Think about it. Think back to when you’ve tried to beat a bad habit. Maybe it’s a habit of zoning out for hours in front of the tv. Maybe it’s eating food to cheer you up. Smoking. Chewing your nails.
If you beat that habit, how did you do it?
I bet it wasn’t by sheer willpower. If you did, then it clearly wasn’t a deeply ingrained habit.
If you think hard, you’ll realize it was because you replaced the habit with something else.
Think about that for a second:
You can’t beat a bad habit, you can only replace it with a good one.
If you love chocolate (like I do), do you use it as your go-to comfort food? Or do you appreciate it as it should – in moderation and as something to enjoy? I don’t eat it very regularly, but when I do it’s something I savour and take my time over. But it’s never a pick-me-up.
How’s your relationship with chocolate? 🙂
If it’s your go-to comfort food and you don’t want that sort of a relationship, how are you going to put it in its place?
Do you really think you’ll be able to resist a few squares when you’re really feeling down? And once you have a few, will you “just have a few more”?
Be honest, when you’re really feeling miserable, do you seriously think you’ll be able to resist the habit at that time?
If that’s your default comforting mechanism, there’s NO WAY you’ll be able to resist at that point.
It’s not even about the chocolate, really. Is it? It’s about feeling better.
So how do you beat it?
Replace eating chocolate with something else as your default way of comfort.
Make it something you really enjoy (or it’s not going to work). Do you like reading? Working out? Eating fruit? Listening to music? Drinking tea?
Just pick something that you decide is a healthier alternative to eating chocolate to cheer up.
Now practice mentally reaching for the chocolate, then stopping yourself and doing that thing you chose.
Do it ten or so times. Really try to imagine the situation with all your senses and feel good about making the better choice.
You might reach for the chocolate, say “no”, pull your hand back and reach for or do the other thing instead.
Every now and then, when you think of it or find yourself starting to want the chocolate, just mentally rehearse doing the other thing instead. Or just go do it.
If you REALLY want the chocolate, then you really need to go do the other thing.
At first, you’re brain will fight you. It’s used to going down the path of eating chocolate to feel better. It’s just the part of your brain that’s like a little child and doesn’t fully understand that there’s a better way.
You have to fight back because you know what’s good for you.
Make sure you do this every single time you’re in this situation.
Then one day, as if by magic, you’ll catch yourself reaching for the fruit or the book. When you realize that, take a moment… You’ve just beaten a bad habit by replacing it with a good habit.