Bad habits have something in common. Either it’s a cigarette you are reaching for, a cup of coffee, an energy drink or a sugar and fat laden dessert. At some point you feel that something has completely overpowered you. You know you shouldn’t do it, you know that it is not serving you, and you know you want to quit, so why is it stronger than your will power and your conscious mind?
It’s a strong pattern in your life and it probably took years to form. No wonder why you cannot break it in a day. When you’re stressed, scared, lonely, sad, angry, bored, tired or insecure, you reach out for something that is familiar and gives instant pleasure.
The good news is that you don’t have to depend on those substances to cheer you up for the rest of your life. Rest assured that there are some techniques that can help you quit and live a healthier life.
I quit cigarettes, caffeine, wine, meat, dairy and processed food addictions. The process wasn’t always easy. I failed many times. But now I love the fact that I have failed, since I learned a lot, and now am able to share this piece of wisdom with you.
So if you are trying to quit smoking, drinking coffee or energy drinks, consuming too much sugar or junk food, please read on as these 6 steps have the potential to change your life. They changed mine.
If you don’t have a strong desire to quit your bad habit it will be very hard to maintain the change. It is definitely possible for you to quit smoking, drinking coffee or your junk food addiction in order to please or impress others, but such changes tend to be short-lived.
Willingness means embracing change rather than fighting it. It means that you’re finally ready to change and this readiness comes from within, rather than from outside pressure. Change is easy when you’re truly ready.
Usually this step happens automatically. The fact that you’re reading this article might be an indication that you’re finally ready.
2. Stop resisting and/or denying
Whatever you resist persists. If you’re still resisting your bad habit, quitting will require a lot of will power. When you solely rely on your will power, it is usually just a matter of time when you are going to fall off the wagon.
If you’re in denial and still say to yourself that you can control your addiction, or that it’s not even an addiction, then it will be very hard to change.
Accept that you have an addiction and fully surrender to it. Surrender doesn’t mean that you put up with the habit and just keep consuming junk food, caffeine or cigarettes. It purely means that you accept your current situation. And you’re ready to move on.
3. Educate yourself.
You need to understand why you want to quit. Do comprehensive research on caffeine, smoking, sugar, junk food, or whatever your habit is. For example, it’s not enough to know that dairy is just bad for you. Find some detailed information, e.g. dairy contains 59 known hormones that disrupt your hormonal system, including IGF-1 which makes cancer cells grow rapidly. These details are more powerful than just “milk is bad for you”.
Educating yourself will build motivation to change and stick with it.
4. Clarify and define your values.
Take some time and do this exercise: sit down comfortably in a quiet cosy place. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down all the values that you think are important to you. It could be relationships, money, career, friendships, health, travelling, luxury, status, creativity, helping others, finding life purpose, family, independence, etc. Give yourself as much time as you need and write as much as you feel. Then select 10 main values out of this list. After doing so, select 5 values out of the 10 list. Then rank them from the most important to the least.
When I did this exercise over 6 years ago, I found out that my most important value was health. And yet, I smoked at a time. Health was my most important value in life, but my habits were not reflecting it. This realization made me think things through and decide that I will never smoke again. This is a lot more powerful than using your will power.
5. Imagine the best version of you.
How would that person live? What would that person feel like, act like, talk like? Is what you’re doing now going to lead you to becoming that person? Would the best version of you smoke, drink coffee or eat junk food? Whether the best version of you becomes your reality, or just stays in your mind, is purely up to you. You start becoming this person once you make a decision.
6. Be patient with yourself.
Big changes don’t happen overnight. The more intense the habit, the more challenging it’s going to be to quit it. Don’t resist and don’t beat yourself up. Progress is more important than perfection. If you cheat once, it doesn’t mean that you failed and none of your hard work counts. Sit down, take a piece of paper and write down why you gave in. It will help you understand how you operate better and will prevent you from falling off in the future.
A sneaky trick
I’d like to share one fantastic trick that worked for me. When I decided to quit smoking, I had a brand new packet of cigarettes in my drawer and I told to myself every day: “I can smoke whenever I want”. And when I wanted to, I would say “Maybe I will just try not to smoke today, but if I really want to do it again tomorrow, I will”.
And so I procrastinated smoking until one day I didn’t want to smoke. I did the same with coffee, wine, meat and cheese.
The thing is that when you restrict yourself and don’t allow yourself to do something, you want it even more! We humans are weird creatures. If we can’t have something, we want it even more!
This trick is also very powerful because most people can restrict themselves from certain habits once they are alone, but when they go out with their friends and are exposed to cigarettes, coffee, fried chicken or ice cream, they give in. But once you use this trick, there is no difference whether you are alone or with other people – you are the one who is controlling your habits, not the environment.
Most importantly, love yourself and know that you deserve the best. We so often take care of other people but forget to give a proper love and attention to ourselves. Forgive yourself for any wrongs, embrace yourself and take care of both your body and spirit.
Author: Osha Key
Osha Key is a certified nutritionist, weight loss expert and the author of "MASTERY IN WEIGHT LOSS", which you can get for FREE when you visit her website www.becomethebestofyou.com and subscribe.