Why it's easy to fall back into bad habits and how to avoid it
Hi there, it’s me…yeah, remember me? Natasha? I used to send a weekly newsletter out and write regular blogs on my website. The problem is I let it slip for one week, then another, then another and before I knew it I hadn’t sent one out in months. I’d let my good habits slip and fallen into a bad habit. Can you believe it? A life coach with bad habits. The truth is any one of us can slip back into bad habits, even if we’ve worked really hard to develop positive ones. Whether it’s stopping regular exercise, eating way too much junk food, not speaking nicely to our partner or cutting corners in our job. And it won’t have happened over night. It’ll have been a gradual process, just like it was a gradual process to build them into your life.
Let’s take eating too much junk food as an example. You’ll have started out having one treat meal, maybe even a few drinks too. Indulging in it didn’t have an immediate negative impact on your health or weight, so maybe a few days later, you think, ‘”what harm can another treat meal do?”, then it’s another and then another and before you know it, you’re fully off the healthy eating wagon, and back to square one.
Things we’ll have told ourselves could be, “I’ve come too far, there’s no way I’ll go back to my old ways”, or “I’m a different person than I was back then, I’m immune to my past problems”, or even “it’s ok to dabble and bend the rules a bit as there’s so much distance now between the old and new me.” Yes, it’s so important to have balance and indulge now and again, and when we’ve created new positive habits, we’re less likely to fall back into the old ways as we can see all the benefits of the new you, but reverting back to the old ways, as they’re habits your body and brain have been used to, is much easier than you’d think.
Ways to ensure you don’t fall into your bad habits again include:
Be mindful- Be present in the moment and notice what you’re doing. It gives you that space and time to make a better choice rather than reverting back to your old autopilot way of operating. Also be mindful of the little subtle behaviours and thoughts you’re having that could be a warning you’re heading down the wrong path.
Notice any ‘permission giving’ thoughts – keeping with the junk food example, these thoughts could be, “it’s ok, I can buy the whole packet of biscuits but I know I won’t eat them all”, when you unconsciously know you’re likely to, and end up doing just that.
Beware aware of people around you who could make you fall back into bad habits – this could be friends, a partner, work colleagues – the enablers, who tempt you to fall off the good habit wagon. Peer pressure and doing something to fit in can easily sway you into going back down that bad habit route.
The self-sabotage thoughts – Does this sound like you? “I’ve fallen off the wagon a little, so I’ve ruined it now, I might as fall off the wagon a lot.” Just because you’ve taken one step backward, doesn’t mean you have to take 10 more steps that direction too.
Do a regular check in with yourself - whether it's every day, every week, once month - whatever works best for you, set yourself a reminder on your phone to check in with yourself and reflect on how you've been doing with your good habits. If they haven't been going so well, a regular check in will allow you to do something about it, rather than leave things to get to a point where they're much worse.
The good news is that good habits can easily be picked up again. You did it once, you can do it again. All it takes is for you to make that choice. And as of today, I'm choosing to return to my good habit of sending out my weekly newsletter and writing regular blogs!