How do we make habits?

Habits are created through a process called habit formation. This process involves three steps:

  1. Cue: A cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and perform a behavior. For example, the smell of coffee might be a cue that tells you to make a cup of coffee, when you get anxious you may bite your nails.
  2. Routine: The routine is the behavior itself. In the example of the smell of coffee, the routine might be to go to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee.
  3. Reward: The reward is something that your brain likes that helps it remember the habit loop. In the example of the smell of coffee, the reward might be the feeling of caffeine coursing through your veins or the action of biting your nails may make you feel less stressed.

When you repeatedly perform a behavior in response to a cue, your brain creates a neural pathway that connects the cue to the routine. Over time, this pathway becomes stronger and stronger, and the behavior becomes more automatic.

Habits can be either good or bad. Good habits can help you to achieve your goals, while bad habits can sabotage your efforts. If you want to change a bad habit, you need to break the habit loop. You can do this by:

  • Identifying the cue: The first step is to identify the cue that triggers the behavior. Once you know the cue, you can start to avoid it or change it.
  • Changing the routine: The second step is to change the routine. This might mean replacing the bad habit with a good habit, or it might mean finding a new way to respond to the cue.
  • Reducing the reward: The third step is to reduce the reward. This might mean finding a way to get the same reward without performing the bad habit, or it might mean finding a way to enjoy the reward less.

Changing a habit takes time and effort, but it is possible. 

Here are some additional tips for changing habits:

  • Be patient: It takes time to change a habit. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately.
  • Be consistent: The more consistent you are with your new habit, the more likely it is to stick.
  • Make it easy: Make it easy for yourself to do the new habit. This might mean setting up reminders, putting things in convenient places, or finding a partner to help you.
  • Reward yourself: When you do the new habit, reward yourself with something you enjoy. This will help you to stay motivated.
  • Try Hypnosis: A proven strategy to reduce bad habits and encourage good ones.
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