You can change a habit once you notice its trigger.
Being aware of what triggers you can be very helpful. The word "trigger" is not used here as something that makes you upset but merely evokes a specific desire or action.
Once you become aware of the trigger, you can start choosing the action that follows it. If you do this enough times, the new action will become automatic. You may not be able to stop a habit, but you can replace it with a better one.
To become more aware of the triggers in your life, look for these patterns:
- Emotions such as sadness, anxiety, or anger. Do you tend to have a predictable behavior pattern every time you feel this way?
- Places. Is there a habit you fall into every time you are in this location?
- Specific people. Is there something you do consistently when you meet a certain person?
- Interruptions. For example, do you react predictably when your phone buzzes?
- Action sequences. Do you always do the same thing after you brush your teeth?
- Time. Is your reaction different in the morning than at night? How does time influence your behavior?
When you replace the action that follows a trigger, make sure you're still getting some kind of reward for your behavior. That will reduce your mind's resistance to changing the habit.