We’re creatures of habit. The truth behind the psychology of routine:
If you exhibit ‘bad’ habits regularly – biting your nails, smoking or forgetting to floss – and you’ve tried to break them, chances are it won’t be easy. If you do end up beating one – is it possible to break another?
The beginnings of habits are deeply embedded in your brain, psychologists say, and usually stem from early childhood.
This is your brain on habits
Psychologists say it’s because the brain is wired to take shortcuts for efficiency. If you bite your nails now as an adult, perhaps as a youngster it was too time consuming to clip and file your nails with an implement. Or you neglect to floss your teeth because simply brushing was easier and completed the entire teeth cleaning procedure more quickly. Habits are formed, they say, by continually doing the same action.
Suppose you want to change a particular habit and you have full intention to. It won’t be easy, because the brain has been ‘trained’ to believe the way you’ve been doing it is the easiest way.
Redirecting the brain
Habits also occur because of the goal of positive outcome. That’s your brain again, thinking that smoking a cigarette on your work break signals the end of the monotony of your office routine. If the habit is bad, your brain doesn’t know otherwise. It’s being rewarded with something in answer to something else.
Is it possible to redirect the brain towards eliminating the bad and replacing with the good? It’s entirely possible, psychologists say, and it takes a little mind over matter – this time, your conscious mind.
Identify a good habit you want to replace the bad with. When the ‘bad’ pops up – consciously direct yourself towards the new, ‘good’ habit. It will take about two months to break the old and adopt the new.
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