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gravity's avatar

How do you find the strength to break a bad habit and change your life?

Asked by gravity (3116points) July 2nd, 2011

When you have something holding you back, how do you change it? It could be hanging with the wrong people, drinking, escaping life, letting others manipulate you, or letting something hold you back and keep you from moving forward Where do draw your strength from?

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13 Answers

MilkyWay's avatar

I vow to myself that I will try my hardest. I have got quite a strong will, and I treat myself to keep me motivated, like ice cream, chocolate, new rings etc.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I hit rock bottom. I get desperate, I can stand no more in whatever direction I’m heading, that’s how.

athenasgriffin's avatar

For me, there is always the straw that breaks the camels back. I’ll take a lot, but then there will come a point when just one more tiny thing will get on my last nerve and I will be done. Then I change my behavior drastically. All changes for me are drastic.

Kardamom's avatar

You have to constantly weight the pros and cons of continuing to do what you are doing, and changing. Sometimes you might “think” it would be great if only you could change a bad habit, but when you get right down to it, changing that habit, might end up being a worse decision for you. There are always some kind of benefits to continuing a bad habit.


Hanging with the wrong people. If you drop these people, who you probably like and have a lot of things in common with and have known for years, you will miss them and have to try to find new friends that accept you (and that might not happen). If you don’t drop these people and find better friends, you will likely continue to do a lot of things that are not helpful to your success in life and may not be in your best interest.

Drinking. If you stop drinking, you’ll probably have withdrawal symptoms and you’ll probably have to go into a program like AA to help you stay off the sauce (best case scenario) or go into some type of re-hab and therapy (worst case scenario) and you’ll have to change the way you go about your social life, family encounters and other interactions that might involve alcohol being served. If you don’t stop drinking, you are likely to become ill sometime down the line, and are more likely to die an early death (from disease or accident) and some people, that might be potentially great friends or mates for you, might avoid you, because they perceive you as a drunk or an alcoholic.

So everything that we do in life, always has to be weighed with the alternative. Usually when the bad alternative jumps up and bites you in the arse, that’s how you become motivated to change. If you never get bitten, you are not likely to change your ways.

You don’t always have to hit rock bottom to be “bitten”. Sometimes the motivators come in more subtle packages. Like having your child tell you that they are afraid that you will die if you keep smoking. Or having a friend get into a drunken driving accident (and realizing that it could have been you) Or seeing a relative, who came from meager means, make something of his life because he avoided hanging with the “wrong crowd” and “partying” and instead chose to focus on his education and choosing good mentors. Or hearing a lecture by a teenager who lost his best friend due to his friend’s wreckless driving practices.

obvek's avatar

Two things: 1. Observe 2. Remember who and what you are.

1. Often negative behaviors are done while not thinking too much about them. Making an effort to observe and be curious about them will naturally lead you to be conscientious about the behavior and curtail it over time. It’s important to let go of judgement as much as possible and to just focus on observing. The goal isn’t necessarily to stop the behavior right away, but to learn how to get better at not needing the behavior.

2. It helps if you have some kind of spiritual connection. It doesn’t really matter what it is so long as it feels like a good and supportive relationship. The purpose of the relationship in this context is to trade worries for assurance. So if it is old school God, then you give God your worries to take care of and receive assurance that you are okay and already have enough good things to fill your life. Alternatively, you might be more comfortable with the idea of a universal consciousness of sorts that is always available within you to call upon. In general, this is less about garnering strength to work against something so much as garnering the feeling that you’re already okay and that things are okay if only you open yourself to that reality.

marinelife's avatar

1. You write down your goal.

2. You start.

3. You keep going even if you have a misstep.

atlantis's avatar

Remember to reward yourself at small victories. The human brain is wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. If you get your brain to associate the new habit with pleasure, it will work quicker because it’s now is working according to its natural functioning.

Aside from that all of the tags for your question would also be a good place to start.

AmWiser's avatar

Anyone can change if they really want to, it’s called willpower.
Also, sometime your own bad habit will bite/kick you in the ass and you will have no excuse but to let it go.

aprilsimnel's avatar

When I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, I change. If I don’t, then I’m not tired, not really.

That’s what I’ve found to be true for me. I really do have to be mad as hell, and unable to take anymore.

dabbler's avatar

@marinelife has a bead on what’s needed, create the new reality.

One of the hardest things about letting go a well-worn habit is that will leave a void where it was. The habit you just let go fits perfectly and it’s so easy to let it plop right back where it’s just been evicted.

Make a goal, imagine the replacement behavior and replacement situation in as much detail as possible. Think about what’s different and in as much detail as possible how and why it’s different. Imagine yourself a month into the new paradigm. A year. Five years. Get to like the new you.
Step into your new shoes. Don’t just ditch the old shoes and try to get along barefoot.

chewhorse's avatar

Most all bad habits were once good ideas (in your mind) or else you wouldn’t have started it in the beginning. Sometimes these habits carry a life of their own so you must accept the off spring in order to enjoy the original desire. Take smoking, no amount of scare tactic or threat or even cost will deter you from something that you want. So you must be honest with yourself and admit that you choose to smoke.. Telling everyone that you smoke but would love to quit is doing nothing but making you feel inadequate. You must want to quit as much as you once wanted to start. Same applies in other things.. If your content of being yourself then your keeping yourself in situations that eventually became a part of you while you were content.. Your telling yourself that you want change as you begin to notice what you now see as bad habits.. It’s time to change, to become more than you are and say goodbye to those things you must escape whether good or bad (as they are both joined) but you must want to do this, not that you have to as that will cause failure.. WANT to do it.

krrazypassions's avatar

Think “This particular habit has been spoiling my life and I wont let it spoil my life any more”
and yell like a warrior yells before launching his attack and kick the ass of this evil habit!

May the force be with you! ^_^

Cruiser's avatar

Zero in on one thing that you want more than your distractions that are bringing you down and just do it!

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