Thursday, July 14, 2011


 The reason a habit is so hard to kick is that it fills space. The mistake many people make when trying to get rid of a bad habit is that they simply try to get rid of it. But then there is a void where normally the habit made its home. And the longer standing the habit the harder it is to get rid of it. The body (or mind) goes into automatic pilot. We no longer have to decide what to do in a particular situation or moment. The body simply says, “Oh yes, it’s ten o’clock at night. Let us munch a bag of Value Time Cheesy Curls and stay up too late watching T.V.,” or, “the hammer just hit my thumb. What do I say in this instance? Oh yes, ‘#*@&!’”

At times habits can be simply dropped. Most often they are easier to drop if they are replaced by something else. Left with a vacuum the body will go back and do or crave what it was trained to do. St. Thomas said that the worst thing about sin is that the body remembers. So if we are trying to not surf the internet till all hours of the night, it might be wise to find something constructive to do in the evening. Do night prayer, play with the kids, take up jogging so not only will you be healthier you will be tired when you go to bed. Trying to get out of the habit of yelling at other drivers? Practice saying prayers for them.

Be patient with yourself too. If it took your body 30 years to learn something as a habit it will take more than one day's (or week’s) practice to learn a new and better habit. Make use of the sacrament of confession – it keeps you honest and gives you grace. Find a buddy to travel the road with you and encourage you. Have a plan when you decide to do away with something. Utilize prayer even on days you are not tempted to your bad habit as a way of gaining strength for when temptation hits. It also helps to be healthy as much as possible (this is God’s plan for you.) We are most vulnerable when we are angry, lonely, hungry, and tired. Rest. Eat well and moderately. (It’s always a good thing to be a tiny bit hungry and a tiny bit cold.) Learn to handle/channel (not suppress) your anger, and get out with your friends and loved ones.

Offer thanks for receiving and overcoming a temptation – offer the trial up! Take temptation and turn it into a grace that gives glory to God.

1 comment:

Margaret Comstock said...

Good suggestions, Father - but I really do want to push that button!