Possible Solutions to Break Bad Habits’ Influence On Our Life

Habits are common to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, your sex or background, we all have them. But the type of habit you have could be the difference between a great life, or one you have no control over.

When it comes to habits, in a nutshell, they fall into 2 categories – good habits and bad habits.

Good habits are generally those ones that make you feel good or bring about a positive outcome. For example; paying your kid’s school fees on time, every time, and spending time to reflect on life, are both good habits.

But just like everything in life, good habits have their opposites. These are called bad habits.

Bad habits often make you feel bad and generate negative outcomes. A great example of this is smoking or watching pornography. Smoking could lead to serious health complications and even death, while watching pornography could cause you to feel dissatisfied with your spouse or condemn you to a life of constant shame.

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In as much as good and bad habits fall into rigid categories, they can come in different strengths. Some mild good habits can range from eating dinner early to watching how you spend, while mild bad habits can be littering or sleeping during work hours. It is important however to note that even though your habits may seem mild and non-threatening now, habits are in the habit of sneaking up on you. These bad habits may start off small but have every capability of growing to uncontrollable proportions.

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What may start as an act that can easily be overlooked, can easily grow into a life-controlling stronghold.

The question now is – what to do when this happens? How can bad habits be broken?

In answering this, it is important to note that habits are patterns of behavior. To figure out how to break the bad habit you must first figure out the pattern from start to finish and disrupt it.

Habits usually start with a trigger. It doesn’t matter what kind of habit you have, there is always a trigger. For example, if you are in the habit of drinking a lot of alcohol when you go out, a possible trigger could be the friends you hang out with or where you go. It could be that whenever you find yourself with a certain set of people, you get teased about not drinking enough. Eventually, you start drinking and find it hard to stop at one glass. Triggers could also be environmental like where you go to drink, or even emotional. If you notice that you drink a lot more when you are under pressure or under stress, then that is your trigger. It is normal to feel like you’re the only one dealing with these habits, but the truth is you’re not. Everyone has something they’re dealing with…even me. I used to deal with a habit of segregating myself and that fed isolation. It was so apparent at a point that people stopped calling and inviting me out.

How did I get to overcome it and break that bad habit? I practiced these 8 steps every day.

  1. Figure out the habit you want to break
  2. This is where we get down to specifics. When identifying the specific habits you want to break, it is important to narrow down the exact habit you want to deal with. In other words, ‘getting more exercise’ or ‘living better’ are too broad to be specific. Instead, really narrow it down to ‘drinking less by limiting my glasses to 2’ or ‘sleeping by 10PM every day to get enough rest and avoid sleeping at work”.

    If you take a closer look, these specifics do not only have the habit, but also reasonable and practical actions like ‘sleeping by 10PM’ and ‘limiting my glasses to 2’, that can help you achieve your goal.

  3. Identify the triggers
  4. Remember we spoke about triggers earlier? Well, now is the time to really do the work. Triggers start the habit-making process and can be very sneaky. They can range from watching a scene on TV, to being in an environment. In my case it was feeling anxious about people and places. Whenever I would find myself in a crowded place, my first reaction was to hide. This would eventually lead to keeping silent and fading into the background until I could retreat peacefully into my phone or just leave.

    If you’re having difficulty identifying your trigger, a great way to deal with that is working backwards. Stop where you are now, in how you’re feeling, and think to the preceding moments that led to where you are. You should be able to find your trigger and deal with it accordingly.

  5. Dealing with the triggers
  6. Now that you have your trigger in your sights, it’s time to put it in a chokehold. You need to cut off everything that feeds that trigger. If you know you wake up late and eventually sleep at work because you spend too much time watching TV, reduce your TV time. If your drinking more than two glasses stems from hanging with that particular friend, reduce the time spent with that person. It will be hard at first, but the results will be well worth it.

  7. Create an alternate route/pattern
  8. Breaking a bad habit is not about stopping but substituting. Now that you know what patterns feed your habit, it’s time to create a more positive one with more positive outcomes. If your friends usually invite you for drinks after work, and you find yourself indulging in alcohol a bit too much, you can change the narrative. Instead of going out every single day, leave the partying to the weekends. You can even take it a step further by sticking to mocktails or light ciders.

    To deal with my habit I started inserting myself into conversations more. The more I spoke, the bigger my confidence got, and I started to enjoy the conversations. The key is to switch the pattern before the trigger sets in.

  9. Practice pattern-breaking behaviors
  10. Switching the pattern is great, but you also need to develop willpower to break your habit for good. This basically means, devising ways to alter the habit process so the result or outcome favors you. A great example is switching to non-alcoholic beverages while you’re out with friends or trying an e-cigarette to curb your smoking habit. These small alterations go a long way in disrupting the regular flow of things.

  11. Use triggers and get support
  12. Triggers aren’t all bad…they can be used for your good. Setting an alarm to remind you to stop drinking at 8PM, or one to go to bed can be very useful when breaking bad habits. You can also use sticky notes, ask reliable friends to watch you or wear a wrist band with motivational text to remind you. All of this adds up to help break the cycle.

  13. Remain patient and persistent
  14. Patience and persistence are very important to breaking a bad habit. There will be low points where you no longer feel the need to fight and want to give up. Like in all things, that is when you need to fight harder. Just like it took a while for the bad habits to form, it will also take some time to break them. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail or slip up now and again. And trust me, those moments will come. The important thing is to keep your eyes on the prize. Take it one day at a time and you'll get there.

  15. Don’t avoid professional help
  16. I have noticed in Nigeria that professional help is never seen as an option. There are tons of people who genuinely will do better with the help of a professional but are too scared of social stigmatization to seek it. Don’t be one of those people. The habits you are trying to break could be triggered by depression, and deep breaths may not be helping. If you’re trying to break the habit and think there’s more to it, asking a professional therapist or doctor could be your saving grace.

In all that’s been said, the underlying lesson is, you can change your life. There is no great habit that anyone has that didn’t have to be worked on. And there is no bad habit that cannot be broken if you work at it long enough. I did it and so can you.

Works cited

  1. James Clear. (2018). Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Avery.
  2. Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House Trade Paperbacks.
  3. Prochaska, J. O., Norcross, J. C., & DiClemente, C. C. (1994). Changing for good: A revolutionary six-stage program for overcoming bad habits and moving your life positively forward. William Morrow Paperbacks.
  4. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H., Potts, H. W., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 998-1009.
  5. Verplanken, B., & Wood, W. (2006). Interventions to break and create consumer habits. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 25(1), 90-103.
  6. Ouellette, J. A., & Wood, W. (1998). Habit and intention in everyday life: The multiple processes by which past behavior predicts future behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 124(1), 54-74.
  7. Wood, W., & Neal, D. T. (2007). A new look at habits and the habit-goal interface. Psychological Review, 114(4), 843-863.
  8. Mischel, W. (2014). The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. Little, Brown Spark.
  9. Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2012). Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change. Guilford Press.
  10. Armitage, C. J., & Christian, J. (2017). From attitudes to behaviour: Basic and applied research on the theory of planned behaviour. Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 61-65.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Possible Solutions to Break Bad Habits’ Influence On Our Life. (2024, Feb 03). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/possible-solutions-to-break-bad-habits-influence-on-our-life-essay

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