The Art of Replacing Bad Habits

It is difficult to quit a bad habit like smoking, overeating, or biting your nails. One of the things that makes it tough is that quitting a bad habit leaves behind empty space that isn’t easily filled. Sometimes the empty space feels more uncomfortable than the bad habit itself.

I remember talking with a friend who was struggling with ending a romantic relationship that he knew wasn’t good for him. When they would break up, there would be an empty space that felt really lonely. He knew the relationship wasn’t good for him, but the lonely place felt even worse.

When you are trying to stop or remove something from your life, it’s important to not only stop the bad habit, but to replace the bad habit with something good. It’s not enough just to stop the thing that is bad for you, you need to figure out what you will do with the empty space that is left behind.

There are a lot of options for filling the empty space. In the case of my friend, we talked about things like connecting more with other friends, focusing on his schoolwork, and beginning an exercise routine. Maybe there’s a new hobby you would like to pick up, or a class you want to take.

It takes a lot of effort and discipline to stop a bad habit. But if you don’t replace your bad habit with something good, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Discussion: When you try to quit a bad habit, what do you do with the empty space that is left behind? Think about something you are trying to stop in your life. What good thing could you replace the bad habit with?

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