Once you've repeated that habit over and over it becomes unconscious thought, something which you do without thinking. You enter a place, reach a certain time and it triggers a set pattern of actions based on something you've done often before. You eat a biscuit at a certain time, you drink a glass of wine sat in a certain chair or you begin to feel a fear when you approach that particular thing. You can be half way through the behaviour before you consciously realise you're doing it. It's become a learnt behaviour.
What if you don't want that habit anymore?
One way to change a habit is to understand it's purpose. What was the reason you started doing it?
- Social reasons
The list is endless, have a think what is the purpose of your habit?
Then create something else which matches the same purpose. Something you could do instead of the current habit.....if it serves the purpose even better than great.
- If you smoke for social reasons, create social experiences where you can't smoke.
- If you drink wine in the evening to relax, change the wine for lemonade but still relax.
Top tip: The easier substitutes are more likely to be carried out, not drinking wine and going to the gym instead is a big jump and harder to keep up than substituting the wine for lemonade.
Now every time you were going to do the old habit force yourself to do the new one. This takes some effort. Make a firm decision you're going to do this new thing and do it.....over and over and over.
They say on average it takes 26 times for your brain to recognise the new habit instead of the old one. (Think about how many times you put your old password into a system before you remember to use the new one.)
After a short while your brain will substitute the new behaviour for the old and voila you now have a new habit.
Important note: There has to be a motivation to change the habit, you have to actually want to change it. These techniques work but they can't work miracles.
Have a go and let me know how you get on.