Are You a Slave to Bad Habit Dragons?

Bad Habit Dragons

By Daniel G. Amen, MD

Your brain is always listening to the inner dragons that breathe fire on your emotional brain. If you’re like many people, Bad Habit Dragons may be running wild and may have wrestled control of your brain and your life.


If you’re like many people, Bad Habit Dragons may be running wild and may have wrestled control of your brain and your life. Click To Tweet

For many people, as the pandemic has dragged on, long-time good habits have given way to bad ones. People who hadn’t indulged in bread, cookies, or muffins for years have turned to baking up a storm. Others who had strong work habits at the office are finding themselves being distracted, inattentive, and unproductive while trying to work from home. Still, others who exercised on a regular basis no longer motivate themselves to get moving and have become couch potatoes. The rampant stress and anxiety of the pandemic have allowed Bad Habit Dragons to take control.


Habits form through a process called long-term potentiation. When neurons fire together, they wire together, and habits and responses become an ingrained part of your life. Long-term potentiation occurs when the brain learns something new, whether it’s good or bad for you, and causes networks of brain cells to make new connections. Early in the learning process, the connections are weak, but over time, as you repeat behaviors, the networks become stronger, making the behaviors more likely to become automatic, reflexive, or habitual.

Some of your habits move your life forward in ways that make you proud, while other habits become dragons that lead to trouble in relationships, work, and finances. Wasting time, allowing distractions, interrupting, arguing, and being disorganized or oblivious are habits that hurt you. They have a negative impact on your health, relationships, or finances; others find it annoying, and it becomes a dragon that influences your brain.

There are thousands of bad habits. In my new book, Your Brain Is Always Listening, I introduce you to the following 10 common Bad Habit Dragons that steal your happiness, health, and relationships.


1. Saying Yes, When You Should Say No Bad Habit Dragons

When someone asks you to do something, you reflexively say yes without thinking through all the consequences and end up so busy you don’t have time for family and other priorities.

2. Automatic No or Arguing Bad Habit Dragons

This dragon is stuck in the terrible twos. It is normal for 2-year-old children to assert their independence and automatically say no. It’s cute when they’re two, but it’s really irritating when they’re 6, 16, 46, or 86.

3. Interrupting, No-Filter Bad Habit Dragons

Watch any political talk show, and you’ll see and hear these Bad Habit Dragons screaming and talking over each other. They don’t really listen; they say the first thing that comes to mind. As soon as someone else says something, the other person is formulating a response without really knowing what the other person is saying. Political pundits do this. Supervisors do this. Many parents do this—and it shuts down communication.

4. Trouble with the Truth Bad Habit Dragons

Lying leads to mistrust in your relationships, and if you can lie to others, you also lie to yourself. Of course, you do not need to be brutally honest. I often tell my patients there are ways to say things and there are more tactful ways to say things. Lying is a common bad habit. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, most people lie once or twice a day.

5. Distracted, Obsessive, Multitasking Bad Habit Dragons

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, email, text messages, the internet, and streaming services are stealing our time and attention. Technology has hijacked developing brains with potentially serious consequences for many, including trouble in relationships, difficulty with focus, and more.

6. Procrastinating (I’ll Do It Tomorrow) Bad Habit Dragons

Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions. When you wait until the very last minute to get things done (completing schoolwork, paperwork, or chores; paying bills; buying birthday, anniversary, or Christmas gifts, etc.), it increases stress and often irritates those around you who feel the need to pick up the loose pieces.

7. Disorganized Bad Habit Dragons

Through a series of Bad Habit Dragons (Saying Yes, When You Should Say No; Distracted, Obsessive, Multitasking; Procrastinating [I’ll Do It Tomorrow]) or being overloaded, many people struggle with organization, both for time and their space. They tend to be late, finish tasks at the last moment, or have trouble completing tasks on time. They also tend to struggle to keep their spaces tidy, especially their rooms, book bags, filing cabinets, drawers, closets, and paperwork.

8. Let’s Have a Problem Bad Habit Dragons

Do you know people who think the sky is always falling? Their minds habitually go to the worst possible outcomes, and they express it to others. They frequently say negative things, or they constantly stir up trouble. I call this automatic tendency the Let’s Have a Problem Bad Habit Dragon.

9. Overeating Bad Habit Dragons

Nearly everywhere you go (schools, work, shopping malls, airports, grocery stores, etc.), someone is trying to sell you food that will kill you early and that feeds the Overeating Bad Habit Dragons.

10. Oblivious Bad Habit Dragons

This is likely the worst of all the Bad Habit Dragons. It is where you just don’t think about the consequences of your behavior before you engage in it. This is what happens when you let your brain run on autopilot, listening to the loudest dragons.

How many of these Bad Habit Dragons do you have? Fortunately, bad habits can be stopped with training. In Your Brain Is Always Listening, I show you how to convert Bad Habit Dragons into good ones using 5 simple steps.

Your Brain Is Always Listening is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and New York Times bestselling author Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, Dr. Amen equips you with powerful weapons to battle the inner dragons that are breathing fire on your brain, driving unhealthy behaviors, and robbing you of your joy and contentment. Order your copy here.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of Amen Clinics patients who have already tamed their dragons and overcome their symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, and more, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. This article is very interesting. I am curious how depression and anxiety feed these dragons or do the dragons feed the mental health issues?

    Comment by Ramona — February 12, 2021 @ 11:49 AM

  2. Hello Ramona. We have several other blogs on the various types of dragons here:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2021 @ 10:44 AM

  3. i found this article interesting amd informative.

    Comment by betty lou — February 17, 2021 @ 4:24 AM

  4. Good for thought. My dragons have grow nlarger as I age.I need to work on acceptance. Live the Serenity Prayer

    Comment by Patricia Johnston — February 17, 2021 @ 4:45 AM

  5. I have a friend who continually finds fault with how folks on our church staff are doing their job. She tells them what needs to be done. She also does this with me and others. Is there a kind way to let her know I don’t agree with the criticisms? I have a feeling she needs to feel important snd may be hurt that she hadn’t been given a position of leadership.

    Comment by Brenda Johnson — February 17, 2021 @ 7:05 AM

  6. what role does the Holy Spirit play in confronting these dragons? barbara

    Comment by Barbara — February 17, 2021 @ 9:11 AM

  7. Good food for thought. Is there a dragon for constantly thinking about bad choices we’ve made? I find especially during this past year everyone has more idle time to think about previous poor choices and stop dwelling on it.
    We don’t have to have a substance abuse problem to remember the Serenity Prayer. Guess I need to take my own advice.

    Comment by Lisa — February 18, 2021 @ 5:24 AM

  8. The article has provided insightful information, I appreciate Dr. Amen sharing this information with the public.

    Comment by Audrey Carter — February 18, 2021 @ 6:01 AM

  9. Hello Lisa, thanks for reaching out. For more information on the different types of dragons you might be struggling with, check out this link:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 18, 2021 @ 10:00 AM

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