What happens if I turn back to a habit I've been trying to break?

We have talked a lot about how to break habits that have been annoying or bothering us in our daily lives. Now, let's say that you have done an outstanding job of breaking a habit. You are exhausted and anxious, but you did it! Then....life happens.

What does that mean? You get stressed. You hear bad news. You are simply having a tough day and the last thing you want to do is continue fighting your battles. The 'easy' option is to fall back into the habit that was routine, that brought you comfort. This could be anything from using substances, to eating too much/too little, to neglecting to do your work, to isolating yourself, to not taking care of yourself or others, etc.

But then deep inside, you KNOW that this is not what you want. You don't want to go 'back' into using the habit that - although was momentarily helpful - brought you long-term pain, distress, and consequences. But right now, you are tired and every inch of you can't fight. You simply don't have the strength or peace of mind to challenge yourself. And before you know it, you have 'went back' into your old habit (that you tried so hard to break before).

Image result for you have shoes in your feetWhat now? You might feel relieved short-term, but after a while, you will be angry at yourself. You might feel guilty, or blame yourself for 'giving up' or 'messing up'. You might even think that you 'broke your record or streak' and that you are a failure. You might feel hopeless that you will never change.

Well, I'm here to tell you that these thoughts are NOT TRUE! We all have moments when we are tired of fighting, when things are 'too much'. And during these times, the last thing you need is to be telling yourself negative statements about your worth or ability to succeed. Instead, although this is extremely hard in the moment - you ought to practice compassion for yourself.

Yes, you might not be able to pat yourself on the back for going back to your 'bad' habits. But you CAN acknowledge that today was a tough day. And you were stressed, so you inevitably went back to your old ways of doing things. BUT this does not mean you are a failure. It doesn't mean you need to 'start all over', nor does it mean you are weak. Instead, take it as a chance to learn something and grow. What triggered you? What were you thinking or feeling at that time? Instead of using an old habit to cope, what could you have done instead? How can you make a 'safety plan' for the future to avoid this from happening again?

Image result for you can learn new habitsRemember this in times of 'relapses' or 'slips'. You are not defined by these moments. You are defined by your strength, your worth, and your uniqueness. One tough moment, or one break into your old ways of coping, is not a sign that you 'need to start all over again'. It is a lesson to be learned. It is an opportunity for growth. Learn, and move on. Continue to look into the future, and keep making progress. It is in these times when you will truly learn your strength. You can destroy what destroys you. You can do hard things. You can learn new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. You are not your habits or thoughts. You are YOU, and I believe in YOU.

'No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it'. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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