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October 14, 2022

3 Mindset Shifts to Overcome Your Bad Habits

By Craig Groeschel

Small habits make a big difference.

That’s great if you have great habits, but not so much if you don’t.

Why do you have the habits you have? And why is it so difficult to break bad habits?

Behaviors and habits never exist in a vacuum. There’s a reason you do what you do.

Below, I outline three major reasons your bad habits are so hard to break, and three mindset shifts you can make to break them. The first two are things you can change today, but the third might take a bit more time and focus from you.

At the end of the post, I also link to a few resources that have helped me build better habits.

1. You define yourself by what you think others see.

We tend to define ourselves by what we believe the influential people in our lives think about us.

Psychologists call it the “looking-glass self.” We see ourselves through the eyes of others. We let those people define us, but that is not who we are.

Remember, you are not the negative things your parent, coach, teacher, grandparent, or the bully at school said you were or made you feel like.

2. You don’t believe you’re the type of person who can stop bad habits.

Psychologists and other social scientists have repeatedly confirmed that you do what you do because of what you think of you.

James March, a professor at Stanford University, calls this the “identity model of decision-making.”

Research shows that, when making a choice, we essentially (and subconsciously) ask ourselves three questions:

  1. “Who am I?”
  2. “What kind of situation is this?”
  3. “What would someone like me do in this situation?”

Your self-identity is a primary reason you approach decisions the way you do. So if you’re making bad decisions, you may need to reevaluate how you view yourself.

Why does your friend keep going from loser boyfriend to loser boyfriend? Ask her. She’ll tell you she doesn’t want to. It’s just who she is. She has always been that way. She wants a guy but always seems to attract the wrong ones.

Why does your other friend always struggle with money? Ask him. He will explain he’s just not good with money. He doesn’t want to, but he has always spent too much, always been in debt. It’s just who he is.

No. That’s not the truth about your friends. But those false beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies if they continue to believe them.

False beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies if you continue to believe them.

3. You’re believing the enemy’s lies about you.

No matter what faith you align with, you probably agree that there is evil in this world.

As a Christian, I firmly believe Satan is real and is the source of that evil. He is trying to take you out of your calling. (I talk about this more here.)

The weapon he uses against you is deception and his primary target is your identity. He knows how essential your self-perception is, so he lies to you about who you are.

That’s why:

  • After you yell at your kids, you might think, I’m a bad parent.
  • When you don’t get the job, you think, I’m pathetic. I never get any breaks.
  • When you realize you didn’t read your Bible or pray again this week, you think, I’m a bad Christian.

Your spiritual enemy takes every opportunity to repeatedly lie to you about who you are. He says:

  • You are a spiritual failure.
  • You will never amount to anything.
  • You don’t have what it takes.
  • You can never be healthy.
  • You can never be pure.
  • You can never have a good marriage.
  • You can never be financially free.
  • You are worthless.
  • You will never change.

On the other hand, God defines your true you. So who does God say you are?

You are:

That is who God says you are. You may fear you have screwed up everything, but the depth of your sin is not greater than God’s power to forgive. Your bad decisions are not greater than God’s power to redeem and restore.

When you surrender your life to Jesus and become a child of God, you don’t just become a better version of yourself.

You become new

Now that you understand more about what goes into some of your bad habits, let’s look at how to break free from the bad ones …

Start with Who

To build better habits, start with building a healthier view of yourself through these three mindset shifts:

  1. Remember that you are not the negative things your parent, coach, teacher, or a bully said you are.
  2. Believe that you’re the kind of strong, flexible person who is consistently and intentionally improving.
  3. Remember that you are new in Christ, and you’re exactly who God, not your enemy, says you are.

Now that you’re making these shifts, focus on setting goals around “who” you want to become, rather than “what” you want to do. I’ve recorded a full 30-minute teaching on how to do this. Watch it here.

I also have a book called The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Inside I will help you choose what you want most over what you want now.

You can find out more and get your copy here.

On top of that training, there’s a long list of books that have helped me build great habits and achieve my goals. I outline 13 of my favorites here.

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