How To Break Bad Habits When You Don't Have Willpower

Ev Chapman
May 8, 2021

I don't break bad habits. I focus on building good habits.

If you do a search on Quora for habits, you'll come across many questions about how to break bad habits. It seems that we're more obsessed with breaking bad habits than we are about building good ones.

But I've never intentionally worked to break a bad habit.

Trying to break a habit is hard. It leaves a void that we become desperate to fill. It takes tremendous willpower to break a bad habit and most of us just don't have that kind of willpower.

Try crowding out bad habits with good ones.

Last year I did a nutrition course with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. One of the key concepts in the course is around 'crowding out.' Rather than cutting out unhealthy food and depriving yourself, you crowd out the unhealthy foods with healthy ones.

Depriving ourselves leaves us hungry and what do we do when we're hungry? We eat. Which becomes a vicious dieting cycle. So instead we teach people to add food into their diet - healthy foods. Eventually what happens is that the healthy foods crowd out unhealthy ones.

Eventually, there's a tipping point when people are choosing healthy food over unhealthy food. It can be a longer process but it's much more successful than relying on willpower alone

Next time you think you need to break a bad habit, try crowding it out instead of depriving yourself. You might just find you need less willpower than you think.

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