15 Ways We Defend Our Bad Habits And How To Overcome Them

good habitsYou’ll never break a bad habit if you keep justifying it to yourself. Yet it is a lot easier to defend our bad habits than to admit to them and try to reduce them. But it is not always the best path to take.

Chances are if you have a habit you are trying to break you are probably using one of these faulty concepts to justify it.

1. I Deserve It!

This is something that you often hear people say when they are on a diet in order to justify breaking that diet. The problem with this statement is that it works against you and prevents you from creating a good habit.

By telling ourselves we deserve it we are really just reinforcing the bad habit. We may think we are using positive reinforcement, but our brain hears, “I did good, so now I will reward myself with this slice of cake because that is what I truly want”

Essentially we are telling ourselves that we like eating cake, and by telling ourselves that it becomes harder and harder to break away from that bad habit. A better approach would be finding something that is good for us which we also like and using that as a reward.

Instead of saying, “I’ve been good I deserve some cake”, try saying, “I’ve been good, I deserve some freshly picked strawberries!” It’s better for you and it will boost your brainpower rather than your cholesterol.

2. Just One More Time

We all know that “just one more time” doesn’t really mean “just one more time” although that may be the initial intention. Every time we do something for the last time ever we are giving in to our bad habits and using this one phrase to justify it.

The problem is, the more “last times” you do something the harder it will be to give it up and the more likely you will start believing that you just can’t break the habit. In short it makes this already hard aspect of life even more challenging.

3. It Is Not The Cause Of The Effect

Another easy way we justify our bad habits is by separating the symptoms from the habit. Although we don’t do this intentionally, it is easy to think of cigarettes as good and soothing and lung cancer as a bad disease, it won’t help you break the habit.

Instead look into the future, cigarettes do cause lung cancer along with other diseases. Instead of separating the two things keep them connected in your mind. It’s a lot easier to give up smoking if every time you see a cigarette you think of cancer than it is if you see something that brings you pleasure.

4. Everything Dies Eventually

It’s easy to give up being healthy by telling yourself that everything is going to die. Health nuts make their way to the death bed just like everyone else.

While nobody has found a way to live forever just yet, you do live longer, and you live a healthier life by keeping good habits on average. Once more you feel better and get to enjoy the world around you.

Instead of putting things into your body which makes you feel like you just got hit by a truck and you want to take a nap, why not put things into your body which gives you energy to do the things you love.

5. Everybody Does It

Justifying something because everyone around you does it is like chopping your arm off because your friend got into an accident. Ok, maybe not that bad, but you get my point. There isn’t a reason to think you have to lower yourself to someone else’s level in order to fit in.

Most of the time people are pretty understanding, if you don’t drink, don’t smoke, or don’t spend your money on frivolous things, not very many people will hold it against you.

In fact, in my experience most people will tell you they really respect you for not falling into the same hole they fell into and who knows, you may even inspire someone else to break their habits as well.

6. I Was Raised That Way

It’s easy to say that I do what I do because I was raised that way. That’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. Do some experiments, try something different, find your own path.

You may have had different experiences in the past as someone else, but tomorrow is a new day. You can always make a change to improve your life.

7. I Don’t Want To Be Boring

We seem to have an image in our minds of a person who doesn’t do anything bad to themself. We see them as a nerd, wearing glasses and getting picked on by everyone else. But that isn’t the case at all.

You don’t have to be killing yourself to have a good time and the most interesting thing we remember about people is what ideas they come up with and how much they care about others.

8. It Calms Me Down

Sometimes we do things because they are familiar to us and they calm us down. When stress builds up and change happens it is just easier to go back to the bad habits that you are familiar with in order to feel like things are staying the same and your life is not getting out of control.

Instead of using your bad habits to calm you down in stressful situations

9. Everybody’s Got Something

Another excuse is to say that everybody has something so I shouldn’t be concerned about my bad habits.

Comparing yourself to other people can have its downsides. This is one of them. If you are always weighting yourself against other people’s weaknesses you stop wanting to improve the person you are.

Nobody is perfect, we all have problems, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on fixing them to become a stronger healthier person.

10. My Grandma Did It

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say something along the line of “My grandma drank beer every day of her life and she lived to be 108!” While everybody is different statistics is what matters.

Yes some people may seem to defy health problems that come from eating and drinking junk, but for every one person who defies these health problems 10 others don’t. There are a lot more old healthy people who eat vegetables than who drink beer just like there are more rich people who have worked hard then there are rich people who didn’t.

Don’t worry about what other people managed to do, instead focus on what you want out of life and take the steps to do it.

11. Everything’s Bad For You

This trap is easy to fall into because as they say, everything is bad for you somehow. It’s easy to fall into this trap because there are always new discoveries coming out and there are problems with all foods.

But some stuff is a lot better for you than others and that’s the key. Nobody is going to argue that sitting on the couch and drinking beer all day is better for you than exercising and eating right.

12. I’m Too Old To Change

I’m amazed at how many people refuse to use the computer because they are too old for it. Many of which aren’t even that old. Remember you are never too old to change, if you need some motivation think of Leo Plass who became the oldest person to graduate from college at age 99.

