The Law of Habits
The older we get, the easier it is to describe or redefine negative traits/characteristics as "Bad Habits". We even go as far as to justify our lack of desire for change by stating that "bad habits are hard to break..."
So we end up with two things. We have first the assumption that bad habits can't be broken, and two, lack of acceptance for personality flaws. And one thing you all should know about me by now, is that I truly believe accepting deficits is the only way to rectify them. Because you will not fix anything you can't acknowledge is broken.
To ensure that we are all on the same page, personality flaws are those things we learn to change over time, after we are confronted with the reality of how bad our perception, response and/or behavior may be. For example, being short tempered is a personality flaw that typically doesn't get corrected until we "mature".
Because that's usually how long it takes for us to accept that our behavior is not ok, and develop a desire to correct it.
But nevertheless, there is a law to habits (whether good or bad), as most things in life, bad habits CAN be broken.
WHERE DO HABITS COME FROM?
I could share with you a thousand psychological reasons why we develop habits, but I can sum all of those explanations up with the following sentence:
Habits are developed through mental and emotional attachment to an act or experience, and the repetition of said act/experience.
Have you ever considered the emotional attachment to habits?
I think you'd be one of very few if you had up to this point.
Culturally, the idea of "habits" has been so watered down that we won't ever consider the emotional attachment to habits. And our emotional attachment is the primary reason habits become so hard for us to break. But again, we can't change things we won't acknowledge especially if we don't have the information for discovery.
Just like when you learned to brush your teeth in the morning, established the pattern of daily showering or developed the habit of taking a drink (alcoholic) after a hard days work (everyday). Each time you perform one of these acts, you are recalling that initial (or most memorable) experience, and are emotionally driven to complete the task, based on the desire to feel that emotional gratification (emotion). Or conversely, you could be driven to complete tasks to not feel negative emotions (repercussion from childhood or society associated with not showering, etc.)
And I would even go as far as to apply this methodology to addiction. On a very surface level, but feel free to call me crazy for establishing the relationship between habits and addiction, but I promise it has been done before.
Although I can agree with most that say addiction is more complex than habits, I must also state that bad habits can turn into addictions, and/or impulsive behaviors, that we can no longer control. I believe it's best to nip them in the bud while we still have that control, before they begin to control us.
SO HOW DO WE BREAK BAD HABITS?
Well that's easier than many of us think. First we have to decide!
Yes it's that simple. Literally all we need to do is choose to accept that the habit is bad and identify all of the negative affects and effects it has on our mind, body and/or life and decide not to experience that again.
When we choose to discontinue negative behavior it has to be actively discouraged and replaced/countered with a positive experience.
For instance getting the urge to be aggressive can be countered with taking a deep breath, and thinking or making an effort to identify the cause of the behavior. So, instead of lashing out on others, you'd simply take a breath and explore your feelings to identify what is the actual cause of your frustration. If we do this, and we can be honest, what many of us would discover is that we'd need to see a therapist to work through some of our unresolved issues. But I digress.
I truly despise the saying "I don't have a choice." because in this life, that is the one thing many of us do have. And the very thing that we unconsciously value least. We allow ourselves to be manipulated daily via the media (and social media) without choosing to read, research and decide for ourselves what we want to think, how we want to be, feel etc. We go along with societal norms and cultural expectations. We allow them to drive who we want to be, and we end up in a society where many of us look and act the same way. We lose our sense of individualism without desire to fight for it.
Knowing what you know now, what habits have you been battling? What habits do you need to break? Can you be honest about what habits you have not yet accepted? And will you CHOOSE to change them?