NATURE of HABITUAL PROCESSES/ADDICTION
Psychologist have exposed that 40% to 95% of our regular activities as humans are done out of a habit or at least influenced by habit. Thoughtlessly opening a bag of popcorn while seeing a movie, eating when you are bored or sad, exercising at the same time every day, reacting a certain way to the occurrence of a particular cue, are some examples of habitual processes. Yet, most of us think of habits as, some very dangerous activities performed by some members of the society to their peril; Such activities as smoking, alcoholism, gambling etc., we often hastily generalize as alone belonging to a class of human behavior called, “habit”. Hence, the importance of this article, which is aimed at giving us an eye-opening tour into the world of habit.
A PEEK INTO THE DEFINITION OF TERMS
We have succeeded in giving a brief of what habit is not; therefore, the question remains what then can we identify as habit and how does it develop?
Habit develops when people repeatedly exercise the performance of an activity in a particular context (an instance of a context is a particular state of mind/mood, time of the day, place, event etc.), thereby, forming a link in memory between what happens when the activity is performed (the product of the activity e.g., stress relief as in alcohol addiction, feeling good as in food addiction) and actually desiring to perform the activity.
According to David et. al. (2011), habits develop when people give a response repeatedly in a particular context and thereby form associations in memory between the response and recurring context cues.
MID TEXT ASSESSMENT
- What is habit?
- What is your view on this: do you think you should perpetuate a habit that has proven unproductive in your life?
Habit can be either beneficial or not beneficial, positive or negative. As a matter of fact, handing most of our necessary activities over to the automatic, unfailing hands of habit will free the higher powers of our mind to focus on their own proper essentials.
The problem now is, what do we do when negative habitual processes threaten to steal our lives? How is habit formed and how can I better position myself to overcome it?
Note that, habit is brewed in the brain, and registered by some very powerful biological processes in the brain, this means that you don’t have to kill yourself over it. Most of the time, people tend to beat themselves up and take a shower of shame at the thought that they cannot just stop it; all you need to realize is that it persists because of a bad brain wiring developed from repeated practice of a not-so beneficial activity.
The problem with habit is that if a person persistently performs it despite having unpleasant outcomes and needing no condition or motivation, once the stimuli is present, it gains a tough skin and becomes resistant and highly difficult to break.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BRAIN WHEN HABIT IS FORMED? IS THE BRAIN TO BE BLAMED OR IS IT MY FAULT?
According to neuroscience, the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, especially the putamen, are the parts of the brain activated during the stimuli response process of habit performance. So it adds up that your habit is fueled by a brain automatic process, not really because you are a fool.
Now there is a science behind it but let’s spare ourselves of all the long details. You simply need to know that your brain creates circuits each time you perform the action you perpetuate. It sees the activity as being beneficial for your existence and survival, hence, it automates it and remove most of the conscious thought from you before the action is performed. Our brain is like our child.
The truth is this, your brain is learning from you and through a process of consistent learning, it becomes an expert of what you are repeatedly practicing. Habits form as people pursue outcomes in daily life. Outcomes like, you want to lose weight so you form a habit of exercise, or you want to relieve stress so you uncover the mystery of alcohol and become an alcoholic etc.
WHAT IS THE WAY TO FREEDOM?
- Psychologists have discovered that with most non-beneficial habits, the problem is about the stimuli associated with prior performance (initial trigger or impulse) that signals the performance of the habit each time, not really that it is motivated by a goal that you have set for yourself.
- Set a goal and focus on the outcome you want to experience. The weight of importance you place on your goal will determine what action you will choose when the onslaught of the brain’s habitual stimuli-response process comes on you.
- Think with the end in view, example, if I break my commitment and indulge in this habit, what happens? What extra do I gain and what value is added to my life? Do I get a chance to move to the next stage of my life or do I get to just shoot all my chances of self-improvement? Use the questions: Is this who I want to become? Do I, at least, have a chance of becoming who I know I deserve to be if I persist? To encourage yourself to resist the initial stimuli.
- Remind yourself that the clock is ticking “tick tock tick” and that you don’t have forever to make the change.
- Pay attention to noticing your triggers, this will help you understand how best to act in the face of the stimuli
- Create alternative responses and plan to do them in place when the habit hits, by that, you can shift your attention intentionally to implementing the beneficial activity.
Changing your behavior and response is not easy because your brain is designed to keep you in your normal. Hence, you must be willing to invest the activation energy required to rewire your brain and create a new path way. So understand that you brain will like to put you in guilt and self-pity in even the slightest effort made towards change. At the end, you have to be the one to make the decision to rewire your brain and nothing should change that and keep you in the cycle of slavery to your brain cells.
Again, when you stop responding to the stimuli with response, the condition becomes less and less automatic progressively.
Emphasis, the only way out is for you to take responsibility of sculpting the kind of brain you want, as blames, procrastination, and imitation will only increase the length of your suffering while giving you a false consolation in the name of the reward (which often times is dangerous to your true self). There is no I want to live my dreams (that’s if you want to live it in person and not in your imagination) that does not involve you taking deliberate efforts to get what you want.
So, the level at which you want to experience life is directly proportional to the rate at which you are willing to maintain conscious awareness, no matter what challenges you face.
State the things that makes habit persist and what you can do to end the reign of bad habit in your life.
- David, T. N, Wendy, W., Mengju, W., & David, K. (2011). The Pull of the Past: When Do Habits Persist Despite Conflict with Motives? Personality and Social Psychology bulletin 37, 37:11, https://doi.org: 10.1177/0146167211419863.
- Jeffrey M. S. Rebecca G. (2012). You are not your brain. The penguin group
- Marieke A. A., Peter M. G., Denise T. D., John B. F., & Floor M. K. (2011). Breaking Habits with Implementation Intentions: A Test of Underlying Processes. Personality and Social Psychology bulletin 37(4) 502 –513. doi:10.1177/0146167211399102
- Verplanken, B., Walker, I., Davis, A., & Jurasek, M. (2008). Context change and travel mode choice: Combining the habit discontinuity and self-activation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28, 121-127. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2007.10.005
- This topic was modified 1 year ago by gcadmin.
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