Harmful habits, compulsions, and addictions are issues which strike us all. If we haven’t yet been affected by one of these conditions, we likely will be in the future.
Unless we do something about it first, by re-learning how to live.
Why is that necessary? Unrecognized by most people, there are “emotional germs” which can infect our minds and make our lives miserable. These deep-seeded issues appear as traits such as pride, resentment, worry, and insecurity.
Unchecked, they lead to more serious conditions including control, anger, workaholism, codependency, and substance abuse.
“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” (Steve Maraboli)
A vaccine for addiction
We can vaccinate ourselves against these emotional germs and build a better future by finding why we should change, knowing what to do, and re-learning how to live.
This is how our lives, and those of people around us, can be changed for the better.
Re-learning how to live is accomplished by following the process described in the book STEPS: A Daily Journey to a Better Life. Practicing these positive ways of living will immunize us against possible issues we may face and help us live more effectively.
Here is how the five STEPS vaccinate us against ten of the most common issues:
Surrender your will to God and make choices based on faith and courage.
- Entitlement is the feeling that we deserve to be given something as a special privilege.
- Worry is also self-directed, taking our focus off of God and putting it on ourselves.
You can vaccinate against entitlement and worry by accepting God’s role in your life:
- To prevent a feeling of entitlement, silently surrender your will to God each time you make a decision during the day rather than doing everything for “you.”
- To worry less, make choices based on faith rather than compulsively over-thinking them. Then, let those decisions go by trusting God to be in control of the outcome.
Humbly admit your mistakes and make positive changes in your life.
- Pride clouds how we view the world around us and the people we deal with, leading us to think we are always right and others are wrong.
- Lack of self-awareness comes from inexperience with getting in touch with our thoughts and feelings, which makes it much harder to improve our lives.
You can vaccinate against pride and lack of self-awareness by living honestly and intentionally:
- To avoid being consumed by pride, practice humbly admitting your mistakes. Start with small ones and work yourself up to those that really matter.
- To counter a lack of self-awareness, think about why you do what you do, and select at least one positive change to make in your life each day.
Seek forgiveness and invest in good relationships.
- Resentment will sour our relationships, often hurting those who are closest to us the most.
- Isolation, which we use to shield us from the hurts in the world, often makes our problems and relationships worse rather than better.
You can vaccinate against resentment and isolation by learning to accept yourself and others:
- To lessen the grip of resentment, practice forgiving others, right away and no matter what they do, and tell people you are sorry when you make a mistake.
- To overcome a sense of isolation, invest some time each day in a few good relationships by initiating a conversation or sending a friendly email.
Spend time every day in prayer and mediation.
- Impulsivity is okay in some situations, but we also need the discipline to make thoughtful choices rather that continuing to make rash decisions.
- An inability to handle stress, left unchecked, will rob the peace and joy out of our days.
You can vaccinate against impulsivity and stress by implementing good daily habits:
- To balance an excess of impulsivity, pause before you act to think and consider the options.
- To help you deal with stress, spend some time each day alone in prayer and meditation.
Serve as an example and add value to the lives of others.
- Insecurity is inside all of us to some degree, lessening the positive impact we have on others.
- Depression changes good days into bad ones, consuming energy which could have been put into more productive activities.
You can vaccinate against insecurity and depression by finding significance in serving others:
- To deal with insecurity, practice becoming comfortable with who you are. You were designed by God, so be yourself. By so doing, you can become an example for others.
- To counter depression or a lack of purpose, focus on doing things each day to add value to the lives of others.
The immunization process
Amazingly, the same process that will immunize us against compulsive behaviors and bad habits will also help us live more effectively today.
This vaccination is a new way of living in which we learn to focus on:
- The Why – Developing self-awareness and motivation to change.
- The What – Living intentionally and establishing positive habits.
- The How – Taking the next right step, and continuing one step at a time.
And we can go through this transformation at a deeper spiritual level by remembering what God cares most about during this process:
- The Why – The motives of our heart, and why we do what we do.
- The What – If we make good choices and act as wise stewards of our life.
- The How – Whether or not we live each day with a focus on him or on us.
God is especially concerned when we allow our issues to become idols, when we turn to something else to help us deal with our problems rather than bringing them to him.
Because that is God’s job. And it concerns him when we have such little faith in him that we allow alcohol, or work, or people-pleasing, or control to take his place.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
This blog series has now shown us how we can vaccinate ourselves against harmful habits, compulsions, and addictions. This will help us avoid issues or lessen their impact, and we do this by finding why we should change, knowing what to do, and re-learning how to live.
And we can literally re-learn how to live by implementing the STEPS on a daily basis.
Just think what the world would be like if we would all take those steps.
Question: What is keeping you from re-learning how to live in a more effective way?