by Lisa Kartos
Initiate change instead of just reacting to events. The word on the tip of all of our tongues here is proactive. We indeed are victims to our own lack of initiation.
We never plan for things in our lives to go wrong. Its not as if we stand at the wedding altar planning to cheat on our mate someday, or to file bankruptcy in our thirties, grow inactive and obese, live a predictable or uneventful life. These aren't things we plan out for ourselves. BUT-we never plan for them not to happen either.
Of course no one is accused of planning to cheat on their wife, but if he also hasn't planned not to, the opportunity will be upon him and the downward spiral, in many cases, will ensue. But if he'd made the conscious effort ahead of time to set limits for himself before the problem was upon him, (ie. not to be alone with a woman who isn't his wife in a secluded place, or don't be overly friendly/flirty to another woman, etc.) he instead presents as prepared, on guard, and so much more likely to think clearly in the character test.
Too many times people sit at the start of a problem or a decision, and they tell themselves or each other, "don't worry, it will all work out". Untrue, assuming you want to grow as a person. You can't just sit idle and react to things as they unfold; no, our judgement of action in pressed moments is almost always wrong, as we instinctively act selfishly when we're caught off guard.
One suggestion that works for me is journaling; I write down ideas of what I can do to initiate helpful changes appropriate to the topic on your heart. For instance, if you continuously sass off to your husband and you want to stop, go sit down and think about ways to practice undoing this. Maybe a sequence like:
*practice apologizing for sassing off right after you did it
*once you got that down, practice trying to keep the sass to yourself
(maybe try and think of a trigger word that will remind you of a time he was extra sweet to you to make you feel love for him and stop the sass talk..write the trigger word on your hand)
*then practice trying to replace the sass in your head with an encouraging or positive word
*onto practicing vocalizing this encouragement to him (try it on a girlfriend a couple of times first so you're ready)
*to eventually this habit is nearing undone
Even if you have good intentions when you say, "I'll try and change it", your mind soon skips off to the next thing, and the next time you're on edge you'll sass again; nothing will ever change and you'll never become a better you.
Another suggestion is telling a friend what you want to work on, maybe asking her to ask you for updates every few days, so you're accountable to somebody for it (even though you're already accountable to God). Or choosing one or two things to work on a month, posting it up on your mirror, and treating yourself to an ice cream or favorite dinner if you follow through. Definitely praying about it, because the Holy Spirit won't ever forget to remind or help you.
Same goes for spending habits (sit down and make out a budget and leave sticky notes over your credit cards or in your wallet as reminders and tell your shopping buddy what you're trying to do so she won't tempt you), or dieting (keep track of what you eat, daily weights, exercise regimen, make out grocery lists, check out restaurant menus online and decide what you'll order before you have social pressures and hunger bearing down on you), hobbies (don't just say you want to read more or cut back on computer time, actually make out a schedule and stick to it). The thing is, if you have a desire to improve yourself in any aspect of your life, initiation and proaction are a must. I promise, you won't get anything accomplished unless you put the effort forth for it.
It is wonderful we think about wanting to be good or better people, but thinking won't get the job done. You much initiate change yourself, and stop just reacting to life events.
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