Walking into Walmart a few days ago, the sun was shining and its warmth fell down upon me and seemed to make everyone around me happy and at peace. But then, it hit me. It almost overcame me. This strong desire to ... to ... buy a (I hate to shock you) a Vault (a soda with lots and lots of sugar and much caffeine that tastes oh so yummy).
I know that may seem very silly to you and also minor in comparison to the bad habits many deal with, but you do not understand, if I have one Vault, I want two, and if I have one today, I need one tomorrow, and on and on it goes. Now, to you a Vault may not seem a biggie, but for me with Type 2 diabetes looming (I had gestational diabetes when I was expecting), I have no choice but to behave myself when it comes to sugar. Let's face it: We all have bad habits. Though I do not have time nor space to elaborate on all bad habits in our lives, let's look at a process that just might make a difference in the success or failure of breaking a bad habit.
First and foremost, determine with resolve that you want to break this habit. Sounds simple? I know it is not. The decision is foremost, but the actions next are the key. Writing it down in a journal will help. I know what you are thinking, "If I write it down it commits me!" Exactly! That's what we are aiming for here: commitment.
Your habit may be smoking, lying, gossiping, overeating, drinking, cursing, stealing, drugs, inappropriate literature ... aka: porn or a myriad of others. If you want to go a step further toward meeting this goal successfully, enlist the help of a friend. No way, you say? If I tell someone else, then I'll have to really try. Exactly! Having a partner of accountability is crucial to our success in breaking our bad habit. Some habits need the help of a physician. These are habits such as: drinking, smoking, drug abuse or eating disorders. A family doctor can equip you with what you need to really kick a habit such as these.
Secondly, there is a principle called the "putting on and putting off" principle. It is found in Ephesians. I first learned this principle in a counseling class and it changed my life. I will condense it and give you the KSW (kimshortwolfe) version of this. When ya wannna quit something, (with God's help) you push it away from you and take on something else.
Let me illustrate. If you want to stop gossipin', you need to speak kind words. I will never, ever forget a story of my mother. When I went to high school at 14 years old, my mother came with me. Yep, that's right: what every 14-year-old wants: their mother to get a job in their high school the very year they are entering. We laugh much about this now and actually it turned out great: getting rides to and from school, (no more bus); running to her when I needed money for something etc., etc.
That summer at band camp our counselor began talking about mom. "Your mom kills me," she said. "Some of us will be in the teachers' lounge just gossiping about someone and really giving them down the road, and we'll say 'Donna, (aka: mom) what do you think?' and your mom will always say, 'I really couldn't say'." The band camp counselor continued, "we all just drop our heads in shame and walk away feeling terrible because your mom would never gossip with us."
Mom stopped them in their tracks by refusing to participate with them. I was so proud.
And since I mentioned mom, she taught me something else too: "If someone talks to you about someone else, they will talk about you to that person or another." That stings, but it is true. Mom taught me to speak kind words instead of gossiping. You know the saying: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." That saying is in the "All moms say it" book.
Some other habits worth breaking are: lying. If you want to stop lying, you need to speak the truth. Now, that doesn't mean saying whatever is on your mind and falls under the category of being true. That could get us in a lot of trouble. We've all had our kids say things when they are little that are true (and usually in public), but are not appropriate things to say. But replacing lying with truth will break the web of deceit that lying causes.
If stealing is a habit, it can fall under the category of little things from work to grand theft auto. The only way to stop is to replace stealing with work. We need to work hard for some money to buy what we need.
Possibly you have trouble with words - you find yourself being cutting, harsh or sarcastic. It is not enough to just try and stop. Replacing harsh words with good and edifying words that build people up rather than tear them down is the key. And if you want to be better instead of bitter and angry, put off anger by being kind, tender and forgiving.
I will let you in on a secret. Sometimes in life, we have to "fake it until we make it." By that I mean, we do not always feel like being nice, happy and sweet. Nor do we feel like smiling, but if we will fake it for a bit, we will begin feeling it before you know it! I promise this is true. It is not easy to be kind and loving with someone who is not kind and loving back, but you will be the winner and sleep better tonight if you take the high road and chose positive reactions instead of negative reactions.
Breaking a bad habit is never easy. I already mentioned that there are some habits that would fall into the category of addictions and support is necessary to ensure success. For instance, an Alcoholics Anonymous group is a great support group if you are trying to stop the family destructive habit of alcohol. Eating disorders are another that requires support and lots of it. This affects both young ladies and men, and you may be surprised, but my generation of middle-aged women is among the highest for this disorder. That's due to the "Twiggy phenomena" that was prevalent during the 1970's.
Porn addictions are a major cause of divorce today, but there is support to aid in breaking these destructive paths and a good place to start is your doctor, clergy or counselor as you move on to a more free and happy life.
Life is too short to live under the bondage of a bad habit or addiction. The principle of "putting off the bad habit and taking on something positive " is the key to happiness, wholeness and freedom as we have never experienced before. We were not meant to just exist and get up to the same routine dullness and bad habits that seem to make life bearable. We were meant to thrive and make a difference all the while experiencing happiness, joy and fulfillment. With the help of God, you can kick a bad habit and have the life he wants for you! I want to help, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for referrals to physicians, counselors, clergy and support groups.
(Kimberly Short Wolfe, MA, is a licensed chaplain and counselor for Cornerstone Christian Counseling. Call: 304-940-9362 or email: email@example.com)