Quitting a bad habit

Do you want to quit a bad habit? For example: sitting less on the couch or snacking less because you want to get into better shape? Fantastic!

You might want to use the “Psychology of Successful Change”.

Successfully quitting a bad habit requires 4 steps:

  • Make it invisible
  • Make it unattractive
  • Make it difficult
  • Make quitting pleasant

An example

Meet Mary. She has been retired for six months. After many hectic years with her family and a stressful job, she can finally devote more time to herself. She wants to become fitter and healthier so that she can enjoy an active lifestyle with her grandchildren for a long time to come. She therefore wants to stop unhealthy eating and snacking. 

Mary follows the 4 steps for “successfully quitting” a bad habit. 

 The first step: make it invisible.   

Mary stops buying sweets and unhealthy snacks. If others in the house do want to eat it, she asks them to buy it themselves and keep it out of her sight.

The second step is: make it unattractive.  

Mary changes her mindset, her way of thinking. She learns to “rethink. That is, she learns that everything has multiple sides; both attractive and unattractive. She learns that if you focus on the attractive side, it works like a magnet for you: you crave it. But if you focus on an unattractive side, it repels you. Mary learned about the unattractive sides of unhealthy eating and snacking. She now knows that it makes her dull and that her weight will increase. She definitely does not want that anymore.

She has also thought about why she starts snacking and why it is so attractive to her.

She does this when she is hungry, or tired, stressed, emotional or lonely, and also when she is bored. This insight is new to her. She did not know that she is an emotional/stress eater and that she sometimes undereats at main meals and satisfies her later hunger with unplanned unhealthy snacks. She wants to change this and try to meet her needs in moments like that.

When she feels hungry, she eats something healthy. When she feels tired, she takes a rest or has an early night. If she feels stressed, she does a relaxation exercise. If she feels emotional, she seeks a listening ear. When she feels lonely, she seeks contact or writes in her journal. And when she feels bored, she picks up a fun, interesting hobby or sport.

The third step is: make it difficult   

Mary makes a list of the right solutions for when she is hungry, or tired, stressed, emotional or lonely, and also when she is bored. Unhealthy eating and snacking is then no longer an ideal choice and thus becomes difficult. After all, she now has much better solutions for those situations.

The fourth step is: make stopping pleasant

Mary now listens more to her own needs and does what she can to meet them. She knows that the positive consequences that follow are worth it. Every time she feels the need to snack, she asks herself, “What do I really need right now?” and then she immediately thinks of the list of right solutions.

She starts with small steps. She starts on quiet days, because on those days she has capacity to try something new. After one week she already notices a lot of difference. She experiences more inner peace and the urge to snack reduces. Then she also tries it on busy days. That also goes better and better. After a month, she clearly feels fitter, happier and healthier.

You can do this too! Follow these 4 steps if you want to “successfully quit” a bad habit. Make it: invisible, unattractive, difficult and make quitting pleasant. 

Now you know how to quit a bad habit. Try it yourself; it really works! 

Do you want to learn how to start a new good habit? Watch the first part of this video.