Breaking bad habits isn’t enough. You have to replace them with positive habits. If you don’t, you will fall back into the bad habit or, maybe worse, replace it with another bad habit.
I write and manage online communities for a non-profit that helps people out of drug and alcohol addictions. They’ve been doing it for 50 years in the Bay Area in California. My mother-in-law works with a lot of people struggling with addictions as well. Both agree that if you don’t deal with the root of the addiction, addicts will relapse or exchange one addiction (because that is what a bad habit really is) for another.
Getting rid of bad and destructive habits leaves a hole in your life – emotionally, financially, and in your schedule. If you are an alcoholic who went to the bar every night to get hammered with your buddies, it isn’t enough to stop going to the bar or to stop drinking. You have to replace that activity with another, positive activity. If you don’t, you set yourself up for failure.
Maybe you’re not an alcoholic. Maybe you are you’re own worst, most-abusive critic. (I struggle with this.) You have to break the habit of self-destruction and replace it with habits that nurture your soul. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Become aware of your inner-dialog. (Got this from Dr. Phil. He’s not all bad, you know!) Then, replace it with a positive dialog. Journal about something you like about yourself and the world around you. Even though it may be hard, keep it up. It will help.
Even though His followers regularly misrepresent Him, Jesus had things spot-on. He talks about spiritual side of addiction:
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Matthew 12:43-45a
We must replace the root of addiction with something positive. If there is a spiritual root, and there often is, you have to deal with that as well.
Sometimes we can’t handle destructive behaviors on our own. We need rehabilitation services and professional counseling. Often, we have to talk with doctors and get medical attention to help us over the bumps. Seeking professional help does not make you weird or crazy. I’ve been to a professional counselor several times. I have family members who were on anti-depression meds during some pretty dark periods of their life. Because we sought help, we got through. If we hadn’t…well…things would be very bad. If you need help, get it! You are so worth it!
I’ve dealt with bad habits. I’m dealing with bad habits. I don’t have it all figured out, but I hope that what I’ve learned along the way can help. As I once read, “I’m just one beggar telling another where he found some food.”