How To Get Rid Of Bad Habits Using Psychology: 9 Science-Backed Ways

how to get rid of bad habits using psychology

5. Remove triggers

Eliminate as many triggers from your life as possible. Stay away from people, situations, and things which may trigger your bad habits. Get rid of all the alcohol, stay away from the bar, avoid smoke breaks, throw away the candy bars, do whatever you need to. But make sure to cut out the triggers so that you can successfully build a newer habit that’s healthy for you.

James Clear writes “Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.”  This is a crucial stage to help you get rid of bad habits.

How To Get Rid Of Bad Habits Using Psychology: 9 Science-Backed Ways

6. Change your environment

An excellent way to get rid of all triggers is to change your environment and move to a new one. Our environment greatly influences our lifestyle and habits. By drastically changing the environment we live in, we can get out of the autopilot mode that supports our bad habits and build a new routine in absence of the cue. James adds “Your environment makes your bad habit easier and good habits harder. Change your environment and you can change the outcome.

In fact, research shows that moving to a new environment can help to change habits as we are not exposed to familiar triggers. Dan Ariely, author, and James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University explains “If you move to a new place, you won’t have all of these environmental cues. If you take advantage of a time when you go on vacation, or when you do something else for a few weeks, those are really good times to break a habit.”

7. Be patient

It is highly likely that your bad habits have formed over a period of time and not in just a few days. Similarly, it will take adequate time to form a new healthy habit as it requires a lot of dedication and commitment. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. explains “It’s unlikely you can change completely right away if this is an ingrained habit reinforced by others and caused by some self-defeating tendencies.” So “you’re not going to throw them off in an instant,” she adds. 

In fact, according to a 2010 study titled ‘How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world’ published in The European Journal of Social Psychology, on average it usually takes 66 days to change a specific behavior. However, the time period can vary from 18 days to 254 days. So it is imperative that you remain patient and focus on progressing in a slow and stable manner to get rid of bad habits.

Related: STOP Killing Your Self-Esteem: 5 Habits You Need To Change Now

8. Share your goals with others

If you want to get rid of bad habits, then tell others about it. Sharing your goals with your family and friends can prove to be highly beneficial for changing your bad habits permanently. “When we tell others about a goal and we do not follow through on it, we are ‘punished’ with shame and a feeling that we let other people down,” explains Kauser Khan, a clinical hypnotherapist and homeopathic practitioner.

Although shame should not be a motivator, in this case, it surely is effective. By informing our friends and family about our goals to change bad habits, we become more likely to follow through on them. As we don’t want to seem like a failure, we give our best to break our bad habits.

How To Get Rid Of Bad Habits Using Psychology: 9 Science-Backed Ways

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