There is a strong energy in every one of us called habit energy. Vasana is the Sanskrit word for habit energy. Every one of us has habit energies that push us to say and do things we don't want to say or do. These habit energies damage us and our relationships to other people. Intellectually we know that saying or doing a certain thing will cause a lot of suffering, and yet we say or do it. And once you say or do something the damage is done. Then you regret it. You beat your chest and pull your hair. You say: "I am not going to say or do that thing again." But though you say this with sincerity, the next time the situation presents itself, you say and do the same thing. This is the power of habit energy that your parents and ancestors may have transmitted to you.

Mindful breathing can help you recognize habit energy when it emerges. You don't have to fight that energy; you only have to recognize it as yours and smile at it. That is enough. "Hello there, my habit energy. I know you're there, but you cannot do anything to me." You smile at it, and then you are free. This is a wonderful protection.

Thich Nhat Hanh in Be Free Where You Are