Nail Biters! Chocolate Sneakers! Knuckle Poppers! Alarm Snoozers!
There are a lot of common habits people want to break. But, honestly “habits” they do get a bad rap. We can establish good habits just as easily as establishing bad ones and even establish new habits in place of less desirable ones. A little awareness and some intentional action on your part will make a big difference.
So, let’s understand what we are talking about when we say “habit”. A habit is more than just a repetitive behavior. It is an automatic behavioral pattern that occurs spontaneously. Habits are caused by performing a behavior repeatedly and consistently. Three distinct pieces that create what’s known as a habit loop. If you’re going to break old habits and create new ones is imperative that you understand the cue-behavior-reward loop.
The three pieces that make up the habit loop are
1 . THE CUE is any trigger that provokes us to perform a behavior. An example of a cue would be: In your car, when you hear the dinging sound it triggers you to put your seatbelt on or turn your lights off before exiting the vehicle. Also, meals are a common cue for smokers.
2. THE BEHAVIOR is the action of performing the routine (the habit itself).
3. THE REWARD is the incentive for doing the behavior this is what makes you want to continue this behavior. Examples: calmness, focus, relief, energizing.
Two Steps to breaking old habits
Step one: You need to identify and understand your unique cue behavior reward loop. Think about what triggers this behavior, what are you doing, who are you with, what did you just do, what are you about to do, what didn’t you do, how do you feel mentally, emotionally, physically?
Step two: Replace the behavior. Find a way to use the same cue and reward system but incorporate a different behavior.
Why we focus on the behavior
Changing a cue and the reward requires a tremendous amount of willpower, sometimes major life changes, or is impossible. Believe it or not, the behavior is the easiest part of the loop to change. What you have done is put yourself in charge of that behavior. You may not have the ability to affect the cue, as it may be completely out of your control. And the reward may be a physical reaction your body does automatically. So, the easiest, and most effective way to change a habit is to focus on the behavior.
Understanding what is going on when you get cued, the behavior itself, and the reward it gives you the power to decide what you are going to do instead. Make plans to make a different decision about what behavior you are going to choose next. Keep up with it! Remember, performing a behavior repeatedly and consistently is what builds a habit.
You can do this.