Whether we realise it or not, habits shape our life. In fact, our habits account for 40% of our behaviours rather than conscious choices – playing a significant role in our life.
    Therefore, our success can be determined by our habits. However, sometimes it feels like we have no control over them. The good news is that we can acquire new habits and break bad ones according to the psychology of habit formation.

    How do habits form?

    Habits start with a psychological pattern that is referred to as the three-step ‘habit loop’

    1. Cue – any kind of trigger that instructs your brain which habit to utilise at what time.
    2. Routine – a behaviour, emotion or activity.
    3. Reward – Your brain decides whether a loop is advantageous to you or not based on the reward.

    Here’s an example:

    Cue: You feel bored. Routine: You light a cigarette as is customary. Reward: You experience happiness.

    How to break unhealthy habits

    The cue and the reward have a significant impact on developing habits. It makes you repeat behaviours and can cause cravings. But what would you have to do if you wanted to break that habit?

    If all of your efforts went into changing your pattern, such as stopping smoking, you would probably be left feeling miserable. As a result, your brain will support your nicotine habit by believing that the feedback loop is broken. Our brain yearns for contentment and gratification. You must switch out the routine in the loop with something else that will still reward you in order to break a bad habit.

    So, when you’re bored, consider going for a jog or watching a nice movie rather than reaching for a cigarette. The same benefit—a feeling of relaxation or happiness —will come from these activities. Your mind will assume that this particular loop is functional. It will eventually replace the loop in which you reach for a cigarette whenever you’re bored as you do it more frequently and receive the same reward.

    This three-step cycle demonstrates your ability to break a negative habit that is doing more damage than good.

    Creating positive habits

    Many people want to break certain behaviours, for example smoking – which can be a difficult habit to break. When people attempt to stop, their cravings get the better of them, and they fall off track. They struggle, but often it’s not for lack of trying – it’s a lack of knowledge about how habits develop with the three-step loop. Once a person learns the psychology behind habit formation it often makes it easier for them to begin developing new loops and habits that will encourage positive changes. Whatever behaviour is preventing you from moving forwards, know that you can break it.
    If you would like help to with habit formation, why not reach out to us? We have a team of experienced psychologists who can provide you with the strategies that you need. To book, click here or call our friendly reception team on 1800 327 477 (AU) / 0800 327 477 (NZ)