Why Breaking Bad Habits and Creating New Ones Is So Difficult

So you come home from work one day and you notice a plate of cookies sitting on the table that weren’t there when you left this morning.

You begin to wonder, “Who made these cookies? What kind are they? How did they get here?” And then you decide to pick one up and eat one. But first, your head needed to go through the mental process of deciding that you were going to eat a cookie.

The next day you get home from work, put your stuff down, grab a cookie from that same plate, and shove it in your mouth. No thought process needed.

This is an example of a HABIT being formed (a bad habit nonetheless). If you’re working hard to create and maintain new healthy habits, I think you first need to understand why breaking some of these bad habits are pretty difficult.

You’ve had your unhealthy habits for a long time, so you’re comfortable with them.

If you’re overweight, chances are you didn’t get that way overnight. Little by the little, the scale slowly kept creeping up and got you to where you are today. This most likely came from an accumulation of ‘bad’ habits over time, and this was likely a long, slow decline with your health.

Some of your unhealthy habits may have been survival tactics for unmet emotional and spiritual needs that you experienced early in life. Other habits develop out of fear or developed to help soothe negative emotions such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, or feeling unloved.

You identify with your unhealthy habits.

You’ve probably heard people say things before like, “I’m always late” or “I’m a worrier” or “I never can say no to dessert”. This person stating these things is IDENTIFYING with their bad habits. We can confuse our identity with our habits, but it doesn’t have to be this way.


Because we have the power to change our habits. For example, you may HAVE a weakness, but you are not your weakness.

Why do you think ‘positive affirmations’ are so important? Because you’re speaking truth into your life. The same comes with identifying with your unhealthy habits, and therefore this makes them that much more difficult to break.

Your unhealthy habits have a payoff.

Ah, we all love the feeling of INSTANT gratification. For the most part, you probably still have some unhealthy habits in your life because they have some sort of instant pay off. What we don’t like to admit, however, is that those habits will probably cause us some pain in the long run, even if they seem rewarding immediately. And whatever gets ‘rewarded’, gets repeated. The delicious taste of junk food, the lounging on the couch instead of going to the gym, or the short-term high we get from a sugary treat gives us a sense of immediate gratification. We want to feel good NOW, not later!

Hebrews 11:25 states, “There is no pleasure in sin for a short time.” In other words, this is God warning us that instant gratification can be dangerous. In fact, there are many problems in our society today that are a direct result of our unwillingness to delay gratification. This can be overcome by seeing the greater payoff and rewards of making healthy choices down the road. If we were to instantly gain 50 pounds after eating one slice of chocolate cake, we may think twice before eating it.

You have an enemy who wants to discourage you.

You may as well just pull back the curtain right now and see who is directly behind these temptations and bad habits. Sure, you’re responsible for the choices and decisions you make, but the devil certainly doesn’t make this any easier on you. So not only do you have to fight against your natural instincts, but the devil is actively working against you every moment of your day.

Here’s a fun fact – Satan cannot hurt God directly. Therefore, he tries to hurt God’s children. Satan does not want you living a healthy life because THAT would be honoring God. Satan is a great deceiver and loves planting false truths inside our head like, “you will never succeed,” or “you’ve failed before so you will just fail at this again.”

Sound like you? With all these things working against us, it’s no wonder that most attempts by people to develop healthy habits end in failure.

Again, you need more than just good intentions and willpower to change. You need God’s plan for change.

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