How Habits Are Formed
It takes about 18 to 254 days to form a new habit. This is according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in the year 2009.
Before a new behavior can become automatic, it will take 66 days, on average. This is also in accordance with the study.
The 3 main components of a habit formation are the cue, the routine, and the reward. This process of habit formation is called the Habit loop.
Starting with the first component, the cue, also known as the trigger, could be a scent, an event, a feeling, a person, an object, or any other thing at all.
The cue is whatever reminds you of the habit or prompts you to take an action. Simply put, the behavior you’re about to develop is encouraged by a trigger which is the cue.
Next, we move on to the other component which is the routine. The specific routine your brain has developed whenever a cue triggers your habit. You’re prompted to do something and then you started taking action to do it.
Your habit includes what you do before and after the habitual behavior. This means that your habits are also connected to your other actions because habits aren’t just one action or one step.
The last component, where whatever outcome you accomplish is the reward.
Your reward may be feeling better emotionally with the habit and because of the satisfaction you receive from the reward, you’ll have a higher tendency of constantly repeating the habit unconsciously.
The Basis of Habit Formation
Why Are Habits Hard To Break?
The reason why a bad habit is successfully carried out is because it’s never scrutinized by the brain. Habits are mostly unconscious behaviour and functioning on autopilot.
Consequential to the pleasing and rewarding feelings bad habits achieve when formed, they’re also ingrained in the mind.
We don’t think much about habits when we do them. These habits are programmed to make things happen even without our conscious efforts.
Comfort eaters will tell you they didn’t realise they got the bottom of the chip bag until there was nothing left. their actions were unconscious.
Smokers will say they smoked the whole cigarette without even realising it. Habits that are formed by repetition become automatic, unconscious behaviour.
And this is what makes it harder to break a habit. To break a habit means you need to be mindful that you’re doing it in the first place.
Types of Habits
There are several types of habits and they can be split into three types:
1. Habits of character
2. Intellectual habits
3. Motor habits.
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Habits of Character
In the course of forming habits, we tend to express some of our characters. These types of habits can also be referred to as emotional habits because they have a good notion of feelings and emotions.
For example, keeping your dress clean and tidy, working hard, time management, talking in a friendly way, being honest, trusting people, helping others who are in need, etc.
These types of habits are associated with our mental process that demands our cerebral capacities. Like testing conclusions and making decisions by using reasoning ability, logical thinking, accurate perception, good observation, analysing data etc.
Motor habits include maintaining particular postures of the body, doing exercise, walking, running, sitting, standing, etc.
These habits are associated with our physical actions and muscular activities.
Conscious Habits and Hidden Habits
Conscious habits and hidden habits are another two common types of habits. You can quickly review conscious habits yourself because they’re quite easy to identify.
In fact, these conscious habits have a high tendency of going away when you remove your attention.
Habits you can recognize easily are conscious habits. Some examples are smoking after a meal, working out every day, going for an evening run, or waking up to an alarm every morning.
Hidden habits make up most of our habits, and unlike conscious habits that you can identify with just a general review, these can be quite difficult to identify.
In most cases, it’s someone else that tends to point out some of these behaviors to us because they’re usually revealed by an external factor or source, since we’re generally completely unaware of them.
These habits can be very tricky because they work on auto-pilot mode by our brain.
When these habits are ‘acting up’, you may not be conscious of them because they’ve become a part and parcel of our decision-making process, lifestyle and conditioning.
How to Identify Your Hidden Habits
You’ll need to direct your attention to self-identify your types of habits. In the course trying to unravel your hidden habits, ask yourself these questions:
- How much water do you drink daily?
- Do you tend to slouch or sit/stand straight?
- How and when do you exercise?
- Do you tend to lay on the couch for long periods of time?
- What are the words or phrases that you tend to say a lot?
- Are there some gestures or actions that you tend to use?
- Do you make or avoid eye contact with people?
- Do you talk to people or avoid them?
- Fo you arrive early or late to appointments?
- How often and when do you snack during the day?
- What do you do when you wake up in the morning?
- What’s your everyday routine like?
- Each night right before bed, what pattern do you follow?
- How do you react to a negative news story?
- When you see a friend posting pictures of a luxury holiday on social media, what feeling do you get?
- When you receive criticism, what’s your first gut response?
- How do you cope with stress?
- What’s the frequency in which you check your phone for new notifications?
- How do you determine if a task is more important than another?
- Do you write a to-do list or act in the moment?
- Do you have a system for avoiding procrastination and getting things done?
Conclusion on Breaking Bad Habits
These questions are very important in helping you unravel your hidden habits and you’ll be shocked to see that they may help you figure out some things that you never even noticed or thought of at all.
You can even ask your close friends, a family member, or a partner these questions about you and they may even help you see it more clearly.
So, now you understand more about the types of habits we can create, how they are formed and why they can be hard to break.
This empowers you to make some choices on how you want live and what habits you want to have and what you want to change.
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