Satisfaction of a habit
Besides, knowing how a habit came to its existence, we want to understand how the outcomes relate to the emergence of a habit. Therefore, we have to understand how basic human needs are being satisfied. Habits namely give outcomes that relate to a certain need, which gives satisfaction when performing the habit. According to the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg and Mandred Max-Neef, nine needs are developed those are; autonomy, meaning, substance, protection, rest, understanding, interdependence, compassion, and play (Wiens, 2010). So, looking at the example of the man with obesity, the bad habit is emotional eating. This satisfies the short term need of sustenance but will lack, for example, in the long term need for rest, because the negative emotion is not solved, but postponed. Or the need for autonomy, the feeling of not having control of your choices, because the solid patterns win from the will to change them.
Now we know, that if we are stuck in a vicious cycle, it is difficult to get out due to the bad habits which are part of the cause of being in the cycle. So, is the habit strongly interlinked to a situation? That satisfaction wins over the known that it is not good for the long term? I think it is, but that it depends on the level of the need which overrules. So yes, external triggers encourage bad habits, but that is to satisfy a certain need.
That makes me wonder if the link with a certain situation is so strong, that the satisfaction of the performance of the habit wins over the knowledge that it is not good for the long term.
Change of a habit
How is it possible to break such a habit/cycle then? Well, the easiest way is to just not allow people to act out the bad habit, for example eliminating all the unhealthy food in supermarkets. However, as you could understand that would be an unrealistic and really expensive solution. So, what then would be a solution? One way to change the habit and break the cycle is to make people remove their current actions related to the bad habit to stimulate other behaviors. For example, by providing positive information for the desired outcomes related to other behaviors, compared with clear information about the negative outcome of the current habit. Another solution could be making the current positive direct outcomes, unsatisfying, which makes the person start thinking in other ways to satisfy the need, to then provide alternative behaviors which also are focused on short-term positive outcomes, the person will try them. These short-term satisfactions then will also roll out into long term satisfaction and a new, but then positive cycle (Jager, 2003).
So, if you want to break the cycle, you need to find out what needs are satisfied by the involved bad habits. To then be able to find alternative behavior to fulfill the needs. This might help to change behavior and to live the desired lifestyle.