Investigate and Make Changes
Have you started to dig into discovering a healthy identity? Did you come up with some identity-based goals and identity-healing truth from God’s Word? Have you found the right people to ask for help? Maybe you’ve realized that this isn’t so easy, and you’ve slipped up with your new habits—but you remembered to be kind to yourself. What’s the next letter of HABITS? Investigate and make changes.
What does investigating and making changes have to do with anything? Charles Duhigg, who wrote The Power of Habit, made famous the idea of the “habit loop.” The habit loop consists of cue, routine, and reward. If your habit is overeating before bed, the loop might go like this. Cue: You sit down with your spouse or friends to watch a show and you see a commercial with food. Routine: You go check the fridge and find something tasty. Reward: Your body releases positive chemicals as you eat the food and enjoy your company. The result is a self-perpetuating habit.
When we’re breaking an old habit or making a new one, we’ll likely run into some serious struggle along the way. Sometimes that struggle has to do with the habit loop. If you’re the person who’s breaking the habit of overeating before bed, you’ll want to make sure you’ve discovered what the cue really is. Maybe it’s not the food commercial, but just the act of watching a show, getting together with friends, or any other number of things that triggers you. You’ll also want to think about your routine. Do you just check the fridge because you’re bored, because it’s ritual, or because you’re truly hungry? The reward is vital. Is it the food or is it the act of sharing food with company that you enjoy? Maybe you’re just nervous when certain people are over, or maybe you eat and watch shows to avoid conversations you need to have with your spouse.
When we feel like we just can’t break out of the habit loop, let’s stop, investigate, and then make changes. Also, let’s wield the habit loop for making good habits as we develop positive cues, healthy routines, and the right rewards.
Here’s the thing about making or breaking the habit loop that most books won’t tell you: There is always a way. How do we know? In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the Apostle Paul tells us God is faithful—He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that we can endure it. So let’s investigate, make changes, rely on God, ask people for help, and keep taking the next step as He guides us forward.
Consider: What are my cues? How can I replace negative cues with positive ones? Where are my routines leading me? What are the rewards of my habit? Are they what God has for me?