I’m talking about the bad ones, of course.
I recently broke a bad habit. I didn’t just break it, I muthafrackin shattered it with my hardcore knuckle strength. (Yeah, I went there. Listen, I’ve been working out, what did you expect?) You know the kind of habit: It’s that thing that you do constantly that you hate, but can’t seem to stop. Every day, multiple times a day, for no reason other than it’s a habit. Well, maybe there are other reasons. But your fingers or mind or body just goes there, without consent from the rational and logical part of your being.
Unhealthy habits are the pits. I’ve been struggling with many of them my whole life. And this year, they all decided to moshpit on my psyche at once. It’s killer when you’re being suffocated by bad habits and you can’t seem to find the good ones that you had in place. One-by-one I’ve been riding myself of these bad habits. Drinking (check). Junk food (check). Eating poorly (check). Sleeping too much (check). Not exercising (check). Self-Hate (check). And now I can check this one off my list, too.
(As you can see, I’m being vague about my bad habit, because it’s personal and embarrassing.)
Yeah. So I finally broke that habit. After two years (+) I broke this daily habit that I despise more than anything. How did I do it? I still don’t know exactly. Because I’ve tried over the past two years to break it. Repeatedly. With no luck. I’d get a day or two if I was lucky, and then (fcksh&p%ss) I’d fall into the trap. Somehow, this time, it stuck. And breaking this habit has also helped with another bad habit: my social media addiction. I’m still on it too much, but at least now I’m not checking what I was checking. So basically I’m on it a lot less. And I’ve come to realize how emotionally unfulfilling the whole thing is.
It started with a conversation with a friend about, um, hair conditioner. Don’t ask. You don’t want to know. It ended in a come-to-jesus moment of self-awareness. My habits were not only harmful to myself, but to the people I love. This particular one made no sense, served no purpose, and was just dragging out unnecessary emotional turmoil that I didn’t need. (I argued that it did no such thing – that it was simply a habit. My friend didn’t let me get away with spewing such vomit.) I’ve had enough conversations with different friends over the past two years regarding this habit and wanting to stop it. I don’t know why this one stuck. But it did. It was almost like a challenge. I have a need to prove myself to this friend sometimes, so that might have been a contributing factor.
But ultimately, I have to (and want to) prove it to myself. This particular habit wasn’t directly harmful to anyone (maybe me?), but it was just so pointless and stupid. I don’t need to do that thing I was doing. I don’t need to know. Those clicks and finger swipes were just driving me crazy and even though I didn’t “care” about what I saw, it made no sense to even check. Somehow, I managed once and for all to convince myself of that fact. Thankfuckinggod.
It feels good to break a bad habit. I feel emotionally lighter and more in control of my being. I’ve been doing such amazing work on myself lately, this is just another hat tip to myself for a job well done. Bad habits aren’t cool. And I am. So let’s just eradicate them one-by-one. And this one — it was a long time in coming. It feels great to let go.
Here’s a self-reflection challenge: What’s a bad habit that you want to break? Make a list of bad habits and PICK ONE to work on eliminating from your life or daily routine. Don’t try and rid yourself of all of them at the same time. (For instance, my nail biting increased substantially after breaking this habit. I need SOMETHING to do with my hands. And residual anxiety is common.)
Try it for a day — see how it feels. If you made it a day, go for another. If you broke it, instead of beating yourself up, just try again the next day. FORGIVE YOURSELF. You are human. You are flawed. If you allow yourself to be human, the success rate will be that much higher. When you have the urge to do the bad habit, ask yourself what purpose it serves. What satisfaction do you get from it? What are the emotional, mental, or physical consequences of doing that habit? Does it hurt others in addition to being unhealthy for you? If you remind yourself why it’s a “bad” habit, you’re more likely to stick with breaking it. See if you can go a week! I’m on a 12-Day streak and counting! There’s no going back for me now.
Bonus challenge: Try replacing your bad habit with a good, healthy habit. Every time to get to urge to do X, do Healthy Y instead. I didn’t do this exactly, but instead of doing my X habit, I would do something else that was related (social media) but not unhealthy for me. The healthier the replacement habit, the better off you are.
The most important thing is to believe in yourself and your capacity for self-restraint and to love and forgive yourself for making mistakes and being flawed.
You’re fabulous! You got this!