OLD HABITS DIE HARD
A habit is a repeated action that occurs subconsciously. Formation of habits traces back to the Basal ganglia. It is accountable for memory, development of emotions, and pattern acknowledgment while prefrontal cortex makes decisions. This part of the brain goes to sleep when behavior becomes a routine. Habits are part of everyday life, define personality, and have either positive or negative influence in our lives.
The reward given to a certain behavior is likely of accelerating or discouraging its occurrence. The experience that an individual has had in the past will maintain a particular habit. Positively rewarding old behaviors persist. For example, a driver whose car is fueled freely for careful driving will always uphold such standards and will never relent. Perhaps the most troubling question is why old bad habits persist even when their damaging effects are well-known. These habits may include drug and substance abuse, begging, bad eating habits, bad sleeping habits etc. Most of these habits are easy to start but hard to stop. They damage our reputation and hamper our development.
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Our surrounding has a critical role in our development. If people stay in an area that encourages a certain conduct, it will always persist. Not all people with bad habits are unwilling to quit; their immediate environment is just but a mess. For example, it will be hard for a drug addict to quit if all that surrounds him are only but drugs and other addicts. Any environment that presents triggers that encourage the occurrence of a certain habit has to be avoided if the old has to be buried in the past.
The human emotional need to feel accepted in a particular group, community, culture, class, religion, etc. makes it hard to stop some behaviors. The sense of belonging is a strong inevitable feeling in human nature. Much of what we do is done in the service of belonging. A habit that makes one feel a sense of belonging is hard to quit since that individual wants to be associated with a particular group. For example, the majority of college students will not quit alcohol because of the feeling of loss of identity. Some individuals will not quit the habit of being in a series of debts because they want to maintain their status quo.
Regulations contribute a lot to habit development. Laws limit the way we behave. However, lack of commitment hampers their effective implementation. For instance, drug abuse addiction is on the increase, especially among the youth. Laws have been formulated, but their implementation is a hurdle. People will not quit smoking in public since no one will hold them accountable. Moreover, some habits are mores, hence have no sanctions attached. Yawning, spitting in public, and talking while eating are not outlawed in most countries. People with such behaviors find it difficult to quit since no one will hold them accountable.
Inadequate knowledge about the consequences of certain behaviors perpetuates their persistence. Not all people who exhibit bad habits have proper knowledge about their consequences. For example, access to marginalized areas is a nightmare. Inhabitants in such areas have little knowledge about certain habitual behaviors. Some people don’t see any wrong in their actions. They are much comfortable doing what they think is right for them.
In conclusion, bad habits are altered just as they were learned. Change is a choice that has consequences. Since it is a gradual process, it requires commitment, proper planning, and patience. Creation of awareness on the effects of certain behaviors and provision of knowledge will automatically change a learned bad behavior.