Overcoming Destructive Life Patterns

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    Feb 05, 2013
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Visual Therapy in action
Visual Therapy in action
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Overcoming Bad Habits

A habit is a pattern of life; a set way of going about a routine or a structured way of living.  Individuals develop habits in order to help make life run more smoothly and to be able to live day by day without having to think deeply at all times.  Habits create a sense of calm and safety in the midst of a troubled and hectic world.  Unfortunately, the same power that makes habits a positive force in a person’s life can also become a pathway to a life of bondage and destruction.  Bad habits are patterns of living that while offering up something good will in the end lead to ruin and disaster.  They are methods of addressing a felt need in a manner that provides a short-term solution which eventually will cause long-term pain.  How can we overcome such habits and lead lives free of the bondages that keep so many held in their power?

The first step in dealing with a bad habit is to identify it as such.  The only method for weakening a pattern of life that has a grip on a person’s life is to bring it into the light so that it can be exposed for what it is and so that steps can be taken to remove it from a person’s life.  There can be no change until the appropriate assessment is made and an honest appraisal is done.  This is the stage where denial must be harshly challenged and where truth must be lifted up at all costs.  The presence of at least one other party who can offer as unbiased a point of view as possible is necessary for the light of truth to push past the self-justification that keeps so many people in bondage to behaviors that they claim to despise.  Actions are always done for a reason, no matter how odd or flimsy that reason may seem, and until that justification is brought into the open it cannot be seen for what it is.  Bad habits are generally carried out under cover of darkness, in secret, or away from others because these patterns of life cause shame and shame drives people away from others.  The truth is that there can be no real help and no real healing without the presence of others in a person’s life.  The willingness to have the dark places exposed is the first step in removing them from a person’s life. 

The next step is to carefully and systematically put together a plan for seeing the bad habit removed from an individual’s pattern of life.  This is where the true need must be identified that is leading to the behavior.  Habits are responses to a felt need of some kind and merely attempting to remove the response without identifying its root cause could lead to disaster.  Many destructive patterns of life are developed as coping mechanisms in order to allow a person to lead some semblance of an ordinary life when faced with a trauma or crisis.  The earlier that such a life-changing event happens in a person’s life, the less likely that he or she may be to connect a bad pattern of life with its original cause.  Time, patience, and understanding are necessary to lead a person back to the root cause of a behavior.  In many cases, it may require working through some false beliefs until a true understanding of a situation comes to light.  It takes time for an individual to face the reality of past trauma and to come to the realization that dealing with the affects of such traumatic events is truly the only path to healing and wholeness.  Often rather than trying to stop the bad habit all-together, it is wise to put together a series of small goals than can be achieved over time.  In the process, this provides a person with the encouragement that change can happen and that success is achievable.  While the idea of stopping instantly seems simple, it can often lead to driving a person deeper into the same kind of behavior that he or she is seeking to avoid.  Healing must first take place before the habit can be safely removed. 

The process of overcoming a bad habit should never be attempted in isolation.  An individual must have others who can come alongside to provide assistance and encouragement along the way.  Mere will-power alone is capable of stemming a bad habit for a time, but eventually, in a time of weakness, will-power will fail and the bad pattern of life will return with a vengeance producing all the feelings of guilt and self-loathing that can lead to a dangerous spiral.  The Christian tradition has much to offer this process.  The idea of being part of a community of believers who all trust in a power greater than themselves is a wonderful place for a person to walk through the process of letting go of a destructive pattern of living.  The Bible’s instruction to bear the burdens of others is a beautiful picture of literally carrying a weak person until he or she is able to walk alone.  The belief that Jesus brought grace and truth is an important metaphor for assisting a person to overcome destructive habits.  By first affirming a person’s value as being individually created by a loving God, a platform is created for truth to be laid upon.  Each hard truth is buffered by statements of love and acceptance that keep a person from falling back into destructive patterns of living.  Self-loathing will rarely take place when a person has been affirmed and cared for first before any attempt is made to change his or her behaviors.  The Bible affirms that while individual’s lack the will-power to overcome bad habits alone, the power of God is available and God desires to be the answer to any problem that a person may face.  Such hope can be the necessary trigger to enable a person to be set free from bad habits that bring bondage and destruction. 

Bad habits can be overcome.  While these patterns of living may at times seem to have a hold that is impossible to remove, the truth is that a clear series of steps can lead a person from bondage to freedom.  By being willing to bring the destructive pattern into the light, to take the necessary series of steps from bondage to freedom, and by allowing a team of supporters to enter into the process, bad habits can be removed and new patterns of living entered into.  As these new, healthy patterns of living emerge, the old ways of living will become less and less of a temptation, until eventually they no longer have any hold on a person’s life.  Good habits are always the best solution to bad habits and the willingness to go through the necessary work to create new patterns of living will be the impetus to lead a healthy, whole, productive life.                

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Ken Grant enjoys writing articles for InterestingArticles.com. View the Ken Grant Author Profile

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