Changing habits is not something easy.” It may be that a person tries, mustering up the determination to quit the bad habit that led him to a social life that ( sorry , maybe) embarrasses himself and his family, but once that person starts a routine job, the habit appears and is done again.
As an example, someone who just calls his name Mandy (not his real name), has unusual habits for others. She used to bite her nails, chewed them until they bled. Here is a short story.
Mandy often bit her nails until she fell off the skin underneath. The tips of his fingers are covered with small scabs. The tips of his fingers had become dull without nails and sometimes felt itchy, a sign of nerve injury.
This nail biting habit has ruined his social life. He was so shy around his friends that he hid his hands in his pockets and, at times, would become busy moving his fingers into fists.
She had tried to quit by painting her nails in disgusting polish or had promised herself, from now on, she would quit.
But as soon as she starts doing homework or watching television, her fingers end up in her mouth.
The story is taken from the book The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Charles Duhigg, 2014: 73)
“But habits don’t mean they ca n’t be changed.” Habits can be changed, and we can build new habits that will lead to a prosperous life!
This paper will show how we change our habits, from old habits (harmful) to new habits (beneficial). Let’s get started!
Definition of Habit
In accordance with the definition we have made in the previous article , habits are actions or actions that are repeated over a period of time continuously.
In the practice of everyday life, habit can also be interpreted as an activity or activity that is carried out routinely or continuously even often without our conscious control.
Habits can be good habits or bad habits, beneficial or harmful. Good habits will bring the doer to luck, while bad habits will bring the doer to loss.
The emergence of habits
It has been mentioned above that changing habits is not something easy. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. So, habits can be changed!
In general, the picture of the emergence of a habit is as an illustration below.
At first a person gets a trigger for doing an activity or activity, then the person does the activity because of the trigger. And, when he does an activity, or finishes an activity, he feels a sensation of satisfaction or pride or a sense of relief as if he has completed a tough task.
Furthermore, every time that trigger appears, that person immediately performs the activity that has been done, and he also feels a certain sensation as a “gift” from doing that activity.
The activity is done repeatedly, each time a trigger appears for the sensation that is obtained after doing the activity. Even gradually, the activities carried out become automatic. Every time the trigger appeared, he immediately started doing his usual activities, and immediately a sense of relief appeared.
How to Change Habits?
To change habits, it is necessary to provide intensive treatment for the perpetrators. Habits that are physical in nature, generally it is easier to change them, namely by changing activities when the desire to do the habit arises.
For example, for Mandy’s case above. Before he bites his nails, he usually feels a kind of pressure on his thumb, itching. Then he started biting the nails on his thumb, moving on to the nails on the other fingers until he bit the nails on his fingers.
Having done that, he felt relieved, as if he had completed a special task.
For Mandy’s case, the therapy given was: whenever she felt itching or pressure on her thumb, she should immediately put her hand in her pocket, and keep holding it there until the itching or pressure on her thumb disappeared.
Seem simple? Yes, for others. But for Mandy herself, enduring the itching or pressure on her thumb in the pocket required a special struggle. Every so often he was tempted to take his hand out of his pocket and bite his fingernails when he felt itching or pressure on his thumb.
However, with her sincerity and hard work, Mandy was finally able to recover from the habit of biting her nails on her fingers.
Note: In the example of Mandy’s case above, we find three things, namely triggers / cues, routines, and gifts. Itching or pressure on the thumb is the trigger . Biting your thumb nails and then switching to other fingernails is routine . And a sense of relief as if it had been complete specific tasks after biting nails all the fingers of his hands is a gift ( reward ).
In that example, the trigger or cue remains the same. His routine was changed, from biting his nails to putting his hands in his pockets. The rewards certainly change because the routine changes. Probably still feeling relieved, but relief this one for having managed not to bite the nails on her fingers (avoiding bad habits).
For habits related to cognitive, the handling method is more complicated and requires more intensive treatment and a longer time.