The struggle with daily and numerous demands is a struggle that often turns us toward unhealthy coping mechanisms. In my walk with Jesus, I often simply pray, “Help me.” Grace pours in. I hear the words gently spoken, “Lean in. Just a bit closer.” One small adjustment in posture, and then there is peace, love, and empowering grace. This simple phrase repeated over and over can be a tool. A tool to allow us to live life to the full.
Routines are well-worn paths in our days. Sometimes they can be boring and tiresome, but other times they are grounding, familiar, and comfortable. Yesterday, while driving the exact same road I use five mornings a week, I was struck by how small my world is.Yesterday that thought was disturbing, anxiety-provoking, creating a restlessness deep in my soul that continued to bubble up all day long. Today, as I sit at my computer having some morning time with the same coffee cup as every morning, in the same brown leather chair, I find great comfort, gratitude, and a calm center. How fickle is our humanity!
Consider other routines . . . a glass of wine at dinner, a favorite show on Thursday night, Friday family movie night. Some routines become habits. Some habits are healthy; others are not.
Breaking Bad Habits
When you become aware of a routine or habit that you want to change, how do you do it? How does one steer away from an unhealthy and well-worn path? Whether it be a thought pattern that spirals into dark negativity, a glass of wine that turns into three, the same caustic argument over and over again with your partner or family member . . . How do we break free and stop the cycle short?
Awareness is the first step. One can ask, “What am I getting out of this habit? What is it I am seeking? Is there another way I can truly get that need met? Is there a more authentic conversation I can have with myself? Do I need to have a more vulnerable conversation with a significant other?”
Here’s an example:
A glass of red wine as a go-to for relaxation is not necessarily anything to worry about; but what if alcoholism runs in the family? Or what if it just gets to be too important? One could try some teas or scented oils instead.
Perhaps instead of a show every night, one could try some relaxing music. Just trying something new every once in a while can help steer clear of developing an unhealthy habit or coping mechanism.
A common negative thought could be identified as “I am stuck.” This thought, a well-worn path when feeling discomfort (physical or psychological) serves to validate a true feeling. But can there be a more accurate phrase to describe the feeling. Even just by changing it to “I feel stuck” morphs it into such a different tone – more flexible and malleable. Here’s a replacement thought you can use when you’re feeling stuck: “I have the ability to change and grow.”
Perhaps one can even find an activity that brings joy – coloring, walking, getting a massage – and while engaged in that activity, one can repeat the replacement thought over and over again. “I have the ability to grow and change” can turn into, “I am full of gratitude for my life, my job, my friends. Also, I would love to take a photography class.”
These are just a few examples of how we can change our thoughts into more truthful ones, how we can get to the bottom of a feeling and discover what it is we crave or truly need.
Sit down and write out a prayer. A longing. No censoring. Next, identify anything that keeps you from getting there. And if you feel you need some help getting past that obstacle, consider calling a Christian counselor today. You can live the life you want to live.
“Warming up,” courtesy of Alisa Anton, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tea,” courtesy of Morgan Sessions, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Candle,” courtesy of John Mark Kuznietsov, unsplash.com, CC0 License
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