5 Questions That Will Help You Break Your Habit

5 Questions That Will Help You Break Your HabitDo you ever feel like you want to break your habit, but you just can’t convince yourself that you need to break your habit?

That’s the way I am with wasting time on the Internet. Since it’s not a sin and it’s not frowned on by our culture, I have a hard time saying, “Enough, Barb, time to get serious about breaking that habit.”

Instead I have this vague idea in the back of my head that I should break the habit, but when it comes right down to it, in that moment of temptation, I revert to. “Just this once,” or “Is it really that big of a deal? No.”

Then I go my merry way, wasting time on the Internet again. What I’ve realized after more than a year of failure in breaking this habit is that non-sin habits that aren’t frowned on by society are tough habits to break.

So I wrote a set of questions especially for those habits. If you struggle to break your habit, whether the habit itself is a sin or not, see if these questions help. They are really convicting me. I’ll show you how I answered them below each question.

 5 Questions to Help You Break Your Habit

1. Why do you feel like it’s not a big deal if you break your boundaries

I think the main reason I don’t think it’s a big deal is because society isn’t making it a big deal. With eating, there’s that social pressure to be skinny. There’s no social pressure to limit time on the Internet. 

2. If you break your boundaries right now, will you be more inclined to break them later? Why or why not?

Yes, definitely. Because I’m setting a standard of saying, “I really don’t need to follow these Internet boundaries. It’s not a big deal if I break them.” When in reality, if it’s not an absolute boundary, it’s not a boundary.

3. How does this habit affect the following?

a. Your relationship with God

It hurts my relationship with God because it’s a coping technique. Rather than going to God for strength, for perspective, for comfort, and for wisdom when I’m having a problem with writing, I go to the Internet to escape my problem. When I do that consistently, it’s turning the Internet into an idol.

b. Your relationship with others

It hurts my relationship with others because it sucks up too much time. Plus I’m not as motivated to call a friend if I have a readily available form of entertainment.

c. Your maturity as a Christian

It definitely hurts my maturity because I’m not going to God for help with my trials. The more I go to Him for help, the more He controls me, and the more I’ll exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. The Internet isn’t going to take away my writing problems or my negative emotions. It’s like the golden calf as far as it’s ability to help me goes.

d. Your job and/or ministry

I won’t be able to get as much writing done if I’m constantly wasting time on the Internet. Or even if I’m not wasting time, but just using it inefficiently–checking emails once an hour rather than twice a day for example. So yes, I would say it hurts my ministry. Not to mention the fact that it keeps me out of fellowship with God which also hurts my writing.

e. Your health

It hurts my physical health just a little bit as I don’t move around so much. But it hurts my emotional health even more as I’m not dealing with those negative emotions. I’m just numbing them.

4. If you want to break this habit, will you eventually have to make the sacrifice to follow your boundaries all the time?

Yes. There is no way I’ll ever break it if I keep blowing off my boundaries. 

 5. If so, what would be the advantage of following them today?

By this time I’m already convinced that I’m crazy to be breaking my boundaries, that of course I want to follow my boundaries, that of course I don’t want to waste time on the Internet, so of course, the sooner I start the better – which would be today.

Note: Here is a really funny thing. I just finished typing that last sentence and I heard that little “ping” that signals that I just received an email. My mind said, “Oh, I should check that email,” but then I said, “No, I can’t check that email. I have boundaries. I’ll have to wait.” Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Discussion: Do you have any good tips for breaking habits?


  1. Kathi M. says

    Love this, Barb. So timely for me. I will save this to deal with in more depth as soon as I am done with pressing things I have to take care of that keeps me at this desk a good part of the time. A lot of this has been on my heart for awhile. Altho’ I do not have a ping thing on email I do on FB and curiosity often gets the best of me. I have been better about ignoring it. So, I had to laugh. Thanks again! Kathi~

  2. says

    Asking these sorts of questions really does help a person take thoughts captive. For me, when I think about what I don’t want, I find motivation to break a bad habit. For example, sugar does not have a good effect on me. I get major brain fog. So, when I think about having something sugary, I just remember how the brain fog felt and use that as motivation to grab something healthier. Not perfect at this, but it works the majority of the time for me.

