Few things are more difficult than eliminating bad habits, since they have become part of our daily routines and personality. It takes days of patience and practice to break old habits.
However, the good news is, Ramadan offers a perfect and natural environment for moral training. In addition to the physical discipline during the month of Ramadan, the increased spiritual exercise and connection with Allah, can transform your habits for life.
Acknowledge your bad habits: First step is to admit you need to change. If you are in a state of denial, you won’t recognize that you have a bad habit to change.
Pick a habit for this month: Prioritize your bad habits and focus on one for this month. If you are committed to changing at least one habit, you will see remarkable results.
Realize that it is in us to change: You can break any bad habit if you really want to. No one else can change your habits, if you do not want to.
Intention and plan to change: A healthy process of change in character requires a gradual pace, which entails planning. Develop concrete milestones to measure your progress.
Replace a bad habit with a good one: Completely eliminating a habit is more challenging than replacing it with a more productive habit. Moreover, it is crucial to replace the lost natural needs, such as the need to socialize and to be entertained with something healthy. For instance, it is easier to replace your addiction to TV with a physical workout or reading the Quran.
Change your Environment: Resist the negative peer pressure by finding a better company of friends. Collective action to change is very powerful.
Think of yourself as a new person: This simple psychological shift in your thinking about your own image can do wonders. Tell yourself, “I cannot continue this ill-behavior. I am better than that. I am stronger. I am wiser.”
Reward success: The most fundamental law in all of psychology is the “law of effect.” It simply states that actions followed by rewards are strengthened and likely to recur. Setting up formal or informal rewards for success greatly increases your chances of transforming bad habits into good ones, and is far more effective than punishing yourself for bad habits or setbacks.
Get help: Tell someone about your effort to change if it helps. He or she may keep you on track and may offer some good advice. Read books that will encourage you to do virtues actions.
Resolve to continue on: Giving up bad habits or learning good habits requires regular maintenance and determination. It is a long, ongoing process, and is more difficult than the first few steps of change. So ensure that you follow up.
Develop a relapse strategy: How do you ensure not to return to your bad habit you are trying to change? Some people donate money to a good cause every time they return to sinning or a bad habit. This reminds them of the ‘cost’ of going back to old bad habits. Others try physically demanding acts to deter them from reverting to old ways.