How to Break Bad Habits

Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.

Habit plays a very much larger part in our lives than many of us realize. It has its effect on everything we do. Our life is made up of an enormous collection of habits. Some are good and some are bad. The continual practice of the good ones enriches our life. The practice of the bad ones impoverishes us.  Nathaniel Demons said: “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters”. Our aim is to see how we can make habit the best of servants, ridding ourselves of bad habits and inculcating good ones.

Here are five steps worth following:


1. We must truly want to abolish bad habits:

     We say we would like to rid ourselves of a bad habit, or the hold it has over us, but unfortunately we often enjoy the habit itself. Sometimes contemplation of the consequences can lead to amendment.

     Using the smoking habit as an example, some people give it up when they calculate how much they spent  say, for the past ten years. Others give it up because of health risks. Whatever that may be they want to conquer the habit.

2. Consolidate thought and feeling by action.

     Thinking, feeling and willing all play their part in the building up of habit patterns. But thought and feeling alike can quickly be dissipated if they are not consolidated by some definite piece of action. Mark Twain: “A habit cannot be tossed out of the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time”. This means we do not need to set some immediately an impossible aim before ourselves, but we must be prepared to stop for one day – and then another, and another. Each successful action of this kind makes the next one easier.

3. Publicise your resolution:

      If nobody knows about our resolution then nobody knows if we break it. Much of our social behaviour is determined by social approval or disapproval. Certainly, few of us like to be thought weak – willed. It will help the strengthening of our resolution if there are those who know about it.

4.  New habits for old:

     The only effective way is to replace bad habits with good ones. Each time a particular temptation afflicts us, we must banish the thought from our mind by replacing it with  another. The undesirable thought is replaced by a desirable one. The two cannot be held simultaneously in the mind.

5. Use the visual and verbal methods of habit – building:

      The eye and the ear are great aids to the establishment of habitual thinking and acting. For example: “I drink spiritual refreshment as a habit just as I drink water”. To read such an affirmation slowly, confidently, and constantly is to plant it deeply in the subconscious mind.


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