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Can You Change Your Habits?
by Annagail Lynes
1/12/2008 / Christian Living
Do you struggle with bad habits? We all do.
For the longest time, I struggled with two very bothersome habits. I wanted to break them. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do it. I tried stopping cold turkey. I tried weaning off. I tried pleading with God to help me. After what seemed like forever, God intervened and broke those two habits off my life.
Most habits aren't that difficult to break. Over the years, most of us have gotten in the habit of doing certain things, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or biting our fingernails.
We have done these things so many times that we have created a deep ditch in our minds. We have gone over that road so many times that the habit seems impossible to deal with on our own.
When we have bad habits, they affect our thoughts, our words and our actions. Our habits determine who we are and who we will become.
What do we want to change? We must take an inventory of the bad habits we would like to break. Then write them down and prioritize them.
Benjamin Franklin worked on one habit a week for a thirteen-week period. Therefore, in a year, he added thirteen new habits. Each of which he worked on for four weeks a year. Imagine if we did that for five years, we would add sixty-five new habits. Isn't that wonderful?
The key is to replace the old habit with a new, more healthier one. It is like when a baby cries because we removed his blanket or her bottle. If we replace the missing item with a stuffed animal or something else of interest, the baby stops crying.
An example of a replacement habit is if our habit is to eat two hours before we go to bed. We can replace that habit with exercising, drinking more water or both. We replaced one bad habit with one that is healthier.
After we have made the list of habits we want to change, after we have prioritized them, we take them to God.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 to, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
Without God, we set ourselves up for failure. Ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5) on how to break those bad habits. Discuss the habits He wants to replace them with. Write down what God reveals. Then pray for His help.
Let's discuss some ways to ensure we break our bad habits:
We can turn our habit into a goal. Write it down. What is it that we want to accomplish? Make that goal into a simple confession that is in the present tense.
For example, let's say that we want to quit smoking. We can make a confession that says, "Through Christ Jesus, I am free from smoking."
Then we should make that declaration when we wake up, before we go to bed, while we are at stop lights, while we are in the rest room, while we are watching television.
What would we look like if we accomplished that goal? What images represent that goal to us? What will we do after our goal is complete? Maybe we want to run a marathon, which is something we couldn't do while we smoked.
Find images that represent that. Perhaps a flyer for a marathon six months from now. Maybe a picture of a pair of new running shoes we will purchase as a reward for being smoke-free for six months.
We can put those images where we work, where we exercise or on our night stand, in our car, on our bathroom mirror, in our Bible. Anywhere we will see them on a regular basis. We need to make the confession every time we see the image. We must keep it before our eyes.
By doing this, we are following the principle in Habakkuk 2:2, " Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it."
Continue to perform the new habit over and over again. It will seem foreign at first. A routine will develop the more we do it.
Every time we are tempted, we must choose to execute that new habit. The process may seem hopeless at first, but eventually, it will become second nature.
Then after we have mastered it, we can move onto the next habit on our list.
In order to break bad habits, we replace them with good habits. Then we write our habits down as goals. We turn our goals into confessions, which we declare every day. We put images in front of our eyes to keep our focus.
If we choose to continually replace the old habits with the new ones, the new habits become good strongholds in our lives. By doing this, we are effectively breaking the bad habits and creating more healthier ones.
Annagail Lynes is a pharmacy technician, certified life coach and ordained minister. She is helping people move forward after trauma by helping them discover their purpose. Follow her blog at 316counseling.com
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