What is the one thing in your life that is sabotaging your health, but you can’t let it go? You know, the one thing causing you multiple aggravations, but you hold onto it because the comfort or delight it brings outweighs the pain it causes. It may be a daily habit to help with stress, an emotion, a beverage, or even food.
A physical thing for me, is my morning coffee. I know it irritates my stomach and causes unnecessary gastroesophageal reflux, but I can’t seem to break the habit. I push the limits of my discomfort because I know if I remove all other acid producing substances from my diet, I can enjoy this dark comforting brew in the morning…in very small amounts.
An emotional thing for me, on the other hand, is my tendency to avoid people and situations I find difficult. Does that solve discomfort or my poor communication skills? It doesn’t. However, it does give me time to process my feelings toward the person, pray about why I feel the way I do, and ask for guidance.
The Advantage Of Identifying Your One Thing
There are so many advantages to identifying my one thing, or your one thing! But the most important is acknowledging… accepting or admitting the existence a truth… that may be damaging our mind or body. When we do, we can own it, admit it, and bring it out of darkness and into the light of conscience. We can then see it clearly for what it is and what it does.
I can’t help but think of king David, in 2 Samuel chapter 12, when he is confronted by the prophet Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba. He is guilty of getting her pregnant and hiding his sin by placing her husband on the front lines of battle to be killed. Nathan weaves a story about a rich man with many sheep stealing the one sheep owned by a poor man. Angry and disgusted, David says, “As the Lord lives, this man deserves to die.” Nathan says to David, “You are that man!”
Ah, his eyes are now open. He understands clearly what is buried deep in his soul that he cannot face… his sin. Acknowledging and confessing harmful behavior helps him seek healing from its hold over him. It is the same for you and me when we admit the existence of a harmful habit. The grip of dependency for the substance is slightly loosened. It may not be completely gone, but there is renewed power in appreciating the harm it causes.
More importantly, we stop making excuses for why we continue.
The Next Battle….Placing The One Thing In Its Proper Place
Now that you and I are acknowledging our one thing we can place it in its proper place below the power and authority of our Lord and Savior. The challenge here is wrestling with the pleasure center of the brain and the primary hormone feeding our pleasure center – dopamine.
According to a News in Health article from the NIH, pleasure habits are harder to break because our brain releases a little dopamine each time we do them. It helps explain why we continue to do something even when the long-term effects make us feel miserable. We become wired to crave the one thing we cannot resist.
For instance, I am a morning person. I’m naturally awake by 5 or 6 am and LOVE the quiet of mornings! There are no people to avoid either. The first thing I do is pray, then I get my favorite beverage brewing, so I can sit in a chair and study my bible. My morning habit and routine has been the same for the past fifteen years. I don’t need the caffeine to wake up, I like the flavor. I also like sipping while reading.
If I make it weak, and limit it to mornings only, I can keep the reflux at a minimum. Although not eliminated, overindulging in coffee is placed under control. At the same time, connecting with my Father in heaven every morning prepares my mind to love and communicate more effectively with the difficult people I’ll face that day (especially the one I see in the mirror!).
How To Strengthen Our Resolve
According to Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at the Florida State University, humans are much better at exercising different types of self-control, because they can picture the long-term reward and benefits of their self-control. It makes sense! Developing a plan to incorporate a new habit is one way you and I can replace the one thing causing us discomfort, sabotaging our health goals, or just making us more stressed and emotional.
The suggestion in the News in Health article is to picture yourself doing the actions successfully, over, and over. Mentally practicing the helpful behavior over harmful behavior is key! This is a very nice little trick if you and I are going to work, family gatherings, or parking our car at the grocery store and we foresee a potential encounter with a difficult person or situation. When we enter environments where poor choices are readily available, we are tempted to practice our usual routines.
Most importantly, you and I must never forget we have the most abundant power source for self-control than any other people group on the planet, the Holy Spirit. We can ask Jesus to change our desires.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.John 14:13-15 (ESV)
I realize changing “feel good” behaviors damaging our health is a real struggle. However, I believe identifying one thing and overcoming that one thing with the Lord’s help is priceless in overcoming it for good. I am with you, and I understand how hard it is! If you have difficult with changing the way you eat, I have an Intentional Eating series that may help. The Strength Approach to Christian Wellness is also a series I put together to help with behavior change.
Please remember, I am available if you need help with changing habits or want someone to talk to about them! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or here on my services page.
God bless you in your health journey!
National Institute of Health, News in Health, (January 2012). National Institutes of Health
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