How Being Proud of Bad Habits Works Against Us

Hello there, here I am. Back writing after 4 months. Now you may ask why I was not writing for these last 4 months. Well the answer is I was literally becoming the victim of my own bad habits. Although, I did not stop writing completely. I was writing for myself in a journal to get clarity of thoughts. Something we all should try. Especially when you are overwhelmed with multiple options available in front of you and the decision-making is tough.

Anyway, back to this topic. I read an amazing book called ‘Atomic Habits‘ by James Clear. It is the #1 New York Times bestseller and it clearly deserves that title. The author describes 4 steps of Habit Formation where he breaks down the psychology of behaviors, describing how actions become habits, why some habits stick and some do not, and how to reframe your life to create new habits and maintain them over time. I simply loved the way he explains these topics and it brings out so much clarity about how we develop good or bad habits.

While reading this book, one of the aspects which got me thinking was about ‘celebrating bad habits’. We do this all the time and we do not even realize how it is affecting us adversely.

Many people walk through life in a cognitive slumber, blindly following the norms attached to their identity. “I’m terrible with directions.” “I’m not a morning person.” “I’m bad at remembering people’s names.” “I’m always late.” “I’m not good with technology.” “I’m horrible at math.”

When you have repeated the story in yourself for years, it is easy to slide into these mental grooves and accept them as a fact.

— James Clear, Atomic Habits

We all do this. Moreover, it is very easy to fall in this trap. Imagine how many times we would have described ourselves in this way in the recent past. The more you say these lines about yourself, the more you believe in it. Let us understand some reasons behind this.

1. If you talk about it repeatedly, you are just focusing on the label rather than the actual issue

These statements become an easy way to avoid the situation and immediately exclude you from the other lot. “I am not a morning person” as a statement creates a restrictive shield in front of you to avoid joining the group of people who can confidently say that they are a ‘morning person’.

2. “That is not who I am”

These celebratory statements are clearly resisting your action simply because you have an internal pressure to maintain your self-image. Hence, you badge yourself stating that I don’t belong to that category. To maintain this self-image, you continue to behave in this way for years. You will find whatever you can to avoid contradicting yourself. The more deeply a thought or action is attached to your identity, the more difficult it is to change it.

3. Victim Mentality

Author Jay Shetty writes beautifully about this topic in his book ‘Think Like a Monk‘. Usually, when we narrate a recent story or update about ourselves, we tell that story by making ourselves the biggest victim. That victim character’s traits keeps reinforcing in our minds each time we repeat the story. It just needs a kick start to the conversation. Sometimes it’s you, or sometimes it’s your friend. Try this, next time when you are giving an update to your friend, just observe how you start the conversation.

4. Stop Celebrating, Start Observing

Quick solution to this problem is – stop celebrating your bad habits and being vocal about them. Whenever you talk negative about yourself, or any topic which you are not proud of, just observe and try to correct yourself. You will realize that the moment you start talking positive about yourself, the statements convert into strong behavior establishments in the long run.

“I am always late” should become “I am trying to be on time since last month. This month I just came late twice”.

That’s about it for now. See you next time!

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