Habits run every part of our daily life. They are potent factors because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns that express our character and produce our effectiveness or our ineffectiveness. A great teacher once taught that our habits are like a cable that we weave every single day, and soon enough, the routine can not break.
Our habits can be learned and unlearned. However, the process of breaking a habit calls for a serious commitment. Many people usually do not admit that breaking deeply buried habitual tendencies such as procrastination, selfishness, laziness, prayerlessness, or impatience requires a tremendous amount of effort.
- Understanding the Habits?
The dictionary defines a habit as a routine or practice, an automatic response to a specific situation. It is easy to overestimate the power of one determining moment in someone’s life and underestimate the value and effect of daily minor improvements. Every alcoholic started with a single glass of beer, and the nicotine addict probably began with a cigarette butt.
Habits are the proverbial compound interest of self-improvement or vice versa. We have different habits, from the mundane ones like brushing our teeth at a time of the day to the bad habits like oversleeping, laziness, spending too much time on the internet, and alcoholism. These bad habits will all harm your capacity to live a whole life in the future.
How then can we break these bad habits to prevent the accumulation of poor decisions and many missteps leading to our decline? Paul wrote the Roman church that the believers must not conform to the patterns of the word but rather have their minds fully transformed by testing and discerning the will of God for their lives (Romans 12:2). We will look at the different ways we can employ to be free of negative patterns in our life.
- Decide to Break them.
Before you begin anything, you must prepare for a habit change. There is a high probability that you have tried to break free in the past and failed. However, past failure does not mean that you will fall in the future. The failure might have been a result of not having a well-thought-out strategy to break your patterns.
Planning to break a habit is not the same as identifying the goal of the exercise and putting a starting date for the change. I have heard stories of many people who set yearly resolutions, but since there was no specific plan to help them achieve them, they quickly never got close to any good results. Therefore, now that you want to break bad habits, write down your specific routines and goals in mind.
Habakkuk 2:2 “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming.”
- Trust God
Most people try to quit bad habits by being dependent on willpower alone. This is usually when people say that they will never do the said thing again. A few days later, you will find them stuck deep in the same habits they hoped to quit. Sure enough, a couple of people were somewhat successful through willpower alone, but many of them easily backslide into their old patterns given a chance.
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
Your perseverance is established in your habits as a result of your relationship with God. Whether you go to heaven or hell is determined by your habits. You can see inside a man’s soul when you are shown his behaviors. Whether you persist to the end or leave the faith will be determined by the habits you create and keep today.
Therefore, your habits are one of the essential components of your personality. So, trusting God will assist you in being more deliberate and effective in developing life-giving Christian habits.
- Understand your Habit Loop
Since you are still reading through this article, I am pretty sure your interest is how you can bring a permanent change to your habits. In the book Power of Habits, Charles Duhigg talks about “the habit loops.” These are actions that carry you from cue to reward. We can adequately identify the habit by analyzing its routine. This includes three steps: identifying the situational trigger, identifying the satisfaction resulting from the pattern, and finally, learning the emotional reaction or response you obtain from the action.
The second way to understand the bad habits in our life is seeing them how God sees them. 1 John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The term “confess” is loosely translated from “saying the same thing as God.” we must see our bad habits as God sees them. Many believers try hard to rationalize their sins. Some of us will say that “everybody cheats,” “everybody does not file their proper taxes,” It is not really sinning!
As a result, we tend not to identify these as bad habits. We must humbly recognize our vulnerability. Abraham had been a man who was full of faith, and twenty years after lying about his wife, he repeated the mistake (Genesis 20:2-7, 12:10-20). This realization that our community does not define the standard of our lives is beneficial to break our bad habits.
- Avoid Triggers
It is an arduous task to reconcile the truth that our old nature is dead, and we are now the righteousness of God? Many new believers struggle with the most common question: “how do I avoid backsliding into my old habits?” One of the tips is to avoid people, locations, or circumstances that remind you of the habit. No one can put fire on their bosom and not get burnt (Proverbs 6:27).
You can avoid triggers by recognizing the temptation and praying for the strength to say “No!” We have all been showered with God’s sufficient grace that teaches and enables us to say no to all ungodliness.
- Be Accountable
You should be accountable to; one is somebody else going in the same direction to your goals, and the other is God. On this journey, you don’t have to go it alone. Instead, you should regularly contact someone who shares your desire to achieve a long-term change. Talk or meet with this person several times a week to share your experiences. Some acts demand a greater level of understanding than merely reading information on the internet. You may need to seek expert therapy or attend regular sessions to overcome a severe addiction. Expert help is recommended for certain addictions, like alcoholism, drug addiction, binge eating, chain-smoking, and eating disorders.
We must also remain accountable to God. We can do this through prayer and fasting. Abraham protected himself by lying about his wife. In the same way, our sinful habits are usually rooted in our faithlessness and not wanting to wait on him. However, through prayer, we are able to surrender to the Lord, and instead of being filled with disappointment, God promises us His peace when we surrender our anxieties to Him (Philippians 4:6).
- Practice New Godly Habits.
Helpful spiritual habits are driven by our desire to obey the Lord and our obedience. Good habits protect what is important. They keep us aligned on the track of perseverance when we do not feel like persevering. They keep us in God’s word, among God’s people, and in prayer even when we ride the emotional ups and downs of our walk of faith.
Galatians 6:7-8 “ Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
The ultimate goal of pursuing godly habits is possessing Jesus and knowing him. This is because he is the apex of our reward. Then our persevering in faith is not about our techniques and our actions but about Him. God will hold us through our habits.
- Take it a day at a time.
The mountain may look too big to move. Some of our habits have become part of our lifestyles. Yet so, Jesus said, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20). Every journey, no matter how long, starts with a single step of faith. Do not worry whether a year from the date you will still be on the path. Take it a step at a time. Start small and create new good habits anticipating the achievement of the goals you have set.
When you fall, forgive yourself and get back on the road. Do not let anything keep you in the mud. If you believe with all your heart and consistently improve, you will break the bad habits in your life and set a new standard in your life.