The Psychology Of Bad Habits - Deepstash

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Want to Break a Bad Habit? Science Says Do These 4 Things

The Psychology Of Bad Habits

Habits are comprised of cue, routine and reward. The cue triggers a routine, and the routine generates a reward.

The habit loop is powerful and hardwired into our psyches, which explains why it is so hard to shake. We actually never break bad habits, but replace them with more positive alternatives.

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Set Better Goals

Be specific on how you’ll implement goals into your daily life. Examining how you’ve responded to the situation in the past and determining what you can do to avoid reverting to the old h...

Have a Better Reason For Quitting

Even if you replace a “bad” habit with a better one, sometimes the original vice will have a stronger biological “reward” than its substitute. This is where the importance of having an intrinsic motivation comes into play.

If that is the case, find as many benefits to the change as you can and try to use them as extra motivation.

Replace a Bad Habit With a Good One

The more you suppress your thoughts, the more likely you are to think about that thought or even revert back to that bad habit. Instead of trying to stop doing something,  it’s easier to do something else.

Chunking - The Root of Habits

The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine is known as ‘chunking,’ and it’s at the root of how habits form.

Habits emerge...

...because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. 

It will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage. 

The 3 Step Loop of Habit Formation:
  • First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
  • Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.
  • Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.
The Habit Loop
The Habit Loop

The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue.

Together, these fo...

5 primary ways that a new habit can be triggered
  • Cue 1: Time - Most common way to trigger a new habit
  • Cue 2: Location - Most powerful driver of mindless habits and also the least recognized
  • Cue 3: Preceding Event - Many habits are a response to something else that happens in your life
  • Cue 4: Emotional State - emotional state is a common cue for bad habits
  • Cue 5: Other People - people you surround yourself with can play a role in your habits and behaviors.