The Bleak Side of Breaking Bad Habits

What happens after you break a bad habit?

It seems like you should get to enjoy your new-found freedom. I mean, imagine what life would look like without your bad habit. Wouldn't that be great?

But I've noticed something over the years:
Bad habits replace themselves
No sooner is one bad habit vanquished than another takes its place.

Adultery becomes porn.
Cussing becomes gossiping.
Greed becomes stinginess.
Bragging becomes judging.
Stealing becomes lying.

Habit X broken becomes Habit Y.

This reflects the reality of our hearts. When one enemy is vanquished, another takes its place. Always. Because the problem isn't with our habits. It's with our hearts.

As Michael Anderson says: "We aren't sinners because we sin. We sin because we're sinners."

And a second thought comes to mind on this theme:
Bad habits serve a purpose
We do all sorts of things as mechanisms to cope with the world, our relationships and ourselves. Some of those things get ingrained. Some of them are bad. Breaking them has consequences.

And the biggest consequences are relational. All around our lives, people have learned to live with us and love us bad habits and all. When we break those bad habits, sometimes people don't know how to respond. Just because they rejoice with you in your new-found freedom, don't assume they know what to do with the new you.

None of this is to say that you shouldn't break bad habits. Go for it. I am. But know that breaking bad habits is pretty complicated. Even if you manage to move into freedom, the story isn't over.

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