Bad habits can haunt you, like bad dreams that are hard to get out of, and that’s not so strange. Your brain is tricking you into thinking you are addicted. Fortunately, there is hope ahead if you sharpen your attention and find your true values.
- Do you also know that feeling where you just HAVE to have a piece of cake when the clock approaches the afternoon? Otherwise, you can not think of anything else?
- That you simply have to see if something new and exciting has appeared in your Instagram feed before you can move on with what you were actually doing?
- Or that you, with hidden joy, look forward to the children sleeping so that you can find the chocolate plate from the secret drawer?
Then you may have become so addicted to your bad habits that they control your everyday life more than you control them.
Your brain cheats you into an addiction to such an extent that it requires daily attention to change action patterns.
Expectation triggers dopamine – also known as the brain’s reward agent because it makes us feel comfortable – which drives you to act on your bad habits, even though you know it can have some negative consequences.
So it is not the cake at the baker that keeps you in its sugar habit; it is the cake in the brain. The expectation of the reward becomes more significant than the reward itself.
For example, if you’re a gambling addict, you’ll experience it as if you’re about to win all the time, and the dopamine release that comes with that feeling is dangerous because then you’ll keep playing, even though you lose. So it is the expected reward rather than the actual gain that is the problem with addiction. And the problem is the same whether you have a definite addiction or you simply get stuck in a series of bad habits.
The “expectation of reward” is the common ground for all forms of addiction. The dopamine release that comes with the expectation of the reward helps us maintain no matter what kind of addiction we are talking about.
4 Tips for Changing Habits:
- Rethink the situation you fell into and review what happened. The attention will help you the next time you experience the same
- Find out what makes you happier than the habit you want to get rid of. When you know it, it’s easier to put a stop to it and cultivate your new values.
- Change your habits. For example, if you have a hard time not buying sweets when you shop, make your purchases online. It is easier to choose the sweets from the screen than on the shelf.
- Remove yourself from the situations that tempt you. If you can not stop buying cakes, if you go to the bakery, then stay far away.
Why does an organ like the brain work so amazingly that way?
It’s when we try to solve a complex problem with an easy solution.
Many patients suffering from BED (Binge Eating Disorder) believe that if they could just lose weight, then their problems would be solved.
BUT BED is not a weight disorder, it is an eating disorder, and when eating is the problem, then it can not just be solved by a weight loss.
Or when gamblers think that if only they could pay their money back, then the problem was solved.
BUT the problem is not money, the problem is gambling addiction, and it does not go away because you pay your debts. It is trying to relocate a complex problem to a simple solution.
In order to do something about the bad habits, it is necessary to realise that this is what they are. Bad habits. It requires that you yourself can see there is a problem and that you have a desire to bring it to life.
The next thing is to become aware of what happens when the situation arises. This is where the automated actions and thoughts come in because the habits are often carried out without people knowing what is actually happening.
In order to do something about the bad habits, it is necessary to realise that this is what they are. Bad habits. It requires that you yourself see that there is a problem and that you have a desire to bring it to life.
The next thing is to become aware of what happens when the situation arises. This is where the automated actions and thoughts come in, because the habits are often carried out without people being aware of what is actually happening.
Rethink the specific situation and run it through in slow motion.
- What were you thinking?
- What did you do?
- How was the feeling in the body?
That way, you become aware of all the things that are happening that precede your action. Often a bad habit starts long before you even perform it actively.
Can you change a habit in 3 weeks?
21 days. It is often the magic number when the talk falls on changing a habit. And it is true that the body has some detoxification symptoms towards certain things so that after 21 days you no longer feel the urge as strongly as you previously did.
In addition, however, we also have a number of thought patterns that lead you into the given situations, and if you do not have the tools to change those thoughts, then in most cases you will end up in a relapse. Therefore, think of it as an ongoing process where you can work with your newfound tools all your life.
It is easier to avoid the cake if it is with the baker than on the table.
The more advanced agreements you make with yourself, the easier it is to avoid situations where you lose your self-control. It’s about noticing where the problem is and then finding a solution, so you help yourself not to put yourself in that situation.
A good way to find out the problem is to write a diary of the situations where you feel exposed. By writing them down, you remember them better, and then it is easier to work with specific situations.
The most important thing is to get an awareness of the problem, the next thing is to work on reducing the symptoms, and the third thing is to find new and better values.
You do this by noticing the discomfort of the bad habits.
For example, if you drink a lot of coffee every day and experience that you get a headache in the afternoon, then it is a concrete reminder of what the problem is. The next thing you need to notice is what values it gives you not to drink the coffee. You may not have to stand in line at a coffee shop every time you are out on the town or seek out the coffee machine at work all the time. All the situations where you notice that you feel better when you do something else. These are values.
If you are tired of being addicted to your phone, you may start to notice how much more eye contact you get with your children and how much more you laugh together when you put it away. Or maybe you pay much more attention to the weather and how nice a day it really is outside when you do not have your eyes fixed on your feed, or you simply have way more contact and interaction with the people around you.
When you experience those kinds of values and the joy of them, they often become greater than the behavior that the addiction is.
Learn from your mistakes
We all fall back on our bad habits from time to time, but we distinguish between mistakes and relapses. Error step is an isolated episode where relapse is that you return to a previous behaviour. Mistakes are perfectly okay; because we would like to learn from them. What happened in this situation and what can you do differently next time? If you quickly get back on the horse, you will also encounter these mistakes and deal with them better.
And if you find your authentic values, then the brain is ready to help you further. The brain that has actually cheated you into your bad habits, you can now use to remedy them again.
Yes, the brain cheats on you, and yes, the brain can be tough, but it is also a great tool to help you, because when you notice the things that make you happier to be you, it is suddenly much easier to relate to the joy of the short-lived expectation.