When you hear the word “habits” what comes to mind? Do you think of your nightly routine? Do you think of a habit that you feel like you can’t kick?
How many habits do you think you have in your day-to-day routine?
Studies show that HALF of the time you’re awake is spent doing automatic behaviors – aka habits. Our brain automates so much of what we do and with half of our day spent on auto-pilot, we need to realize one thing: habits matter.
Every habit in our life – good or bad – exists because it provides us with satisfaction, benefits, or feelings that keeps us coming back to it. Even bad habits provide us some kind of satisfaction or we wouldn’t keep running back to them. That is why breaking a bad habit is much harder than to “just stop doing it.”
Maybe right now your thoughts sound like Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
You are not alone!
There’s good news for you! In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says that His power works best in our weaknesses!
Is there a habit that keeps coming to your mind? Is it binge eating, eating junk food, laziness, watching something you know you shouldn’t? Keep that habit in mind as you go through these steps of how to break unwanted habits.
STEP 1: INVITE GOD INTO IT
Before you do anything, bring God into this part of your life. God wants to be included in every area of your life, including your habits! If your unhealthy habits are sinful, confess them to God. Ask God to give you the power to break those habits and for self-control to develop healthy habits instead of sinful ones.
He will answer that prayer!
STEP 2: RECOGNIZE YOUR TRIGGERS
Next, recognize what triggers your desire to run to that habit and cut the trigger out.
For me, eating junk food is an unhealthy habit that I have a hard time breaking. If I open up the pantry and see chocolate of any kind, I immediately forget why I ever considered eating healthy. Instead of the apple I was going to eat, suddenly chocolate became the better option. To get rid of that trigger, I need to throw away the junk food that would tempt me to eat unhealthy.
What things trigger your instinct to run back to that unhealthy habit? What are some ways you can avoid or get rid of those?
Recognizing these will set you up well to start breaking your unwanted habits!
STEP 3: REPLACE THE BAD HABIT WITH A GOOD ONE
One of the greatest strategies for changing a behavior is to replace it. Going for a run to relieve stress is healthier than eating a pint of ice cream. Reading a book when you’re bored is healthier than scrolling on your phone.
I’ve tried doing this in my own life, specifically in trying to break the habit of complaining. When I’m tempted to complain, I think about what I’m thankful for instead! Seems silly and almost too simple, but it’s changed my knee-jerk reaction when I want to complain!
What can you replace your bad habit with?
STEP 4: GET ACCOUNTABILITY
Lastly, find someone in your life that you can be honest with and who can hold you accountable to making the changes you want to make to build healthier habits. Share what those habits are and what your triggers are!
Breaking a habit on your own is hard to do, but when you have someone that you know is going to ask you about it, there’s added motivation to stick with it.
Following these four steps will help you take massive strides in breaking your unwanted habits!
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul reminds Timothy that the Spirit God gives is one of power, love, and self-control! God enables us to break bad habits. This is incredible news!
Imagine what your life could look like if you finally cut that habit out of your life! Imagine if you never felt the shame or guilt you feel when you return to that habit after you’ve tried to break it too many times to count. I encourage you to take the first step in that direction this week – invite God into it! Ask Him for His help and bring your desires to Him!
Healthy habits are worth pursuing and unhealthy habits are worth leaving behind! You can do this...because habits matter!
Discuss these questions with a friend or spiritual leader to help apply today's reading:
What is a habit that you have attempted to break in the past without success?
Which of these four steps do you need to try this week to help you in this?
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