Bad Habits: Developing & Breaking

Nearly 70% of smokers admit they want to quit. That’s just one bad habit adults develop and can’t kick. Cigarette smoking is difficult to discontinue because of more than the addictive properties of the nicotine; habits form because of repetition – so some of the difficulty adults face in attempting to change habits is due to a pattern we’ve formed in our brain.

Dr.  Russell Poldrack is a Neurobologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He says whether we have a habit of overeating or just driving the same route to work, once our brain understands the mechanics of performing the task, we do it without engaging true brain power. He says there’s one more element to this, and that’s dopamine… the “feel good” hormone. “If you do something over and over, and dopamine is there when you’re doing it, that strengthens the habit,” says Poldrack. That makes a lot of sense. Even when an activity no longer results in a dopamine release, the person’s brain connects the activity to feeling good, so it does the activity without truly thinking.

Willpower can make a difference when it comes to resisting temptation to give in to habits, but it’s like a muscle – willpower gets tired and needs a rest.

Breaking habits can be done, but there’s no one-size-fits all cure. Everyone is different. This is where a coach can help. If you have a habit you’d like to break but have not been able to do so on your own, let’s talk. Schedule a free strategy session with me – no strings attached – and let’s see what we can accomplish together.

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