Have you ever questioned if your habits are positively serving you?

As the old saying goes, old habits die hard. Whether it’s something new you picked up or a habit you’ve had for years, if your habits aren't serving you well, it is never too late to get rid of them. In this article, Jay Shetty shares seven tips on letting go of the habits that no longer serve you. These tips will help you discover the habits you need to change and teach you how to break them down and fix them.

Let Go of Bad Habits

All your habits have served you at some point on your journey. Accepting you needed them to fill a specific mindset is the first step to letting go of the habits that no longer serve you. “We don't know how to open up and let go,” Jay Shetty shares. “You accept that the habit served you at one point in time but no longer does. It's not useless or something you hate or dislike.”

Jay Shetty explains how when it comes to habits, attachment and aversion are two sides of the same coin. If you are attached to something and want to change it, you create adversity toward it. But just because you want to break away from it, doesn’t mean there isn’t still an attachment. This attachment keeps you connected to the habit. You create the desire to get rid of it, but attachment keeps you from letting it go completely. “The reason our pendulum swings between attachment and aversion is because we never truly let go and disconnect,” Shetty explains. “We go from being attached to something to being averse to it and hating it. Then we pendulum back to loving it. We just need to open our hands and let it go.”

Letting it go and accepting the habit once served its purpose helps create a healthier relationship with the habit.

According to Jay Shetty, you don't have to break a habit. Just let it go. Let it naturally dissolve from your life.

Find Your Motivation

What motivates you to get rid of a habit that’s not serving you? When we think about leaving behind a habit, we tend to be motivated by one of four main things:

  • Fear. What will others think? How will this affect my career or my family?
  • Results. How can I get the outcome I want? How can I prove myself?
  • Duty. How could I let someone down? I can’t skip out on my responsibilities.
  • Love and Purpose. How can I better serve the people I love? How can I live true to my purpose?

If you’re struggling with a habit you’ve been unable to let go of, chances are you haven’t climbed the motivator ladder of fear, results, duty, love and purpose. First, fear will motivate you to set a goal in order to achieve a result. Then, the drive to reach that result becomes your duty to reach the goal. Finally, love and purpose will motivate you to reach the goal. “So often, we stay in fear, or we try to do it out of love and we fail,” Jay Shetty explains. “If you stay in fear, it's not sustainable, and if you try to jump to love, it's not sustainable. Use fear as the first intention, but then rise to the intention of the result. Then move on to the intention of responsibility and finally rise to the intention of love.”

Identify Your Triggers

Are you aware of your triggers—the things that make you want to return to an old habit? If not, someone else likely is. Knowing your weaknesses does not make you weak. It makes you stronger. “Awareness of your weaknesses can be your greatest strength,” Jay Shetty explains. “When you're aware of all your triggers, you are more prepared.”

If you can identify what your triggers are, you can arm yourself to avoid them. Shetty suggests writing down every trigger you can think of, even if it’s not easy to admit. This activity will give you the edge in planning how you can avoid caving when you face your triggers.

Remove the Triggers From Your Close Proximity

Once you’ve identified what your triggers are, you can take action to remove them from your space. Jay Shetty admits that hunger is a trigger for him. If he’s not prepared, he will reach for the carb and sugar-laden snacks that are convenient. To prevent himself from ruining his healthy eating, he packs a healthy snack or visits what he refers to as the world's worst snack drawer. “Radhi has removed all unhealthy items from the snack drawer at our house,” shares Jay Shetty. “It's only full of healthy items which I actually enjoy now. It's taken me a while, but the removal of those triggers from my space has forced me into healthier habits. I'll pick fruit instead of a bad snack.”

By removing the triggers, you give yourself a chance to let go of the habit. When the trigger is still present, you have to rely on willpower to help you detach from the situation. You set yourself up for failure.“You're relying so much on willpower when you've been attracted, addicted or attached to that thing for so long,” explains Jay Shetty. “You're actually stressing yourself out, and creating more fatigue in your mind and body by trying to resist something that is so easily accessible.”Stop leaving yourself open to that vulnerability.

Create a System

If there are triggers you cannot remove, you need to create a system to deal with them. Jay Shetty suggests using an If/Then System. The If/Then System means you have a plan for what to do if x happens. This method can apply to all the triggers that you cannot remove.

Make a list of your triggers and how you plan to deal with them as they arise. Use the If/Then System when you make your list.

If you don't have a method of dealing with triggers, you are forcing yourself to deal with things in the moment. “While in the moment, it's challenging to shrug off and shake off your conditioning,” Jay Shetty explains. “It's complicated, and you're creating more stress, pressure and tension for your mind and body to go through.”

Create a system that sets you up for success. Curate your success by knowing how you will respond to things before a response is needed. Don't wait to make decisions in the moment.

Have a Support Person

We all feel pressure and make mistakes, but having someone you can rely on when faced with these things is a key to your success. Find someone you can trust whom you can call when you need reassurance or support. It doesn't have to be someone who has gone through the same thing, although it can be helpful if they have. It just needs to be someone who doesn't mind a call from you when you need to talk things through. “That kind of person is so helpful because what you need is pattern interruption,” explains Jay Shetty. “If you have someone to call, it disrupts the pattern, or your need to do that thing in your life at that moment. You get to talk through it. It gives you that space. Having someone to call in those emergency, urgent moments can be truly powerful.”

Find Replacements

One of the biggest mistakes people make when letting go of a habit is not replacing it with something better. They don't have a higher taste. “You only let go of a lower taste when you have a higher taste,” explains Jay Shetty, who says higher taste is a Vedic perspective. According to a study on Healthline, it takes an average of two and a half months to break a habit and replace it with a new one.1

Nothing is fast or easy when it comes to breaking old or forming new habits. Baby steps will take you where you need to go. You can’t go from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye. Understanding what motivates you and recognizing your triggers are the first steps in the process of letting go of the habits that aren't serving you. Only then can you create a system that allows you to successfully navigate any triggers you can’t remove and find replacements for the habits you let go of.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “7 Ways to Let Go of Bad Habits and the Things that No Longer Serve You” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.

1 Raypole, Crystal. “Here's Why You Can't Break That Bad Habit.” Healthline. Healthline Media, March 30, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-a-habit.

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