Almost all of us have at least one bad habit. They can range from the very simple, leaving the mayonnaise jar out, to the extreme like substance abuse. Although some of them may not cause any more than a minor annoyance to those around us, the extreme ones can rule our life entirely. The good news is that we do not need to be controlled by our habits. We can take measures to ensure that our bad habits are good for all of those around us.
What Is A Bad Habit?
A bad habit is basically a pattern of negative behaviors. It is a negative in that we act out on these behaviors regardless of the influence of others. Conversely, a good habit is a pattern of positive behaviors that we act out on with some positive gain in mind, e.g. I am going to eat healthier so that I can have better heart health. Just a few examples of bad habits to help you understand the effect that they can have on you and others:
The Mayonnaise Jar
If you happen to like mayonnaise on your sandwich maybe you will relate to this example. It’s noon on Saturday. You just got home from grocery shopping and are starving. You put the groceries away then decide to reward yourself with a sandwich made with all the fresh ingredients that you just bought.
You lay out your bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and meat (if that is your thing), then take a big dollop of mayonnaise and spread it all over the sandwich. You closed the sandwich, put it on a plate, close the lid to the jar, grab a plate, then go sit down to watch the next episode of The Mandalorian.
After eating your sandwich your phone chimes, it’s a text from a friend, that is in town and wants to go see the sights. You put your shoes on, run out of the house, and 10 hours later, you get home. You walk into the kitchen and realize that you actually didn’t put the lid on the jar, nor did you take the knife out of the jar.
This newly opened jar of mayonnaise is ruined. You toss it in the bin, write mayonnaise on your list on the door, and realize that you need to run to the store tomorrow to get more mayo, because that is what is needed for a recipe.
Your partner gets home, looks at the list and says, “Did you forget to put the mayonnaise away again?”
If it was a one-off thing, it wouldn’t be considered a habit, but as this is a repetitive behavior on your part it has become a habit. Not only are you now out the cost of a jar of mayonnaise, twice, you also now have to spend a little bit more time at the store.
Maybe the admonishment you received was a little hurtful also. The mayo jar isn’t going to destroy your life, like a more extreme habit would, but at this point, the mayonnaise jar is ruling your life, just a little.
How Do You Fix A Bad Habit?
Like all other habits, bad habits form out of the same process. In order to replace the bad habit with a good habit, we need to take stock of the situation, make a plan for change, take action on that change, then maintain that change.
Research suggests that it can take anywhere from 15 to 243 days for a habit to be formed. It is only through repetition that these habits can be overwritten and replaced.
What If It Is A More Extreme Bad Habit?
Addiction is the number one extreme bad habit. It is not necessarily an addiction to drugs and / or alcohol; it can be an addiction to gambling, food, overspending, people and places. In these instances, it is best to seek outside help. It is only through learning a new way to live are the most extreme habits controlled.
If you or a loved one suffer from addiction or dependency, please reach out for help. A quick google search of 12 step recovery programs will give you a good source of free services to help with your needs. If that is not enough, treatment and therapy will help too. It is only through knowledge, not ignorance, can the battle of addiction be won.