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 setting boundaries with my habit. You can make a simple advantage chart or an advanced chart.
Let’s begin with a simple advantage chart for developing the habit of eating within a certain set of boundaries (for the goal of losing or maintaining weight), then we’ll look at an example of a more advanced chart for having boundaries with a generic habit (for the goal of breaking or controlling the habit):
Simple Advantage Chart for Weight Loss or Maintenance
Advantages of Eating What-I-Want-When-I-Want
(AKA Advantages of NOT Having Boundaries)
Disadvantages of Eating What-I-Want-When-I-Want
((AKA Disadvantages of NOT Having Boundaries)
|I get to eat what I want when I want!!||I feel bloated|
|I’m always craving more (and I don’t actually like craving).|
|I gain weight.|
|I get discouraged because I try to lose weight and can’t do it (because I’m eating what I want when I want).|
|I feel hopeless.|
|It affects my health.|
|It often leads to a binge (and I don’t enjoy bingeing).|
|I’m not hungry at meals so I’m less inclined to make a healthy meal for my family.|
|It often leads to depression, because I’m a person who usually wants far more than is good for me!|
As you can see by the chart, there are LOTS of disadvantages – and really only one advantage! So even though that one advantage is often packaged in something that is incredibly yummy, it’s still not worth eating without boundaries because of the many consequences.
We don’t believe that at the gut level, though, until we renew our minds. And making a simple advantage chart is one way to renew our minds. Let’s see what a more advanced chart would look like.
Advanced Advantage Chart for Habits
For this next chart, I tried to line up the advantage of having no boundaries (on the left side of the chart) with a corresponding disadvantage of not having boundaries. In some ways, there’s just one advantage—you get to do your habit whenever you want. But for this advanced chart, I listed that one advantage in different ways.
Advantages of Keeping My Options Open
(AKA – Advantages of NOT Having Boundaries)
Disadvantages of Keeping My Options Open
(AKA – Disadvantages of NOT Having Boundaries)
|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 have a hard time committing to boundaries, I hope you’ll give it a try. When we see the consequences of not having (or following) boundaries and the benefits of following them, all of a sudden boundaries start to sound pretty good!
Note: This exercise is from Day 6 in Taste for Truth: A 30-Day Weight Loss Bible Study.
Say Goodbye to Emotional Eating is now available for pre-order and it will be out on November 1, 2022. In addition to 60 pages of content that will help you break free from emotional eating, it also includes 100 renewing exercises, including several different advantage charts!