Why you have unhealthy habits

A habit begins with a choice that slowly turns into a subconscious automatic behavior that we start to repeat without thinking about it. The great thing about habits is that they help you do all kind of things without having to think about it, like brushing your teeth before going to bed or locking the door before going away. You hardly think about it, you just do it and it’s often very convenient.

But then you develop unhealthy habits

Our mind is wired to learn these habits and keep developing new ones along the way. This leads to the development of unhealthy habits as well: everything we do repeatedly creates neurological shortcuts in our brains, paths, that are easily used for repetition. These habits can just a well be unhealthy. With unhealthy I mean habits that are not adding in a positive way to your well being: you can simply think about basic things like certain eating habits, watching too much television or creating negative thoughts. In an article I read the following quote about the neurological effect of how we create habits:

The brain hardwires everything that we repeatedly do – this is how habits are formed. So the stories we tell ourselves over and over become default paths, the circuitry the brain naturally activates.

Forbes.com – https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2020/02/11/the-neuroscience-behind-habit-change/

How do you change a habit?

The answer to how you change a habit is in theory simple: You form new neurological paths in your brain, that support the new behavior. But now the complicated part arrives: how do you stop doing the things that are unhealthy and replace them with ones that actually add to you well being? Again, simple said, it comes down to intercepting the habits you have found out not to be very helpful. The second part is learning new habits by repeating things that actually are helpful. And both take time. A lot of time.

So you might be thinking: how is this helpful? Well I know that with understanding comes acceptance, so while you start to understand why change takes time and effort, you will also know that it’s possible and why it takes time and effort. Talking about changing a habit: Let’s start with stopping the habit of thinking this is not something for you. It is something for you and it is something you can do: you’ve shown this by adopting so many habits, now we only need to start making habits that we actually find useful.

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