How Bad Habits Enter Into Your Life

I’ve found myself wondering how I’ve picked up bad habits. From too much TV time to wasting time on Facebook to ignoring my wife. Bad habits creep into my life. And I’m sure they do yours as well.

When we recognize the bad habit, we often wonder how we let the bad habit into our life.

The Trinity Root at September 11 Memorial

Image by Tony Fischer

The Problem

Bad habits are something we don’t want to pick up. They’ll drag us down, holding us back from our potential.

And yet we let bad habits take hold in our lives. Most of the time we don’t even realize the habits are forming.

Why? Why does this happen?

We let bad habits take root because they slowly work their way into our lives. A recent sewer problem made this clear.

One day we noticed water on our basement floor near the drainage hole. I tried to plunge it and nothing happened. I dreaded losing the ability to use the bathroom or take a shower. Caving, a plumber was called.

When the plumber arrived, he assessed the situation and came to the conclusion there were roots growing in our sewer line. Upon further examination, he discovered there was a crack in our pipe system. This crack allowed the roots to creep into the line until they clogged the pipe.

Bad habits take hold exactly in the same way. We have weaknesses that can be easily accessed. The desire for too much entertainment. The need for a quick fix. The search for attention.

Every time we give into one of these weaknesses, we open up a crack and allow a little root to enter our lives. Eventually, our lives our filled with bad habits!

The Solution

Our plumbing problem had a solution. It was the plumber and his sewer snake (drain auger). The sewer snake is a tool that cuts up the invading roots and pulls the chopped roots out of the pipe. After this is done, the pipes drain freely.

Our lives will require us to take an auger to them once in awhile. As we begin to notice the bad habits taking hold, we will have to cut them out.

This may mean denying yourself that extra slice of cake, because you know it’ll lead to three more pieces today and more tomorrow (or at least that’s how it works for me). Maybe it’s avoiding your favorite restaurant where the cute waitress flirts with you. Whatever your weakness is, you need to be aware of it and begin the fight.

Sure, it’ll hurt as you’re cutting into the habits that have taken hold of your life. You’ll feel as if something is dying.

And you’ll be right in feeling the death of something. It’s the roots of bad habits that are trying to invade your life. You’re killing the bad habits by removing their source of life!

The choice is up to you. Will you let the roots take hold or will you clean them out before it’s too late?

Question: How do you deal with bad habits in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • This at first made me think of this post I wrote about breaking habits:

    But…that is reactionary, which is necessary sometimes when we find ourselves deep in a bad habit.

    Addressing the bad habit before it gels, though, is much better. Cutting out the roots is always the best way to avoid bad habits. 

    Imagine if you had known about the roots six months before they started causing problems? Would you have just ignored them or would you have done something about them? I would hope the latter 🙂

    This is something I am much more conscious of now. I ask myself, “What have I recently started/stopped doing that is causing problems?” I often find that I have started the path towards developing bad habits. There is no guilt or shame, just fixing.

    • Right Matt. If we’re able to notice the bad habits from the get-go they’re much easier to get rid of. Unfortunately, we let them take root deep into our lives before many of us take action.

  • I think in terms of “what would make me upset if I was told I could never do it again?” Often this is a sign on something I’ve given control to. Not all bad habits start as bad thing in themselves, but it is us placing that above anything else…like relationships with out spouse and kids.

    • Tom, you make a great point. Not everything starts out bad but can become bad if we let them control our lives. What ways do you have to prevent this from happening?

      • Nothing is as effective as getting accountability from other men. We were meant to do this in community!

  • Great illustration. When it comes to breaking a bad habit it reminds me about a Mark Batterson quote where he said ” Pray like it depends on God, but work like it depends on you.” It was not focusing on breaking a bad habit however can be applied. We have to pray and surrender if over to God while choosing to make the right choices in the face of temptations. Wonderful post Joe!

    • Great addition Dan. God’s work has to be completed within us and we have to hand it over to Him.

    • DS

      Great quote!

  • This is great and definitely an area I struggle with. I have worked through a lot of bad habits by focusing more on the good ones. For example: replace TV with reading books and so on. Life is too short to waste it on bad habits! 

    • Great example of how to uproot and replace the bad habits in your life Kimanzi. I’ve taken that strategy as well. Can’t say it was easy but it was worth it. What do you say?

  • Great post. This is exactly what I like to research and write about as well. The plumbing issue was a great way to make an example of habits and of course the tree. We have to be so careful what we let take root in our lives. If we don’t let God take root, something else will…

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Manturity. We do have to be careful. Things creep in so easily and quickly they’re often rooted before we notice. What do you do to stay vigilant in protecting against bad habits?

  • The same thing happened at our house about a year ago.  The landlord went one step further and had the offending trees cut down.  

    • Wow, that would be awesome. Unfortunately, in our situation, we own the property so it’s our mess to deal with.

  • It’s helpful to have a friend who can call me on a bad habit.  My wife generally does a great job with this, but it’s also helpful to have an accountability “partner” who will keep me in check.

    • That’s a great point Jon. Having those around us to call us out when we’re getting into bad habits can be a life saver!

  • DS

    Fantastic illustration Joe.  It takes “caving” sometimes, to admitting we need help, the painful removal of clogs, and the vigilance to keep it out long-term.  A great pick me up today!

  • It really takes being intentional. What I do is be more cognizant of what I am doing. For example, I love Flipboard. As soon as catch myself viewing news feeds that I already viewed, I switch gears and do something more productive. That could be paying bills, spending time with wife, or kids, or preparing for my next blog post. So first is recognizing that I am just wasting time, then look for something more productive. I guess that’s my formula in a nutshell.

    • Excellent Juan. Sounds like you’ve got a plan in place to prevent and/or deal with the bad habits!

  • The number 1 bad habit I’ve had to deal with is avoidance. There are so many good habits I’ve picked up but making it a regular habit to trust God to see me through the tough, growth-zone activities has been a lot harder.

    When I recognize that my time is not my own and that I’m here to serve, it helps a lot. Of course, being human, I don’t always think that way. But when I do, those growth-zone activities are a lot easier to handle.

    Reading Don’t Waste Your Life by Piper every few months is also a good way for me to reflect on how I’m living my life. It’s through Piper’s teaching that I’ve really been able to give up watching TV and focusing so much on being entertained.

    • Jeff, sounds like you’ve got a plan in place to help you realize when bad habits are taking root in your life. And it looks like you’ve given up some unhealthy habits. Great job!

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