To break the cycle of our bad habits it is useful to understand how they are formed and what keeps them in place. If we understand what caused them, then we can apply the right actions to change them.

Poor habits may be caused by any number of different events but what is important is that we ‘learnt’ them somewhere. As we grow up we experience a number of events; we are taught how live and we observe how things are done. As this happens, we interpret the information to create an understanding of how to live. For example, when dad is in a bad mood we learn to keep out of his way. As we grow older we may apply this to people who are angry or authority figures. This may have further impact upon our character in that we may become timid, fearful or angry because we perceive it as being unfair. When we experience these negative emotions we begin to look for comfort or release. The problem lies in what we find comforting and how we release the tension inside.

Here is a possible example:

The mouth is an area of comfort. The baby learns this as he/she latches onto the nipple of the mother. Later the nipple is replaced by a dummy, or as they say in the USA, a pacifier. Later when the pacifier is not available, it can be replaced with the thumb. Now whenever the child feels fearful, anxious or in need of comfort it will look for something to suck. At school it may be replaced with a pen or pencil and in later years with a cigarette.

As adults we may use cigarettes the moment we feel we are under pressure. This now becomes an instinctive habit. Unfortunately there is a side effect. We become addicted to nicotine and as our body become use to the nicotine it requires more to give a feeling of physical comfort.

Now, when we try to stop smoking, we concentrate mainly on the addiction side but forget about our deep-seated need for emotional comfort. In our effort to break the habit of ‘sucking on a cigarette’, we replace it with ‘sucking on sweets’. The result is that we may start putting on more weight. All we have managed to do is transfer the habit into another area.

Where do we start?

We need to enquire what is the ‘thing’ below the surface that is driving the habit. We need to deal with that at the same time applying all the aids to break the habit. We need to apply the tips that were outlined in the previous blog ‘Changing our habits’.

We must always bear in mind there was a time before the ‘habit’ took shape. We ‘learnt’ the habit somewhere, now we need to ‘unlearn’ it.