13. I Have Too Many Negative Influences

Another excuse we tell ourselves to stop ourselves from changing a bad habit into a good one is to say that we have too many negative influences in our lives. We might not be able to stop gambling because everyone we know is a gambler and will pressure us into gambling or we may not be able to stop eating junk food because junk food is everywhere.

You can counteract this by focusing on things you want rather than things you don’t. Surround yourself with people who are making a positive change in their lives. Only buy healthy foods for the house. Don’t surround yourself with negatively influence you and make it harder to break the addiction.

14. It’s Not Hurting Anyone

Another reason we might refuse to break our bad habits is because we think it isn’t hurting anyone but maybe ourselves. That’s not true, it only takes a short conversation with the family of an alcoholic to find out that their addiction affects more than just themself.

Realize that people care about you. They don’t want to see you destroying your life because of some bad addiction. Why put them through that pain when you can take a step towards improving your life today. Take a minute to create your life plan and really put in the effort to align yourself with the person you want to be.

15. I’ve tried to Quit And Failed

Have you ever said you just can’t quit something? Maybe you’ve tried it before and failed and as a result you don’t think it is possible to turn things around? In any case you can quit! You can change for the better.

Just because you failed in the past doesn’t mean you will fail again in the future. We all have the power to break bad habits, it may be tough, but we are all capable of doing it.

Like this post? If you like this post please bookmark or tweet it! Also here are some other pages you might be interested in.

How To Love Yourself Unconditionally


Why Focusing On The Bad Thing Is The Wrong Thing To Do


The War of Art

13 thoughts on “15 Ways We Defend Our Bad Habits And How To Overcome Them

  1. Jon Jefferson

    I have found that removing the triggers for bad habits can be helpful in breaking them. When I quit smoking I avoided gas stations for a month or had someone else pay. It can be easy to automatically buy a pack when you get your gas.

  2. rynessa.cutting@balanceddaily.com

    The one that gets me is the exaggerated attempt at an excuse. I know someone who always goes the extra mile to try to show why what they do isn’t THAT bad. They always try likening their situation to something which has absolutely no reference and is probably highly unlikely, then they say “exactly!” It drives me up a wall.

  3. Kelly Wade

    It takes about 3 weeks to make something into a habit, and the picture at the top is true- good habits once established are just as hard to break as bad habits. If people were more inclined to pay attention to their health, exercising and eating healthy would become one of the most beneficial habits to allow us to live longer for ourselves and loved ones.

  4. Valerie Remy-Milora

    haha, what a wonderful post. So right on with many of these. I hear “but my friends do it” all the time with my daughters. It’s hard sometimes to be different especially when that means doing something healthier than most. Or watching television that teaches unhealthy values and attitudes, because other parents think it’s OK Bad habits are all too often hard to break even when we know without the shadow of a doubt that they are hurting us, because they are habits! Habit=comfort… it’s what we know! Change is the unknown… we may think we’ll feel better but what if we’re wrong? Awareness that we make excuses is the first step in the right direction. Thanks for the little push 😉

  5. fredena moore

    I love this, especially #11. I have used the excuse to reward myself with “dessert” for staying on course. From now on I will reward myself with something better other than food, thanks!

  6. Jeri

    I commit everyone of these all the time :( My transition from teaching to freelancing has made such thoughts surface so often, but gradually, I’m starting to get a handle on my tendency to defend my bad habits.

  7. Susan Cooper

    I had to laugh, I find I do these things more often then I would hope or like. The challenge is finding ways that work for me to overcome my tendency to fall pray to these. I am still working on it… LOL. I will probably work on it for the rest of my life… BIGGER LOL.

  8. Don @ Breath of Optimism

    I’ve committed many of these excuses myself! I recently read a book about habits and the author claims that even after you break a habit, that conditioning you went through that would trigger the habit is something that never goes away. It may lessen over time, but it will always be with you.

  9. Diana

    These are all soooo true!!! Very neat list. ‘One more time’ and ‘one last time’ is the hardest one to deal with, at least for me. But i think i cracked it wide open – see how… Whenever i say to myself ‘ok, this is the last time and i will never ever do this again’ – it automatically makes me want to do more of the same, and all the time. So, i have learnt to handle it one step at a time, consistently. I will tell myself it’s ok to do something rather than forbid myself and tell myself ‘this is the last time’ – and i found out that while i do bad things sometimes (smoke, eat unhealthy food, whatever the bad habit), it is way more rarely than if i lie to myself it is ‘the last time’. When the guilt is gone – everything is easier and stick, right? Have a great day, everyone! :-)

  10. Harleena Singh

    A great post about habits, Shaun! Seems so personal as I’m sure everybody has experienced all that you mention. :)

    It’s so right when it is said that we’re creatures of habit. It is naturally comforting to us to make patterns and travel on previously known paths. We never want to move out of this comfort zone and activity, besides we get addicted to them.

    And, then we do everything it takes to not change by making innovative excuses! You’ve listed almost all such justifications we give to retain and defend our bad habits, and I agree with them all.

    I think #5 Everybody does it, is most common excuse people make. I like the alternatives you’ve suggested to get rid of the habits. Thanks.

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