    • says

      That’s a great idea, Kari – focusing on the consequences of doing the habit. I’m thinking of Satan and Eve – one of the things he did was to get her to ignore the consequences. It’s so easy to do. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. says

    Timely post. I checked my email late last night after dinner and the business scenario that I’m involved in destroyed the time with my wife and family. No more! I’ll check them during business hours! We are hard headed, aren’t we? Thanks for the thoughtful and pointed post. Well done and very helpful.

    • says

      That’s a great point, Floyd, that I didn’t think of. That’s exactly what happens, though, isn’t it? If the news is bad or discouraging, we can dwell on it the rest of the day or night. I’m trying to also set a boundary of not thinking of writing unless I’m actually writing or unless I’ve given myself permission to think of it.

  4. says

    I love the way you get right to the heart of things. I struggled for years with computer games. Talk about time going down the drain. But you’re right, it was a coping mechanism during a difficult time. When I purchased my new laptop a little over a year ago, I made up my mind not to add any games. It forced the change I needed. Now, I want to start the habit of greater activity. Time to quit the excuses and get moving. Thanks for always helping me to look at the heart of my issues.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting, Deb. That’s a great idea to just not put any games on the new computer. I’m also working on the habit of greater activity. I can’t remember, was it you I was sharing about FitBit with? That little device is really helping me exercise! My goal is 10,000 steps a day and it shows me just how little I was exercising before.

  5. says

    God really does have a sense of humor. Last week my husband did something dumb, innocent and funny. As I chuckled to myself I asked God, “Do you think this is funny too?” And I felt like God said, “yes, that is funny”.

    Great questions. #3 is really good!

    • says

      #3 was really convicting to me, TC – have to keep going back over these. I really want to develop strict boundaries in this area of my life. Need to keep renewing my mind if I want that to happen!

  6. says

    These are really good questions Barb, I love 3a – in the ‘ouch’ sort of way ! I have tried to limit internet time in order to write but i still find myself wandering mindlessly when i need a ‘brain break’. I think for me, I need to listen to God when he taps me to take a real break – physically leave the computer and do something else. sometimes i feel like that’s a waste of time considering that i can get a get a quicker mind break checking out internet and then dive back to writing. well, quicker is not healthier – internet is not even a real mind break! :)

    • says

      Yes, that’s an ouch for me, too. I think physically leaving the computer would also be good for me when I need a break. I never thought of the internet as not being a real mind break, but I think you’re right. It really isn’t.

  7. says

    These are great questions Barb! I’ve been working on developing my writing habit. I’m trying to write every morning from 6:15 until 7:00am. I have been doing it for a week straight and then suddenly I fell off the horse. I think these questions will help me to get back on again.

  8. says

    Really excellent stuff. So glad you chose wasting time on the internet as the habit as it affects writing. I definitely do that. It helps me a lot to use a timer for breaks to do whatever I want online.

    • says

      That’s a great idea, Melanie – I always use timers for work, but I don’t know that I ever use timers for the Internet, but that could be very helpful. Will have to try it!

    • says

      Thanks for bringing this up, Loren. I appreciate being questioned if someone thinks I’m wrong. When I wrote the post, I thought about writing, “even though wasting time on the Internet isn’t a sin in and of itself” and probably should have written it that way.

      What I meant is that it’s not specifically mentioned as a sin in the Bible, like for example, stealing or lying. So if it’s not listed as a sin, I agree with your post that you referenced: it’s a heart issue. And I also agree that it can definitely be a sin, as it was in my case – I came to the point of seeing that when I renewed my mind with the questions, which you can see in the example.

      What I’m not sure of, but what I’ll be sure to think about, is at what point it becomes sin. Definitely if it’s an idol, definitely if I habitually waste time rather than going to God for help, definitely if it’s because I’m lusting after the easy life or recreation.

