Do you get angry with your spouse often? Does anger become one of your habit? How to overcome such habits which we want to avoid?
Habits – Something which everyone possesses and all of us uses it daily, right from morning to night. Everyone has both good and bad habits (Which is good and bad is up to you :)).
You might have found it difficult to change some of the habits, which you want to avoid. It can be eating more junk food, getting angry often, checking your facebook page often etc.. These habits are hard to break. How to break such habits and build a better habit?
Let me share my experience of breaking one of my habits. I had the habit of having 3 coffees a day. I want to reduce the coffee consumption since many of my relatives are diabetic. So, the more coffee I have, more sugar I will intake which will increase my chances of getting diabetic.
3 months back, I found it hard to overcome my coffee habit. Nowadays I’m having only 1 coffee a day and not 3. So, how did I achieve it?
I found out the answer in the book which I read recently – ‘The POWER OF HABIT – Why we do what we do and how to change’ by Charles Dugigg. (Such a brilliant book. I recommend it!)
So, to change a habit let us understand how a habit works. Every habit follows something called as ‘Habit Loop’. Every habit has these 3 components in it:
1) Cue – The trigger for a habit
2) Routine- The habit you follow
3) Reward – A reward that you get after following your routine.
Let us apply this example for our habit – ‘Brushing’.
Cue –Your dirty teeth
Routine – Brushing (Which is your habit)
Reward – Fresh breath and glittering teeth
If you take any habits, it will follow this loop of Cue, Routine and Reward.
Coming back to my coffee problem, my initial habit loop looked like the below:
So, the author suggests, whenever you want to change or break any habit, he mentions to keep the cue and reward constant, but change the routine.
So, if you look at my coffee experience, my real need is not a coffee. My need is a briskness feel which is the reward I required. So actually, I needed a short 5 to 10 mins to take break from my work which will de-stress me and give me sufficient energy to re-focus on work once I come back. I used this short break to have a coffee and became addicted to it.
So, I decided to keep the same cue and reward and decided to change my routine. So, whenever I feel tired (Cue), I take a break from work and go to my friend seat to have a chat for 5 mins (Routine).
With this, I was able to successfully change my habit loop. Instead of having coffee every time I feel tired, I started following a different routine (Talk with coworker, Eat fruits) and I was able to reduce my coffee consumption.
When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically.
So next time, you want to change a habit or you want to change the way you react when you are about to get angry with your spouse, identify the cue, routine, rewards and focus on changing your routine. It works!