In therapy, I learned about a concept called “negative sobriety.” It’s when you remove the old habits, but don’t replace them with new ones. This creates a vacuum that, unless filled, always brings you back to your old habits.
You have effectively derailed one of the most common misconceptions about habit-building, in this statement. So many people focused on self-improvement put their attention in the wrong place — quitting old habits — when in reality their focus should be on building new habits.
Habits are like a drug addiction for your brain — remove the bad ones and you’ll have instant withdrawal. It will be a painful, debilitating process that inevitably fails. Introduce new habits simultaneously, however, and you’re on an entirely different playing field.
The neural circuitry in your brain thrives on habits and routines. So basically, we need habits. Good or bad, our brain must have them. It’s not simply abandoning habits, it’s building new ones. The new habits are a pivotal factor in the whole process.
Well said! Thanks for writing this. You hit the nail on the head.