How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
One way of stopping doing something that you know you should not do is to dig your heels in and refuse to do it.
Be vigilant. Catch yourself in the act of just starting and say 'no' or 'I will not', quite vigorously. Get cross with yourself, if this will help. Put a parent tone into your voice if needed. Or maybe be a truculent child, refusing to go along.
If others are involved, for example by offering you a cigarette, say 'no' and chide them for trying to tempt you.
Then feel proud of refusing, of having the strength and determination to not do 'that thing'.
A friend buys a person who is at risk of alcoholism 'one more drink'. The person refuses to drink it, just leaving it on the table. They gain strength from looking at the full glass and knowing they are resisting temptation.
A man prone to anger refuses to get into an argument, walking away and biting his tongue when provocative jibes are made.
A campaign to help young children resist being tempted away by abductors has the oft-repeated slogan 'Just Say No'.
Refusal is a simple strategy, though if it was easy perhaps more people might use it. Yet many do use this approach, very successfully. All it takes is willpower.
Much of this strategy happens as an internal conversation, with at least two voices involved. One voice wants to do the wrong action. The other voice takes a position of authority or resistance, saying 'no' in wilful and determined way.
The internal discussion may be started along the line of a rational discussion. Do you really want to stop. Really? Who is the 'you' that wants to stop? Who is the 'you' that does not? Who is in charge? The 'you' that wants to stop has to take the reins here, making decisions that are best for you in the long run.