My last post was on how to form good habits. If you have not seen that, kindly click here to read it. Today we will examine how to break bad habits.
It is possible that you do what you do not want to do and may be you end up not doing what you intend doing just like the biblical Paul cried out ‘What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise…I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time’ Rom 7:15,19,20 THE MESSAGE
Just as seen above, you decide one way and then act in another and you feel bad and guilty each time you act in this way. You decide to do good but you end up the other way. It is possible that you have tried to stop but the more you try the more you fail and you have resorted to self-pity, guilt, rationalizing the action or even giving up on yourself. I have good news for you today; therefore, do not give up on yourself or leave yourself to be tossed here and there by the bad habit for you can break it. Do not leave yourself to the fate of the bad habit. You are unique and special and therefore you cannot afford to allow the habit to mar your destiny. Help yourself to your feet and let’s take a journey of breaking bad habits and forming new and good ones.
“Habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it every day and soon it cannot be broken.” Said Horace Mann. Habit is not formed in a day as it takes a span of time to form it until it becomes part of an individual and then difficult to break. Though Horace Mann said habit ‘is like a cable which soon cannot be broken’, it can be broken but it takes a process and not just a quick fix to break it. You do not expect to break a habit you have formed over the years say fifteen years to be broken in a day or over the night. No, it doesn’t happen just like that.
It is quite unfortunate that many people want a quick fix to the bad habit they have formed over a long period of time. They want to be free of such habit in a twinkle of an eye. They want to break the habit but don’t want to be involved in the process of breaking it. I am not promising a quick fix to breaking bad habits for there is no short cut to it- we need to cure the cause and not the symptoms. You have to follow a process to break the habits and you must be committed to the process to get yourself free from the cord of habit you have weaved over the years.
You formed the habit by weaving a strand each day to form the cable. Then now it is time to get each strand off the cable each day. You don’t have to go for the cable at once for if you do, you will meet a resistance than you bargained for. Just go for the strand and not for the cable. Remove each strand one after the other and as you do that the cable lose its strength gradually.
How do you remove each strand of a bad habit? Say no to it when you have the urge for it and then replace the urge with a new strand of a good habit. As you remove the strand from the cable of the old habit, you simultaneously replace the action by weaving the cable of a new habit strand by strand each day. What do you take note of in this process? Time of course! It involves time. As the old habit weakens the new habit is born and just like a neonate or infant, it needs to be nurtured until it can survive on its own.
Do you want to break the habit of cigarette smoking, then start today by refusing the urge and respond to the urge with a new habit like learning how to play a guitar or writing. Do you want to break the habit of pornography or masturbation, why not replace it with a new and good one say engaging the creative capacity of your mind to create value rather than burying it in lust; writing a song; listening to ted talks. Do you want to break the habit of procrastination, then when you need to get a thing done, do it immediately even if you do not feel like doing it. As you commit yourself to this, you get better and stronger. Breaking bad habits involves commitment to the process.
July 20, 1969, the first man landed on the moon but before anyone could travel to the moon they have to break out of the tremendous gravitational force or pull of the earth. If not, they cannot get to the moon as the earth will pull them back to herself. To get loose of the earth’s gravitational pull, more energy was spent in the first few minutes of liftoff and travel than was used afterwards.
Does this ring a bell? Yes, it does. Just as more energy was needed to break loose of the earth’s gravitational pull at the start of liftoff so is it when you want to break a bad habit- more energy is needed initially. Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, selfishness, anger, pornography, masturbation, fornication, wild living, laziness among others involve more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives. “Lift off’ takes a tremendous effort, but once we break out of the gravitational pull, our freedom takes on a whole new dimension. Be ready to pay the price of your ‘lifeoff’. It might not be comfortable…it might be as though the world is turning upside down…it might be as though your body cannot take it. These are all just the forces you need to break at the beginning of your journey to a new and good habit. Once you are able to stand your ground against this initial force then your journey becomes easier.
It is also important to remember to avoid the environment that fuels a bad habit. Try as much as you can to avoid what triggers or favors a bad habit as you replace it with a new and good one. You will need to stand against a greater force if you do not avoid the triggers or the environment that favors a bad habit.
It is quite unfortunate that we have some believers who are entangled in some bad habits such as pornography, masturbation, laziness, anger even sexual immorality because they refused the process. Forming or breaking habits all involve a principle which you have the power to follow but you do not have the power over its consequences. Paul counselled the church because of this as he admonished that we should form good habits as children of light so that we will not create room to bad habits. You can form bad habits irrespective of if you are born again or not. All it takes is putting on the strand one after the other- practice.
‘But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God)’. Gal 5:16 AMP. Can you see the admonition of Paul here as he said we should walk and live habitually in the spirit, responsive to, controlled and guided by the spirit? Form a habit of responding to the Spirit of God in you and in so doing you will not give in to bad habits.
It is also important to take note of this concerning young believers and convert who have spent their lives in wild living and some other bad habits before they believed. Now that they are born again, they have the potential or power to live above such habits but they needed to follow the principles above likewise to break the bad habits and to form new and good habits. This likewise involves time, therefore we should be patient with them, nurture and help them as matured believers.
Lastly, habits are broken at the feet of Christ. You need to reconnect to God’s Spirit who can help you to stand your ground against the forces of bad habits. The Spirit of God is called the Helper because He helps and empowers to stand the urge and pleasures of the flesh. You get reconnected to the Spirit of God by accepting the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus. You need to have faith in the saving power of Christ and acknowledge what He has done for you to be saved. He is waiting for you to come home. Jesus loves you and He went all the way for you. He is ready to forgive your sins and give you a fresh start on an advantaged foot. Allow Him to wipe out all the records of your sins. You are not beyond the reach of the saving power of Christ Jesus. Irrespective of how terrible you think your sins or habits are, the blood of Jesus is able to wipe them out. ‘This is God’s Message: “If your sins are blood-red, they’ll be snow-white. If they’re red like crimson, they’ll be like wool”’ Isa 1:18 THE MESSAGE
Pray this prayer with me if you are ready to accept this gift of salvation. ‘Lord Jesus, thank you for your love for me and for going all the way to die in my stead on the cross of Calvary. Thank you for taking the punishments for my sins. I acknowledge I am a sinner and I need you to save me. I acknowledge your saving grace and I ask that you forgive my sins and save me from sin, death and the devil in Jesus name. I confess you as my Lord and Savior in Jesus name. Thank you Lord for blotting my sins away and for translating me into the kingdom of light.’
Glory to God! Heaven is rejoicing over you right now. I congratulate you and welcome you to the family of God. Welcome home beloved! Now you have the strength in your inside to break any habits you have formed which you do not like. No one can stop you except you.
I encourage you to fellowship with your Father in His word and prayers as often as you can- this is a good habit that helps a lot. Also join a Bible believing church where the word of God is priority so that you can grow. You can always reach out to me for counseling. Grace to you in Jesus name. I love you.
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,”