By Leo Babauta

As you work on doing your replacement habit this week, you’ll likely notice that you get the urge to do the old habit, or the urge to not do the new habit.

These urges are very easy to follow, because we often do it without thinking about it.

The urge to pick your nose comes up, and without thinking, your hand moves to your face. It’s an automatic action that takes no conscious thought on your part.

The trick is to pause.

Start to become aware of your triggers, and the urges that follow the triggers.

See the urge, and then instead of automatically acting on the urge, just pause.

This pause is the key skill you want to practice this week.

Sit there (or stand there) and just watch the urge rise, getting stronger, rise some more. It will eventually crest, then start to fall, and fade away. Then it might come back, rise, crest, then fade away again. If you just pause, you can get through any urge.

If you’re having trouble with an urge, breathe. Go for a walk. Ask someone for help. Do some pushups. Drink some water, or have some tea. Do something to get your mind off the urge, but don’t let yourself follow it.

With practice, you can get good at recognizing the urge when it comes up, and delay, delay, delay. You’ll get good at the pause, and distracting yourself, or just meditating on the urge. You’ll become the master of your urges, instead of allowing them to master you.