One of the biggest hurdles in breaking a habit is getting to the point where you’re willing to set boundaries with that habit.
After all, what if you have the perfect opportunity to practice your habit and you have to miss out on it because of some pesky old boundaries?
Let’s face it. We want to keep our options open.
So how do we change? How do we get to the point where we’re willing to say, “Alright, I’m going to set some boundaries here. I may not be able to keep them, but I’m at least going to try.”
One of the things I’ve found helpful is to make a chart that lists the advantages and disadvantages of keeping my options open. Here’s what a chart like that might look like:
Advantages of Keeping My Options Open
Disadvantages of Keeping My Options Open
|I get to do what I want when I want. (No boundaries to stop me.)||There are lots of negative consequences to doing what-I-want-when-I-want. And although I may get to control my choices, I don’t get to control the consequences of my choices.|
|I don’t have to use self-control.||The more often I say no to self-control, the more my habit will say, “All right. I’ll control you then.” And my habit does not have my best interest at heart.|
|I get a quick fix of excitement.||I get a lifetime of consequences: health issues, addictions, negative emotions (discouragement, self-condemnation, hopelessness, etc.), and missed opportunities because my habit is controlling me and taking up my time.|
|I can indulge my flesh.||It hurts my relationship with God because He tells me not to indulge my flesh (Galatians 5:13, 1 John 2:15-17.)|
|It’s a way to cope with life.||When I consistently go to my habit to cope with life, I’m in danger of making my habit an idol. When I go to God to cope with life, He strengthens me, comforts me, loves me, and matures me. I miss out on all that when I go to my habit.|
If you make a chart of your own, don’t worry about having an equal number of advantages and disadvantages – the only reason I did that is because I had all those little boxes in the chart to fill in and I thought I should fill them in! When I do my own charts in my journal I end up with 1-2 advantages of keeping my options open and 8-10 disadvantages.
Also, it’s a lot more effective if you make your own chart specific to your own life and habit. I tried to keep this one pretty general so it could work with all habits. If you have a hard time committing to boundaries, I hope you’ll give it a try.
Note: This exercise is from Day 6 in Taste for Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study. The kindle version of this workbook is available for free today on Amazon. While it’s specific to breaking the habit of overeating, it can be used for breaking any compulsive habit. I’m going through it right now for the second time to break my wasting time on the Internet habit. Oops – just realized it was scheduled to be free tomorrow (Tuesday) – not today! When I was checking to see if it was listed for free today, I found this dangerous link: Free Amazon Christian books. I downloaded 5 free books before I could pull myself away long enough to see if my own book was there!