is without dangers, they're arguably both better for you than smoking.
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    Try making a commitment to someone else. Tell your good group of friends that you intend to stop drinking. Good for you — you've just made a commitment! Give your best friend $100 and ask her to keep it for you until you've successfully kicked your habit. Another commitment! Humans are social creatures, and we care what other humans think about us. If we make a promise to another person, we want to keep it. Making a commitment to someone else puts a healthy dimension of pressure and urgency on our success.[4]
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    Break your timeline into manageable chunks. Set re-evaluation times at 30, 90, and 365 days to celebrate your success. If you reach 30 days of sobriety, for example, know that the hardest part is likely over. If you reach 90 days, you've done an incredible job. At 365 days, the heavy lifting is all but done. Stay vigilant and be proud of your accomplishment.

Part 3
Fighting Specific Habits

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    Learn how to quit smoking. Worldwide, estimates are that smoking accounts for more than 5 million deaths each year, worldwide.[5] This is one of the ultimate bad habits, and one people have particular difficulty with. Nonetheless, there are options:
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    Learn how to curb your excessive drinking. Every now and again, one or two drinks isn't that bad. In fact, some studies show that, in moderation, alcohol can actually be healthy.[6] But too many of us get out of control when we drink, and we know it. Again, there are options!
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    Stop cracking your knuckles. Cracking your knuckles isn't so much a health risk as an annoying habit that you'd rather not have. There are ways to keep you from unconsciously cracking your knuckles!
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    Get yourself to stop procrastinating. Procrastination can become an addiction for a whole set of people, especially those who've had success procrastinating in the past. The truth is that you get out of work fed up of what you did;dividing your work with the hardest part first will better motivate you and help you overcome this habit.
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    Stop biting your fingernails. From fingernail polish all the way to a band-aid, there are tons of innovative ways people have kept their nails away from their mouths, and you can too.
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    Stop chewing loudly. So, no one ever told you that chewing with your mouth open was unappetizing, and the habit just formed from childhood on. Luckily, there are ways to keep from aping a cow and chewing like a well-mannered human.
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    Stop watching so much TV. They say that TV rots your brain, but that seems like an old wives' tale. Much more urgent is the idea that TV doesn't really give you lasting happiness. How many people, on their deathbeds, do you think regretted not watching more TV? On the flip side, how many do you think regretted not taking more vacations, saying "I love you" more, or spending more time with their kids?
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    Get over compulsive lying. It's become so easy for you that it's now a sport: You lie at odd times, for no particular reason, even after you told yourself you wouldn't lie. Compulsive lying can wreck relationships. Fix it now before it takes over.


  • Use something like a rubber band. Whenever you catch yourself, snap the rubber band on your wrist.
  • Think positively, praise yourself when you've accomplished your goal!
  • Depending on how serious your habit is (like drinking,smoking, etc.), you may need professional help.
  • Be more interesting and motivated when giving comment.
  • Be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up over accidentally doing the bad habit will not help you.
  • Be patient. You cannot break a habit overnight! They are so automatic, sometimes you may not even realize you are doing it!
  • Pretend your crush is watching you. Would you bite your nails or crack your knuckles around that special someone?
  • Get support from others. Tell them what they can do to help you. This will make it easier to achieve your goals.
  • Read about your habit. The hard realities of your habit and its consequences can compel you not to do it. For example, Wikipedia articles often have a "Health Risks" section of various practices and substances. It also helps by giving you a sense of clarity. You need to see the big picture, the bad and the good.

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