How to break a bad habit

Everyone has habits, some good, some bad.

In the video below, I talk about how habits form, and how to change them, as well as offering a tap-along section from minute 9 to help you in this process:

What defines a bad habit is simply that it is a routine or behaviour pattern that doesn't serve you.

Creating Habits

Habits develop as a way to make your life easier. For example, you don't normally think about how you brush your teeth. It's a habit, and you probably do it the same way each time, without even thinking about it. And that's exactly why you have habits: so you don't need to relearn things every single time you do them.

You have a habitual way that you walk, and talk, and get dressed, and drive, and so on.

The problem comes when you develop a habit which then stops serving you.

Bad Habits

For instance, smoking is often seen as something that relaxes you, that gives you a treat of some kind, some time for yourself. It can be a very social habit, if you are around other smokers. Yet, smoking is bad for your health and your appearance, as well as being anti-social around children or non-smokers.

Many smokers therefore decide they want to break the habit of smoking. And there are a lot of products and services to help these days. Hypnotherapy, for instance, has a very good track record helping to become a non-smoker.

In the same way, you might have the habit of biting your nails, or comfort eating.

Behaviour patterns

There are other habits which are less recognised as being behaviour patterns which can be changed just like stopping smoking. For example, if you suffer from anxiety, this is a pattern of responding to stressors in your life. Everyone will 'do' anxiety in their own, habitual way. You might get sweaty palms, and try to avoid the situation that causes you anxiety. Or you might get butterflies in your stomach, and get into arguments with people.

Whether you have a more traditional 'bad habit', or something you may not even consider a habit but which is a behaviour pattern you always 'do', you can learn to respond in a different way.


Making a change

If you want to break a bad habit of whatever kind, the first thing to understand is that you cannot just remove a habit. You need to replace it with something else.

The first thing, therefore, is to figure out when you 'do' your habit, and what you would rather do. Often, people just think in terms of what they don't want, but it's important to get clear on what you actually want.

Try to make the replacement as enjoyable and dynamic as possible!

For instance, to replace smoking you could start doing some breathing practices to bring you calm. Experiment with which one/s you enjoy most. And create a plan for yourself: I notice I'm stressed, I take some time to breathe (does that involve going somewhere in particular? Will you close your eyes or keep them open?).

If you can imagine where you would be, you can make the visualisation more 'real', adding in details of sights and sounds and smells. Also, focus on the sensations you will have, of calm, of being able to breathe deeply, of feeling good for taking care of yourself. The more vibrant your imagined scenario, the easier it is to build your motivation to do it.


As mentioned, hypnotherapy has a very good track record for changing habits. It can be used both to reinforce motivation to change and to build your ability to stick to a new pattern by helping you to 'have already done it' in your mind. As many people say, it takes time to build a new habit, and doing this in your imagination can reduce the 'real time'.

Hypnotherapy can also be used to stop self-sabotaging behaviours, and strengthen your resolve by highlighting the negatives of a habit.


Tapping is also a great tool to use when creating change. It can help release the emotions around a bad habit. For example, it is good at releasing cravings and uncovering the reasons why you might want to keep a habit, even though you know it isn't good for you. Then, you can release those motivations and install new ones.

It is also good for 'rehearsing' a new habit, installing it in your subconscious so it becomes easier to actually follow through on.


To create sustainable change, it is vital to get clear on what you want to achieve, and to put in place a realistic and practical plan. Coaching is great in this regard, helping you to define what you want and what you don't want, and to clarify what the future should look like.

If you'd like some help in getting rid of an unwanted habit, why not get in touch: or call me on 07561 231 281.

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