Three Simple Steps to Let Go of Habits That No Longer Serve You.
Have you ever tried to break a repeating or habitual bad habit?
Does it seem that the more you try to stop doing what doesn’t serve you, the more you continue to do it? Undoing bad habits can be much easier when you know that it isn’t about breaking the bad habit . . . rather, it starts with a choice. Let’s look at that choice and three easy steps you can take to let go of unwanted habits.
But first let’s start by getting rid of the elephant in the room. It’s often said that you can break and/or create a habit in 21 days. If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried that, marking off the days on your calendar and then in about 30 or 45 days realizing that it didn’t work for you. You’re left feeling like a failure because you were told by all of the experts that new habits are as simple as doing something for 21 days. This leaves you feeling something must be wrong with you – after all they are the experts! Not True!
Habits are not your character and they are not your identity. They are learned behaviors that have become a part of you and express themselves as an automatic response to a circumstance or situation. But, they are not your identity or character.
It is also helpful to acknowledge that habits don’t just get dismissed by saying, “I should change that.” Shoulds are obligations, which are debts. Habits are not changed by putting yourself further into debt!
Habits are defaults that you do without even thinking about them. They’re like a program on your computer that just shows up and runs when a certain key is hit.
So, what are your options? I have found this to be very effective in helping me respond differently to circumstances that previously caused me to respond with a ‘habit’ that wasn’t useful. The word is choice. A choice is an opportunity to make a different decision. Choice is a gift that God gave us. It is the opportunity to choose and not go into a default habit. Choices are intentional and reflect a desire.
One of the choices that I made a number of years ago was to pursue the Fruit of the Spirit as taught in Galatians 5:22-23: “The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
As I read this scripture, the word gentleness caught my attention. I began to learn that I have a choice on how I respond to a circumstance. When an old habit response shows up that I know no longer serves me, I can chose to connect to gentleness (or any of the other fruits of the spirit) instead of trying to fix the habit.
What habits do you have that aren’t serving you? Most habits are the opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit! What if you develop the capacity to connect to the Fruit of the Spirit and let that become a regular choice?
The Fruit of the Spirit is enticing, safe, protecting and encouraging. Habits that aren’t useful, on the other hand, are reactive and keep us in a ‘stuck’ mode. On top of that, we tend to judge ourselves, self-criticize and feel like a failure.
Which Fruit of the Spirit appeals to you? This gives you a new connection and focus. No longer are you just trying to stop doing your ‘bad habit.’ Are you ready to change your focus and change your choices?
I remember confronting a pattern in my life regarding fear (the full story is on the podcast – click here for the podcast of this lesson). Instead of giving into the pattern of fear, then terror and then depression, I simply drew a line in the sand and said “No!” I connected to gentleness and treated me gently in the midst of a challenge. I have now made that choice many times – each time it gets easier and easier!
3 EASY Steps for you:
- Become aware of the habits that aren’t useful. These habits keep you looping, self-criticizing and beating yourself up.
- Next, look at the Fruits of the Spirit. Which one(s) most attracts your heart? Which one feels and sounds attractive to you? Which one calls you and says ‘choose me’?
- Take some time to look up that word and study it. What would it look like, smell like, and feel like to be connected to that fruit? On the other hand, what is the opposite? Sometimes the opposite (antonym) helps us understand the word.
Real transformation comes as you move from learned behaviors that don’t support you to learned choices that do support you. YOU are worth that change! Enjoy picking new fruit!