Any significant change in our habits, patterns of behavior, ways of thinking, or lifestyle is tough. Our brain is wired to maintain the status quo, even if our behavior is terribly painful and destructive. Trying to do something different stirs up a screaming fit in our brain that is totally out of our control. That’s biology.
That really is true: we can’t do anything to stop our brain from screaming when we go against long-standing neurological pathways and attempt a new way of behavior. Sometimes there’s a physical component (such as nicotine addiction) on top of the behavior patterns. Yes, change is HARD!
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Doing something different will become easier and easier as new pathways are established in your brain. And there ARE some ways to help you be more successful in trying to change.
- Substitute instead of deprive. If you’re trying to quit smokeless tobacco, find something else to put in your mouth instead. If you’re fighting a bad attitude, choose some positive verbal statements to say out loud instead.
- Enlist some help. Telling your friends and family what you are trying to change and asking for their help will greatly increase your chance of success.
- Choose your “big enough” reason. There must to be something you want badly enough to go through the anxiety and discomfort of changing a long-standing behavior.
And that last point is the reason for this post. I had a friend who used to say, “When the desire to change exceeds the pain of changing, then you will change.”
What are those “big enough” reasons? It’s unique for each person. My husband quit smoking when we got married because he wanted to live long enough to enjoy life together. Here are some categories of “big enough” reasons: perhaps you can find yours in one of these areas.
- You’re sick and tired of the way things are. When you get angry enough at being broke, or sad, or sick, this can be enough motivation for some people. You cut up your credit cards because you’re determined to get out of debt. You drastically change your eating habits because you can’t stand one more day of being tired and overweight. Just disliking your current state of affairs is not enough: you have to get angry enough at the situation to make a serious change.
- You care about someone else. My husband’s son quit smokeless tobacco because he didn’t want his young son learning the habit from him. You may see how your bad attitude is hurting your children or spouse. You realize your lack of health is negatively impacting your marriage. You care enough about someone else to permanently change your behavior.
- You want a different future. Perhaps you watched a parent die of diabetes, or heart disease, and you don’t want to repeat that. Or you value your marriage enough to change the way you relate to your spouse and create a new relationship together. You realize your current behaviors will not give you the future you want, and you want a different future badly enough to change.
- Your heart is changed. I believe this is the biggest “big enough” reason of all. This is where God can make such a big difference. When He works a change in your heart you can become much more willing to endure the discomfort of change. He can supply the courage and wisdom to create a whole new lifestyle in whatever area you give Him control over.
Don’t say, “I can’t.” Find your “big enough” reason. Get angry enough at your current state of affairs to change. Give God permission to affect a heart change in you.
Your future awaits.
Your turn: What lifestyle change do you need to make? What’s your “big enough” reason? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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