Many don’t care about habits because they think they are strong enough to control their actions. The reality is that the brain will lock into a habit whether you want it to or not. It will not ask for permission either. The brain also does not act any different based on if the habit is positive or negative.
The brain is in search of a reward. Once a cue triggers it, it does not care about anything else until it gets its desired reward. For example, you walk in the mall and smell the fresh cinnamon. Your brain starts craving that and you can’t think of anything else until you sink your teeth in one. Curse you Cinnabon! Your mind will treat this the same as a habit loop of working out or reading every day.
Your brain is locked in on the habit of eating donuts for breakfast. You don’t see it as being a big deal. After seven donuts, nothing happens. But after 365 days of this habit, your waste gets a little bigger. Before you know it, you don’t recognize yourself.
Why Should This Terrify You ?
This should be scary because you can build up a long list of negative habits with no warning. What makes this even more dangerous is the consequences any habit takes years to show up.
Think about it; the overweight person did not get there in one day. These things happen over a long period. Your brain is locked in on the habit of eating donuts for breakfast. You don’t see it as being a big deal. After seven donuts, nothing happens. But after 365 days of this habit, your waste gets a little bigger. Before you know it, you don’t recognize yourself.
This power can also be used for your benefit. If you can build up fat, then you can also build habits that can help you tear the that fat down. It's going to happen slowly, though, and it's going to make some new habits.
Why Do Negative Habits Seem to Have More of a Grip
For a habit of locking in, you must crave the result. Anytime you think of craving anything; there is a cue that has taken place that is making you do it. For example, the most epic habit loop I caught onto was rewarding myself with a bag of gummy bears after a long week.
Every Friday, I would come home and smash an entire bag in like five minutes. My brain saw this as a good thing. The tricky part was that I found a way to attach a bad habit to a good thing, so that made it even harder to point out. When I would finish my last task on a Friday, I would start to CRAVE those gummies.
When it comes to positive habits, it's much harder to build that craving. I crave working out because I have done so many in my life. But I never came to wanting to drink water. I do it because scientifically I understand the benefits, but I never crave it. The same thing happens to a lot of people with veggies. It's much easier to desire, meat, candy, chips, or starchy carbs.
How to Defeat Negative Habits ?
Most people want to start building good habits too quick. You may be thinking to yourself, “when will you teach me how to build habits?” The issue with doing this is that you can’t change things you are not even aware.
The best thing you can do is to start keeping track of your habits. Stop assuming that all your choices were made on the fly. When you skip that workout or crave that ice cream write it down. The goal is to start to dissect the habit loop.
You want to be aware of the cue, the action, and the reward that is taking place. The cue is the thing that happens that makes you start craving the reward. The habit action is what you do to get the reward. For example, someone may get anxious, and that makes them smoke, and smoking helps them to relax.
The awareness will help you pick our your positive and negative habits. The bigger picture though is that you will be able to to become aware of what is happening in your brain. After a month of doing this, you will become hyper-aware of habits. You will be able to interrupt your bad habits on the fly.