The Incentive to Quit Bad Habits


Dr. Purushothaman
January 12, 2014


We have all got bad habits that we would like to quit. Some might be more noticeable than others and some, like overeating, might be life threatening. Whichever way you look at it, bad habits, no matter how big or small are darned hard to quit.
Bad habits are a multimillion dollar industry. Just think about how much money is spent on quit smoking or weight loss programs. Next time you go shopping take a look at the products available to help you quit biting your nails, and you will see what I mean. If breaking bad habits was easy the industry wouldn't exist.
Well-meaning friends are always quick to offer advice; I mean how hard can it be? You are overweight, just eat less. Problem solved.
The truth is, you don't need to be told why the habit is bad for you. You know all the reasons why you should give up your bad habit, so all the well-meaning advice goes straight over your head. It would be much more helpful if people were more positive about the advice they gave. It is more important to know about the positive, up side of stopping the bad habit. Thinking about good results is more likely to trigger an incentive to quit.
If knowing the reasons why a habit is bad for you, or the advantages of giving it up were all that was needed, you would have given up the habit long ago. What is needed is the will power to make it happen, but how do you get that?
Incentive is what you need and I don't mean that you could save money if you gave up smoking, that is just another up side to giving up the habit. What I mead is something new, some angle that has not occurred to you before, a moment when the light goes on.
It is often surprising what triggers the incentive to quit. Here is an interesting example. I have just read a story about a young woman who put on so much weight she was virtually a recluse. At a size 26 she was clinically obese,and age 20 unable to enjoy life. The incentive came when her boyfriend told her that he was sick of leading half a life. He didn't worry about her weight, he just wanted them to get out and enjoy life. That was the trigger. She loved him and wanted him to be happy, so she started a serious weight loss program. Of course she wanted to lose weight for herself, but the incentive was never there. Her boyfriends wish for them to enjoy themselves provided that incentive.
Bad habits that are well entrenched are always going to be difficult to quit, but it's amazing what results people can achieve when something triggers the incentive. Years ago I knew a woman aged thirty who had bitten her nails all her life. One day she saw me apply cuticle cream to my nails. I had just got engaged and was wearing a diamond ring, so was giving my nails extra care. She had also become engaged but was embarrassed about her nails which were bitten to the quick. She purchased some cream, applied it every day and set a goal to have long nails by her wedding day. She could have stopped biting her nails at any time, but it was the wedding that became the incentive.
Reason's are not incentives; reasons why a habit is bad for you is not going to make you quit. Find an incentive and you will stand a chance. Of course this doesn't mean you should carry on with a bad habit until an incentive presents itself. You should always be trying to give up, especially if the habit is damaging your health or well-being.
Once you've decided to quit your bad habit avoid telling friends and family. Especially if you've tried giving up before and failed. If you do feel the need to share, make sure it is someone supportive, you don't need others to gloat if you slip up.
Take a good look at your situation and work out a strategy for dealing with it. Smokers for instance say smoking gives them something to do with their hands; by keeping their hands busy they can lessen the need to light up so often.
Everyone deals with bad habits differently; as far as solutions go one size does not fit all. Finding an incentive that will work for you is the key to correcting bad habits
Remember, you're always too young to start a bad habit and never too old to give it up.

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