You may have heard that one way to quit smoking and kick the habit for good is to identify as a non-smoker. Replacing the phrase, “I’m trying to quit,” with “I am a non-smoker,” is believed to help former smokers become just that.
This phenomenon has been studied in smokers, but it can be applied to other habits as well. If you’re working on a habit to change your brain for the better, think about how the habit will impact your identity.
Are you working on exercising 30 minutes a day? Then, you don’t just want to exercise, you want to become a person who’s into fitness.
If you’re working on eating out less, you’re not just working on changing your diet. You want to be a person who loves to cook healthy meals.
You’re not just a person who checked out a book at the library. You are a person who loves to read.
Every time you make a choice that reflects the type of person you want to be, remind yourself. “Hey, I made plans with friends on Saturday. I’m a really social person!”
Tombor, I., Shahab, L., Brown, J., Notley, C., & West, R. (2015). Does non-smoker identity following quitting predict long-term abstinence? Evidence from a population survey in England. Addictive Behaviors, 45, 99–103. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.01.026