Good Habits, Bad Habits

How Do We Get Them, How Do We Change Them

By Marlene Wagner


Habits! What are they, how do we get them, and how do we change them?

Habits are nothing more than behavior. There are good habits and bad habits.

Most of us operate with numerous habits and, for the most part, never give them a thought until a particular habit or behavior becomes a problem.

On the other hand, the good habits we have may prove to be very beneficial later in many areas of our lives.

Good habits can make us healthier, and happier and add years to our lives.

How do we get a habit? A habit is formed when a particular behavior is repeated over and over until we perform the behavior automatically and unconsciously.

Habits can start for one reason and often continue for another reason.

But let’s get into this and break it all down for a better understanding of habits.

We’ll start by looking at the reasons we create bad habits.

Have you ever found yourself engaging in a bad habit and wondering why you can’t seem to stop?

Unfortunately, it’s common to fall into bad habits – whether procrastination, unhealthy eating, or neglecting self-care.


Common Reasons for Creating Bad Habits 

There are many triggers for creating bad habits. The main reason for developing bad habits is a lack of self-awareness and self-control.

A glass of wine with dinner is a habit enjoyed with eating your meal.  

But if it becomes two or three glasses of wine with dinner every night, it can

become problems and health issues as time passes.

That bowl of ice cream one night a week before bedtime has become a bowl of ice cream every night of the week and is now a habit that can affect your health.

If a person is unaware of a habit, it will become a pattern that can be difficult to break.

People often form bad habits when coping with difficult emotions, stress, or boredom.

Here are some of the most common.

    • Boredom: When bored, turning to unhealthy habits to pass the time or find entertainment is not unusual.

Finding activities that are engaging and meaningful to you is essential to overcome boredom.

It might involve taking up a new hobby, volunteering, or pursuing personal growth opportunities.

Stress is a common trigger for bad habits such as overeating, smoking, or procrastination.

To overcome stress, find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or talking to a therapist.


    • Need for validation: Sometimes, people use bad habits to seek validation or attention from others.

You must focus on your self-worth rather than seeking it from others to overcome this bad habit.

It might involve setting goals that align with your values, practicing self-compassion, or seeking support from friends and family.


    • Learned behaviors: Seeing family members or other role models engaging in bad habits can lead to imitation to fit in or feel accepted

When children see adults or peers engaging in certain behaviors, it makes it much more likely that they will imitate them.


    • Difficulty with self-regulation: People often turn to bad habits to cope with negative emotions or to avoid facing challenges.

Working on self-regulation skills such as managing emotions, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed is essential.


    • Lack of structure: When you don’t have a clear sense of purpose or structure, you might turn to unhealthy habits to fill the void.

To overcome this bad habit, set goals, create a schedule, and find activities that bring meaning and fulfillment.


You Don’t Understand Why You Are Doing It

People engage in bad habits without really understanding why.

It is challenging to address the issue without understanding the root cause of your bad habits so that you can make lasting changes.

Understanding the underlying reasons is the first step toward making positive changes.

Thankfully, it only takes a few steps to learn the cause of a bad habit:

  1. Identify the habit
  2. Track your behavior
  3. Ask yourself hard questions
  4. Taking action

What is driving or causing the bad habit? Whether or not you know it, bad habits often serve a specific purpose or fulfill a need. 

Take the time to observe the bad habit so you can determine what exactly the bad habit is. Take notes when the pattern occurs.

Write down the situation or emotions you experience that trigger the habit.  

Asking yourself these questions helps to identify and understand any underlying causes, especially the payoff you get from performing the bad habit.

  • What need or desire is the bad habit fulfilling?
  • What emotions or feelings do I experience before, during, and after the bad habit?
  • What situations or environments trigger the bad habit?
  • What are the consequences or costs of the bad habit?

Answering these questions offers insight into the cause of your bad habit and helps you identify potential solutions.

Identifying the reasons behind your bad habits, and finding healthy ways to cope, will help you take control of your habits and live a happier, more fulfilling life.  

Bad habits often arise when something in your life is out of balance.

Maybe you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or perhaps you’re not getting enough sleep or exercise.

Whatever the case, when something in your life is off kilter, it can be hard to break a bad habit.


Your Life Is Out of Alignment

It’s important to identify what might be out of alignment and work to fix it.

To determine what is out of alignment in your life, you may need to practice mindfulness by keeping a journal to help you figure out what’s not right for you.

For example, if you have low energy, is it due to your diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, or anxiety, or is your time management needing some work?

It requires brutal honesty about what you may be doing to cause this misalignment.  

Bad habits are a frustrating and persistent part of life.

They can hold you back from reaching your goals and lead to negative consequences in your personal and professional life.

Many people try to replace bad habits with good habits, but does this approach work?

Let’s explore the effectiveness of this question.


Breaking Bad Habits:                   

Breaking bad habits can be a challenging and often frustrating process. Falling off the wagon and reverting to old habits can be easy.

Remember that setbacks are a normal part of the process and can be an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Here are several steps to plan for setbacks and get back on track.


Forgive Yourself

It’s important to be kind to yourself when you experience a setback.

Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the mistake. Instead, recognize it’s a normal part of the process and move on.


Taking a Break

Sometimes a setback happens just because you’re overworking yourself.

You can often put things right by going for a walk, working on something else, and coming back to the issue with a clear mind.

Planning for frequent breaks will also help you stay on track.


Evaluate What Happened

Take some time to reflect on what led to the setback. For example, did you have a particularly stressful day that made it harder to stick to your goal?

Did you get caught up in a social situation that made it difficult to resist temptation?

Understanding the cause and triggers will help you develop strategies to prevent it from happening again.

Setbacks are a normal part of life. It’s vitally important to be flexible and adaptable in the face of them.

If something isn’t working, be willing to adjust your plan and try something new. Clear goals keep you focused and motivated.


Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Stress majorly contributes to setbacks, so finding healthy ways to manage it is imperative.

Choose healthy options proven to work, like exercise, meditation, or talking to a therapist.

Don’t let a setback discourage or derail your progress entirely. Instead, use it as an opportunity to start fresh.

Set a new goal and a plan to achieve it. Don’t worry about how long it will take –focus on taking small steps in the right direction.


Seek Support

Having someone to talk to when trying to break a bad habit is helpful.

A friend or family member who is supportive and understanding can encourage and help you stay motivated.

You can also consider joining a support group or working with a coach or therapist to help you overcome your challenges. 

Alcoholics Anonymous is a very successful support group for recovering addicts.


Staying Positive

Getting discouraged is common, but staying positive and focusing on your progress is essential.

Remember that change takes time, and it’s okay to have setbacks along the way.

Keep moving forward, and you’ll live better through positive habits sooner.

Breaking free from negative patterns and creating lasting change is possible.

Remember to be patient with yourself and take small steps towards change.

With time and effort, you can create healthy habits that bring joy and fulfillment to your life.


I have as-needed coaching available, and if this would be something you’d be interested in, contact me for a free one-hour discovery call.

If you have any challenges, let me know. I’ll include it in my content.

Starting today, make yourself a priority and begin living your best life. 

But before we go, always remember to

Be true to your magnificent self,
Coach Marlene

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