Quitting old habits

Ishaan Gupta
2 min readJul 18, 2022

Why it’s so hard to quit the things that kill us.

I’ve been trying to change up some of my habits, one at a time. And it’s so. freaking. hard. It rationally never made sense to me until I did some revision on mainstream neuroscience.

From what my simple mind comprehended,

There’s 2 main forces at play in your brain: the neocortex and the limbic brain. Your neocortex is responsible for reasoning and logic. Your limbic brain is more driven by emotions, focusing on memories and what makes you happy in the shorter run.

You’re basically run by 2 constantly bickering voices that make peace with each other sometimes.

Your limbic brain is wired to expect a positive feeling — or the perception of a positive feeling — at the end of your bad habits.

You drink, you get intoxicated, it makes you feel happy momentarily. So you do it again. And again. And then once a week. And before you know it, you’re a depraved alcoholic looking for an excuse to pour a drink.

Your neocortex keeps things in check and calculates for delayed gratification. But as the day goes by and you spend your cognitive energy on everyday intense tasks, your limbic brain starts to take over slowly.

That’s why most people binge eat at night, why they drink every other night — they simply do not have the energy left anymore.

There’s no lesson here, just a thought. In case you’ve tried to quit on things before, you may have felt guilty and self-destructive before. Be a little gentle with yourself. Your brain tries to keep you happy, even if it may not make you happy later. Your failure does not indicate impossibility. With small, constant, atomic changes, you can get where you want to be. It’s gonna take a lot of failure but hey, everyone fails. Get up, get back at it.

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Ishaan Gupta

I want to help neurodivergent, high-achieving, creative professionals navigate consistency, productivity, success, and finding happiness as an adult