6 Steps to Breaking Your Bad Habit

Dr. Angela Browne-Miller, an expert on habits and addictions, has successfully helped hundreds of FOFs correct their bad behaviors–from nail biting and overspending to alcoholism and sex addiction. Her secret: A 6-step program she calls: “Rewire Yourself and Go Conscious.” Here, she explains how you can break a bad habit, whether you’ve had it for two years or twenty.

  • FOF: How do bad habits happen?
    • When something is habitual, it is out of our conscious control. It can take a positive or negative path. If I come to a red light and automatically stop, that’s a good habit. I don’t really have time to say, “How do I stop this car? Where do I put my foot?” We are programmed biologically to form good habits for survival. But our programming can run awry and become self destructive.
  • FOF: Do women over fifty struggle more with breaking a bad habit? Is it true that the longer someone practices a bad habit, the harder it is to break?
    • Dr. Angela: It varies, but almost always, yes. The longer you do something, the more you have burned that pattern into your neurological system.
  • FOF: How long does it take to correct a bad habit?
    • Dr. Angela: The truth is, from one week to a hundred years. I can help some of my clients very quickly. I’m finishing with a couple of clients who I worked with for a year. They are doing very well, but they all know it takes a lifetime of staying on it.

Dr. Angela’s 6 Steps To Breaking a Habit:

Note: Some problem habits and addictions are dangerous. If your behavior is harming yourself or others, you must seek professional help right away.

1. Nail-biting? Oversleeping? Snacking at night? Pick and recognize a habit that you are ready to address. Habitual behavior happens on a subconscious level. ImageYou must pull the behavior into your consciousness before you can correct it.

2. Identify and describe the specifics of the problem behavior. Answer these questions:

-What time of day does your habit occur?

-When does it show up?

-What triggers your habit?

-What is it like?

3. Use these tracking sheets, a journal or a log to keep track of your bad habits for a minimum of 90 days. Even busy women can take the time to do this. Make entries multiple times a day and even at night.

4. Look for larger life patterns that are part of your problem habit. For instance if your bad habit is watching too much television, you may notice you primarily do it after fighting with your spouse.

5. Identify one small change you can practice each day. Make sure these changes are gradual. Try to add one more small change each day or every few days. Keep going. Some examples:

-If you have 5 cups of coffee a day – go down to 4 and a half.

-If you press the snooze button every morning, don’t throw the clock away or buy one without a snooze button. Instead, move the clock farther away from the bed each day so you have to reach further and eventually stand up and walk to reach the clock.

6. Recognize problem habits and addictions for which you need outside help. Some habits and addictions embed within us so deeply that we need someone else to help us break them. If after 90 days you see no change in your behavior, seek help from a professional.

What bad habit would you love to break? Share it below.

Author
Dr. Angela Browne-Miller
PhD, DSW, MPH

Angela Browne-Miller, PhD, DSW, MPH, is an expert on habits and addictions. She is the author of over twenty books, including REWIRING YOURSELF TO BREAK ADDICTIONS AND HABITS. She is the Founder of Addiction Stoppers and Director of Browne and Associates Violence, Substance Abuse, and Trauma Treatment and Prevention Program. She earned two doctorates and two masters degrees at the University of California and has served as a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Fellow. She can be reached at AngelaBrowne-Miller.com or DoctorAngela@aol.com.

9 Responses to “6 Steps to Breaking Your Bad Habit”

  1. Dr. Angela says:

    Hello,
    I apologize. My webmaster is having some technical difficulties. Anyone in need of info from the website posted here can email me directly while we await the repair of the technical glitch.

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  2. mlcarnelli says:

    I would like to download the tracking sheet but the link sends me an “unkown page”, could you fix it? Thank you so much. I have a bad habit of biting my lips and my fingers…. cant take it out. For ages i’ve been doing so! Laura

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  3. sexyandfit says:

    I smoked for almost 40 years. I quit when I was pregnant and all through breastfeeding but once they turned 1 it was right back to smoking(We never smoked around the kids) In fact my daughter didn’t know I smoked till she was almost 12. Anyways,I had tried to quit time after time after time but right back to it. This particular day,this time I would do it because of a comment my teenage son made one day,he said…”MoM,you sound like a broken record)……….SLAP aH Haaaaaaa moment!!!

    So I wrote a quit date on my calendar,and everyday I would say April Fools day is the day I become a non smoker.everyday!!!

    April fools day came,I quit,everyone thought it was a joke hahaha well the joke was on them wasn’t it??

    I’ve now been smoke free for 2 years,4 months and 25 days!!

    YAY ME!!!

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  4. Birdy (Norma Morgan) says:

    This is a bad habit I broke a little over two and a half years ago. I had a bad smoking habit, and I wanted to stop. I had tried several things and they did not work for me. So I decided to buy the next carton, I asked the woman behind the counter what was the cheapest, nastious, stinking cigarettes she sold. Well I bought the carton. The first pack wasn’t really too bad. As I got to the nest couple of packs they got worse with each cigarette. At the time I was an over-the-road truck driver. As I kept smoking, I smoked less and less of the cigarette, maybe take two or three puffs and had to put it out because I could stand it. By the time I returned home, the idea of smoking almost made me gag. I did go out onto the patio to have a cigarette, and starting gagging, and this was my wake-up call to get off them. I put the cigarette out, took all remaining cigarettes, lighter, asktray – everything put in a bag and put in trashcan. I have not smoke a cigarette since then. Nor do I ever want to again. The smell now about makes me sick.

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  5. kkaminski2952 says:

    Biting my lips and cheeks. Have had this habit since I was a girl.

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  6. GardenLilly says:

    Biting my nails! Hate it!

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  7. Dr. Angela says:

    A great deal of personal change including habit breaking can be accomplished by making a small change each day or every few days, and then sticking to this change while adding another small change and then another. Of course, for life threatening addictions, get professional help immediately. DrAngela@DrAngela.com

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  8. jdmteddy says:

    I am quick to jump to conclusions and usually in a negative fashion, I want to stop this behavior

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  9. SaraWald says:

    I always oversleep! I can’t wait to try Dr. Angela’s 6-steps to help be correct my bad habit. Maybe a small change I can make each day is to set my alarm for a few minutes earlier.

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