What’s something you do that drives you crazy?
What behavior, thought pattern, or other activity do you engage in that makes you feel guilty, shameful, or weak?
We all have bad habits that we do. And the worst part is that we usually KNOW that they’re bad for us – they detract from our health, be it mental or physical, or they’re simply not in line with our values…
Yet we can’t stop ourselves from doing them.
Some common bad habits guys have include:
- Mindlessly browsing the internet
- Eating fast food or similar “junk foods”
- Watching internet porn
- Compulsively thinking about an ex-girlfriend or crush
- Being too much of a “nice guy” and trying to please everyone
- Engaging into pointless arguments and fights
These are all behaviors that are common for men to engage in despite believing that they SHOULDN’T. And this knowledge – that you’re doing something you’d feel better about yourself if you didn’t do – is often what makes these habits so “bad”.
When we do something that we don’t want to, we can start to beat ourselves up, feel guilty or shameful, and subsequently have poor self-esteem or even fall into depression.
Below I want to offer a universal two-step “cure” for working towards eliminating any such habits that you have in your life.
Step 1: Stop yourself before you start
You have true power over your bad habit when you can stop it before it starts.
Depending on what type of habit you’re dealing with, this can be relatively manageable or really fucking hard.
For example, concrete habits like eating fast food or watching porn are on the easier side of the spectrum because they require a deliberate action in order to begin – a double bacon cheeseburger doesn’t mistakenly find its way into your mouth.
On the other hand, habits like compulsively thinking about a girl or mindlessly browsing the internet are quite hard to stop before they start, because they usually don’t have a well-defined starting point – by the time you realize you’re doing it, it’s already too late.
My favorite three techniques for avoiding engaging in a bad habit include:
- Replacing the bad habit with a good one (e.g. eating a yogurt instead of McDonald’s, reading a book instead of browsing the internet, or focusing on your breath instead of thinking about something that drives you crazy)
- Changing your environment (e.g. leaving your computer room when you get the urge to watch porn, or calling someone and engaging them in conversation when you’re alone and you start to get into a negative thought loop)
- “Changing your identity” – this is tough but essentially you need to start thinking of yourself as someone new (e.g. you’re a “healthy” eater who doesn’t eat nasty fast food, you’re a man who has real sex instead of watching other people do it on a screen, or you’re a free single man instead of a depressed loner)
Step 2: Be OKAY with it when you do it
Any and every bad habit that you struggle to eliminate from your life will continue to happen to some degree.
This is INEVITABLE.
You simply cannot beat yourself up when you slip up. Dwelling on the fact that “you did it again” will ONLY – and I mean ONLY – make you feel bad and make you more likely to slip up.
You’ll start to view yourself as a weak man, a failure, and a degenerate who simply cannot control himself. You’ll start to feel shitty and depressed. And you will undermine your success, confidence, and happiness in the process.
When you do slip up and do the bad habit, you must accept that it happened… AND THEN MOVE ON.
Thinking about it will only make it worse at this point. You won’t “think yourself” out of the situation. That shit doesn’t work. Ever.
By simply acknowledging that you did something that you prefer not to do and having the strength to move on, you’ll subconsciously be more aware the next time you’re in a similar situation and be more likely to put Step 1 into practice and avoid doing the thing. Our subconscious minds are powerful – let them do their job.
Here are three techniques I use to avoid beating myself up when I relapse on “bad” habits:
- The “I love myself” affirmation – basically just repeating “I love myself” in order to remind myself that while I did slip up, my self-respect is still intact and it’s nothing that can break me
- Meditation – A solid meditation clears my mind and allows me to stop compulsively thinking and worrying about the bad habit or the fuck-up
- Giving myself permission to fuck up again – while this might seem counter-intuitive, we often put tremendous pressure on ourselves to NEVER EVER mess up again, when the truth is that history is likely to repeat itself…
If the frequency you engage in your bad habit is declining, then you’re on the right track… Always keep in mind that being self-aware and not beating yourself up are the two keys to kicking any bad habit in a healthy, sustainable manner.