The Dark Side of Habits

Delighted to introduce Alicia Lawrence who is here to share about the slippery slope of our habits!


full habit
“Original Portrait of a friend and his habits” by James Reedy


Think about the things you love to do and maybe even take part in on a semi-regular basis: shopping, texting, working, eating or even drinking. They may be an established part of your life. You think about them often but they don’t overtake your thoughts or change your priorities. You enjoy them alone and with your social circle and they bring satisfaction, enjoyment and a little fun to your everyday life. Maybe they’re just recreational activities, perhaps they’ve become habits…but what happens if they become more than that?

In many situations, habits are positive. Books have been written about it: “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” and more. Habits can drive us, they can motivate us to finish projects, to get a good night’s rest or even to stay focused. Habits can lead to big things, but that’s not always the case.

It’s a slippery slope, but, sometimes it’s not so hard for the lines to blur and for fun, recreational habits to become all out, life-altering addictions. Think about it, some habits that we previously discussed and some addictions are the same: shopping, eating, working and so on. Because of the similarities, habits can easily go to the dark side. While the video below illustrates this point, it’s important to think about the process to prevent it from happening in your life.

Video by 12 Palms Rehab

To understand why it’s so easy for habits to become addictions, it’s important to understand the cycle that takes one to another.

1- Recreation.

Recreational activities are exactly what they sound like. They’re fun, they bring enjoyment to life. The person taking part in a recreational activity understands any risks that may be involved and partakes in a balanced manner. It’s also done on the side of normal life activities…it’s in no way, shape or form a priority.

2- Moderation.

Recreational activities can easily become moderate activities. These are slightly more than recreational. They are done on a regular basis and the individual that does them thinks about them during their daily routine.

3- Habitual Behaviors.

Sometimes activities become habits. Habits are accompanied by a subconscious focus. The behavior is expected and regretted if missed. On average, it takes about 66 days to form a habit (some activities take longer, some less time). Habits can be positive, but there has to be a line.

4- Compulsory Behaviors.

When the line is crossed, habits can become compulsory behaviors. In this situation, an individual loses the sense of choice and rationalizes that this behavior is something that’s beyond their control. They have to shop online and spend money that they don’t have because they just can’t control it. They have to have one more drink because they won’t be able to relax without it and it’s not something they can control. The examples are endless.

5- Addictions.

Perhaps the easiest line to cross is that between a compulsion and an addiction. By the compulsory state, the individual has begun to lose control and they’ve accepted that idea as fact. By the time the behavior becomes an addiction the individual loses all sense of choice and totally accepts the behavior as part of their makeup. They give up trying to fight and have officially lost control. At this point, without a serious intervention and behavioral therapy, the chances of an easy recovery are slim.

Think about your habits. Think about the things in life that drive you and push you forward. Think about your priorities. Where do they fall on this continuum? Are your habits done just for fun, without a second thought throughout the day or are they more? Do you find yourself dwelling on them even when you’re not trying to? If you find yourself in a serious addiction, get help as soon as possible because the longer you are in an addiction the harder it is to break.

By tracking your habits and understanding where you’re at and by taking control, you can stop a behavior from going too far…from going to the dark side. Honest self-evaluation is critical when it comes to ensuring a habit stays a habit.

AIbEiAIAAABDCM70_4DWy9D0HSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKDY0MDdkNWM5NjdjZTQyNDdmMWQwY2M0Y2VhNjE0MDJhY2YwNjNhNjgwAbPwzkVdmygdOyszPqPrq9rnx60tAlicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for a tech company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her articles have been published by Her Fitness Hut,, and Ask Miss A.

8 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Habits

  1. Hi Alicia. Thanks for sharing that video – it was fun to watch, as well as informative. You also did a great job of summing up the slippery slope to addiction. My husband and I both have the genes of addiction. Just glad our involvement in our church has kept us on the straight and narrow 🙂

    All the best,

  2. Alicia,

    I like the way you have broken the process down into smaller, understandable progressive steps. Nobody starts out with an addiction – it builds. The first cigarette or alcoholic beverage is not often met with delight. The first sexual encounter is often fraught with anxiety and insecurity. But as we practice our habits and they become regular occurrences, our cerebral cortex – the thinking part of the brain – takes a back seat to the emotional urgency. It is so much easier to curtail a habit before it becomes imprinted in our thinking process.


    Dr. Erica

  3. Hi Alicia,

    Your article reminds me of the Slight Edge concept. What we do every day, or on a regular basis, will affect us with a mushrooming effect after a while… for either good or bad, depending on what we’ve been doing. I like your treatment of the subject, showing how this happens.

    Willena Flewelling

  4. We tend to talk about addictions to the things we can see (coffee, sugar, alcohol) and label them “good” or “bad” but so much of our lives are made up of habitual behaviors – some not so obvious – and when they turn into addictions they can have far reaching impacts on your life and the lives of those you love. Great article and video – Thanks Alicia

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