Many people find it incredibly testing when it comes to changing bad habits. We know some things we do from time to time are wrong, but we just cannot seem to stop. Gaining motivation and strength to fight undesired habits is not easy. What we repeatedly do in our daily life routine is known as habits. Our daily lives are usually a set of habits that we do throughout the day. Everyone wants to be a better version of themselves every other day. Allah says:
وَإِذَا جَاءَكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ أَنَّهُ مَنْ عَمِلَ مِنكُمْ سُوءًا بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَنَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“And when those come to you who believe in Our verses, say, “Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does wrong out of ignorance and then repents after that and corrects himself – indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah Al-An’am, 6: 54)
We have all kinds of habits some are good and some are bad. We don’t realize earlier about bad habits when we realized about them it’s been too late to leave them. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) warned us against bad habits and asked us to do good deeds if we want to get rid of bad habits. One of the most effective ways to do so is by changing many undesired habits to good ones. Speaking of which, it’s very difficult to be done. Changing habits can be challenging so that everyone who makes it would truly be better. Allah says:
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
“And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind has not been given of knowledge except a little.” (Surah Al-Isra` 17:85)
The relief from bad habits is to gain religious knowledge and to practice Islam. So, if we spend our days serving our religion, gain knowledge about it and try to inform others about the beauty of our religion, we will not have time for bad habits. Few things are more difficult than getting rid of bad habits since they are part of our daily routine and personality. It takes days of patience and practice to break old habits because it’s not going to end quickly.
Here is some effective framework to help us change negative habits into good ones:
- ‘Change’ does not erase the habit
- Identify and cut out triggers
- Have a planned substitute
- Don’t panic if you slip up
- Remove all the triggers
- Create achievable goals
- Create a Substitution
- Change slowly
- Set the goals
- Remember the death
- Make Dua to Allah SWT
- Be prepared to struggle
- Think differently of yourself
- Make friends with good people
- Identify the cause of bad habits
- Understanding the nature of change
- Having the right intentions for change
- Start with the smallest behaviour (routine)
- Strengthen the relationship with Allah SWT
If you want the change to last long, you have to do it slowly. Changing the way you do things requires time, effort and a lot of willpower, so it’s wise to make the change slowly rather than in one go. The faster the change happens, the faster it also disappears. Don’t be focused on changing your habits, focus on changing your mindset instead. Don’t be rushing in changing all of your habits, break it down to a series of new habits instead.
Don’t be overwhelmed be patient and remember some simple steps mentioned below which will help you to change the bad habits successfully.
- First of all, identify your bad habits. Two steps are required to identify bad habits. The first one is to compare your life with our value system that is whether you are living your life according to the teachings of Islam that is according to the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The second one is to compare your life with the role model.
- Remember Allah Almighty loves those who commit mistakes and repent. Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.” (Muslim)
- Plan to change your bad habits. It should include your reasons for changing; obstacles you will face and also support which will help to achieve your planning to get rid of bad habits.
- Replace a bad habit with the good one. It’s essential to replace the lost natural needs, such as the need to socialize and to be entertained with something healthy. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) described in these words: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follows up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people.” (Tirmidhi)
- Think of yourself as a different person. Tell yourself that you can do better simply motivate yourself which will be going to help you in this manner.
- Change the habits in a way the other things requires time, effort and a lot of willpower, so it’s wise to make the change slowly rather than in one go.
- Do Dua at the beginning, all along and till the end – asking Allah Almighty for help and courage to quit all the bad habits and for constancy to prevent a setback.
- Worship is the most important factor that always strengthens an individual to resist his soul and power that weakens the soul.
- Remind yourself of the death and hereafter which will surely be going to help you to get rid of bad habits. Holy Prophet (PBUH) said in one of his hadith in these words: “Remember often the terminator (or destroyer) of all the pleasures [i.e. death],” the Prophet once stated. (Tirmidhi)
Changing your mindset is more than anything before changing your habits. Be sure of yourself that you can be better and you’re someone different from other people’s thoughts. In case you negatively think of yourself, change it before you change yourself. Allah says:
أَوْ كَصَيِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ فِيهِ ظُلُمَاتٌ وَرَعْدٌ وَبَرْقٌ يَجْعَلُونَ أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِم مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ وَاللَّهُ مُحِيطٌ بِالْكَافِرِينَ
“Or like a rainstorm from the sky in it (are) darkness[es], and thunder, and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears from the thunderclaps (in) fear (of) [the] death. And Allah (is) [the One Who] encompasses the disbelievers.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:19)
Nothing good comes easy. If you want to change all of your undesired habits, be prepared for a rough journey ahead. When you are trying to be someone better, Allah SWT will test you to measure your intention and sincerity. Overcome all the bad habits once and for good.