Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Changing Habits

We are captive to our habits. We want to change our ways and accomplish more—whether it’s pursuing a hobby, getting in better shape physically or finishing a to-do list.  You may be disorganized and a good procrastinator.  If you really want to change you can, but you must set clear goals and change your habits.

       Habits rule us whether they are bad or good.  We develop a variety of habits or routines throughout our life time.  Habits help us in many ways.  Good habits, firmly established take little thought.  We do them almost automatically.  We drive to work taking the same route each day.  We pay our bills at the same time each month.  We go to church every Sunday.  These are all habits or routines we’ve established.

       Habits begin with one thought.  That’s right ONE THOUGHT!  We think about doing something and we decide to do it. If we’re changing a negative habit, for example in our diet, we now have an attitude of caution and awareness about what we eat.  We also have an “I can” attitude and feel optimistic about accomplishing our goal. The attitude change leads to an action which leads to a repeated action and eventually we have a habit. The key is to keep doing the new behavior for six or eight weeks. It will take this long to establish a new habit.

       A negative habit is overcome one day at a time, the same way it began.  A new habit is established one day at a time.  Here are a few tips to help you:

       1.  Focus on your successes and congratulate yourself for these. 

       2.  Expect to relapse and learn from them.  Not many can change a habit instantly.  When you learned to ride a bike you fell down a few times before you could balance.  The same is true for creating a new habit.  The relapses can teach you things.  What thoughts or feelings triggered your return to old habits?

       3.  You do have will power. Our will is a powerful part of us, capable of choosing to control our actions.  Say to yourself, “I will.”  And don’t say, “I won’t” or “I can’t” or “I’ll try.”  Be positive and be determined to succeed.

       4.  Align your will with God’s will; ask his help in overcoming your weaknesses. This is helpful in all circumstances but essential to breaking an addiction.

       5.  Take every thought captive. A habit starts with one thought and is maintained or broken by our thoughts.  For example, to break the worry habit stop every worry thought as soon as you notice it and replace it with a positive thought or image.

       I hope these ideas help you change your habits and accomplish your goals. I’ll write more on goal setting in a couple of weeks.

       “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

       Blessings, Dottie

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