      But what if I’m just wasting ten minutes here and there or even an hour in the context of a life where I use time well? In that case, I personally don’t think it would be a sin, although I might be wrong. I don’t feel like God is that much of a micro-manager that we have to account for every single minute – but that He looks more at the heart. What is my life characterized by? And in my current state, I would say that in general, wasting time falls in the sin category for me.

      At any rate, it’s very good to think about and I appreciate you bringing it up. I’ve read your blog posts on that before and wondered about that whole issue. I feel like I’d need more Scripture references to believe that wasting 10 minutes is a sin. But I definitely agree with you as far as the whole overall principle goes.

    • says

      Thanks, Dan. I agree, although that concept has been completely foreign to me in the past. I live in the land of recreation where having fun tends to be a big focus. I’m learning to work and be a good steward, but I still have a long ways to go!

  9. says

    Hmm, good post Barb. When I attempt to break a habit, I think of – and then quote – Daniel 1:8, which says, “Daniel resolved no to defile himself the kings food…”
    There are a lot of subtle things – even good things – that can defile. Great post!

  10. Betty Draper says

    My daughter replace a habit recently of not getting on fb or emails till she has done her devotions. I actually liked that and have adopted it also. The older I get the more I realize the less time I have on this earth and the more I want to use it to know the Savior better. God has blessed me in that He is using me in the lives of some younger women just needed someone to listen to them and if the opportunity arises I can share some of what I have learned. Good habits pay off…even just one little one helps. Good post Barb…

    • says

      Thanks, Betty – that’s a great habit for your daughter to start. And that’s great that you have an opportunity to help younger women. I’m sure they appreciate it.

  11. says

    Excellent questions Barb. I broke the habit of watching sports hour after hour by turning off the TV at a certain time and use that time to write and read. It has made my evenings more productive.

      • says

        My blog post were on pause. None of my blogs for January went out until today. I am glad Floyd brought it to my attention. I am pushing the 2nd book back because I am working on relaunching my first book and making some editing changes to it. I am cutting back on some things I was doing and refocusing my vision. I had to take a break and big step back and recalibrate. Thanks for your concern.

        • says

          That sounds good, Bernard. I’m also working on updating my first book which I wrote 5 1/2 years ago. I’m finally out of books so I had to do something. Decided to switch to CreateSpace so I have to redo the file and thought I might as well do a bit of editing. Glad your blog posts are going out again. Those techy problems!

            • says

              I purchased 10 ISBN’s back in 2008 when I published my first book and I am still using those. Back then I think it was the only option – at least I hadn’t heard of POD at the time. The advantage is that you can use your own label. The disadvantage is that you aren’t listed with the library of congress, or something like that. You can find the info on the createspace site. I didn’t use a different isbn with my kindle than I did with the paperback version of each book – i think that would have been a waste of an isbn number. I’ve been happy with CreateSpace so far.

    • says

      That’s odd – I just went to your blog and realized you have been posting – I must just not be getting them in my inbox for some reason. That’s good – I was getting worried about you for nothing!

    • says

      Hi Melanie, sorry it took so long to reply. I just got back from 9 days of backpacking and camping with my family in the Grand Canyon and Zion. The writing is going okay. I had to take a time out to re-publish Freedom from Emotional Eating as I had run out of books and being the non-brilliant (I’m trying to be polite and not say dumb) perfectionist that I am, I decided I needed to edit it first. That took me much longer than I thought. Looking forward now to having the time to work on some other projects! How is your curriculum writing going?

      • says

        Hey, Barb, what a wonderful trip you’ve had! We’d like to do that soon. I have other commitments besides the curriculum, but I’m raring to go on it this summer. I just changed the name of it with my kids’ help, so I’m excited.

        • says

          That’s great! I still remember brainstorming names for the Taste of Truth chapters with my kids on a hike in southern Utah a few years ago. I think coming up with a name for the book is one of the hardest things.

Thanks for your comment!