You can do it

The psychology behind breaking bad habits

It comes down to three easy steps.

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Sometimes we eat too much, or stay up too late staring at our phones, or skip morning yoga.

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It’s easy to prescribe faults in personality like “laziness” or “apathy” to someone (or ourselves) for having bad habits.

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As social psychologist Wendy Wood explained to Inverse, our good or bad performance is a reflection of habits — not our desires or goals.

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And thankfully, these bad habits aren’t entirely our fault. It turns out, any habit is incredibly hard to make or break.

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It’s easy to say to yourself that you’re going to put your phone down at a certain time every night or go for a run after work, Woods explains, but it’s actually much harder to follow through with those goals than we think.

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People tend to punish themselves too harshly if they fail to perform a good habit (or fail to avoid a bad habit).

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The most important thing for making or breaking habits, Wood explains, is changing our environment.

Here are three things to keep in mind when trying to make or break a habit.

1. Remember that habits take about 2 months to develop or break, and don’t beat yourself up if you mess up once or twice.

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2. Make the habit enjoyable. Turn on your favorite TV show while you clean the bathroom or stop for a smoothie after a run. Associating the habit with something pleasurable can help the habit stick.

3. Repeat on a regular basis. Again, it takes about 2 months to form or break a habit. Be patient and do your best to repeat the action.

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Read more Mind and Body stories here.

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