Have you ever tried so hard to break a bad habit, but failed miserably? Whether it was the circumstances that stimulated your trigger, peer pressure or demotivation and frustration, you think to yourself, ‘This is impossible!‘.
Today, we would love to share with you a few tips to help you get started. You might not be able to overcome your bad habits overnight- but the consistent effort is always a lot more valuable than drastically throwing the routine out of the window, relapse afterwards, and succumb to your addiction once again, or maybe worse.
1. Identify your weakness
Different people have unique sets of challenges. What is yours? How is it contradicting with your value system per the teachings of Islam? Your bad habit could be smoking, addiction to pornography, video games and more. Discover the triggers that cause you to fall into a constant ongoing cycle, which then leads you into a never-ending loop of bad habits.
Exploring your triggers is essential as it is a cue that triggers the neurons in our brain to react in a certain way. We respond in a conditioned way because of the chemicals, usually dopamine, released into the brain when doing the act, making sure you come back for more. When the chemicals are released, our brains register a pleasurable feeling, so the body will react the same way for the same fix the next time. We must know this to combat our weaknesses, which will allow us to break the cycle.
2. Replacement is key
After you have identified your bad habits and their triggers, the next step is to replace them with something new. Every time we remove a bad habit, we leave a space in the brain, leaving our brains hungry for more dopamine rush we once had before. Remember, the habit served a purpose (dealing with stress, making you feel good, relieving boredom etc.) Removing it creates a void that needs to be filled with something else.
For those who like to play video games to relieve boredom, we can alter this habit by watching interesting documentaries instead. Another example is for those who fall into pornography or alcohol, you could keep your mind and body busy with activities like exercise or creative activities, which can stimulate you mentally, emotionally and physically. Therefore, the goal should be to change the habit instead of erasing the habit. Find something that will help you shift your focus away from the habit itself.
3. Surround yourself with good people
One of the ways to improve your habits is to improve your social circle. If you are the type to hang out with friends and wasting time, backstabbing others and commit other sins together, it is prime time to pull yourself away from that circle.
However, it is crucial to remember that you should be pulling away to improve yourself, but never to discriminate or downgrade your friends and think that you are better than them, for arrogance is much worse and dangerous to the deen.
Pull yourself back to rebuild yourself again with the hopes you could invite your friends on the same journey towards success, Insha’Allah. Never be afraid of rejection or abandonment from your friends, but instead, find new ones who can lead you towards the right path.
4. Make constant du’a to Allah
One of the biggest misunderstandings in the journey of self-improvement is the ‘all in or nothing at all’ mentality. Many people tend to think that breaking a good streak once is the end of the process. You have failed and lost all motivation to push forward. This is wrong!
Allah is All-Forgiving, so you have to forgive yourself when you make a mistake, as we are only humans. So, if you fall off, do not worry. Get back on the horse, shrug off the minor setback, and move forward. If you keep falling into habits that go against Islamic principle, ask Allah for forgiveness and strength to push forward! Always make du’a to Allah to grant you consistency and endurance to overcome the bad habits and guide you on the straight path, Insha’Allah.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: O Allah, You are forgiving and generous. You love to forgive. [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]
Abdullah b. Amr b. al-‘As reported that he heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
Verily, the hearts of all the sons of Adam are between the two fingers out of the fingers of the Compassionate Lord as one heart. He turns that to any (direction) He likes. Then Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: 0 Allah, the Turner of the hearts, turn our hearts to Thine obedience. [Sahih Muslim]
Essentially, we hope that some of these tips can help you form and change habits, but everyone is unique and different methods work for many people. The most important thing is that we take the time to identify our weakness, make constant effa ort to change it and have faith in Allah. Let us all begin our journey with Bismillah.