The Quicksand of Bad Habits

Bad habits and/or behaviors are often progressive in nature. When we choose to go down the wrong road rarely is it a decision made in the moment, but rather a series of decisions and/or compromises that have taken place.  Just like quicksand in the jungle, we step into it thinking it is just a mud hole that we can get through, but instead find ourselves sinking deeper; unable to work our way out.

To help us figure out how to get out of a poor habit or bad situation that we have got ourselves into we need to take a look at how we got there.  In today’s blog I want to focus in on how the process of choices gets us where we don’t want to be. As you read through this tailor it to your life and see how it might fit into your personal situation that you are struggling with. While this is not an absolute map that fits everyone there are similarities that we all follow when we find ourselves where we don’t want to be.


As humans we are often seduced into making wrong choices. There is something about going against the grain of doing what is right that creates an inward thrill or high. Think back to that first cigarette or sip of Mad Dog 20/20. It certainly wasn’t that smoking was really calming our nerves or the wonderful refreshing taste of MD 20/20 that lured us in. No, it was the fact that we were not supposed to be doing it; the excitement of being independent and doing what we wanted drove those kind of decisions in the beginning.


Rarely have I met anyone who has developed habits he or she wants to change that when they started intended for it to be a life-long thing. When the habit plane took off the thought was that one quick ride wouldn’t hurt anything. What would a quick sample really hurt, we say. No big deal, right? Sampling things that have the potential to be destructive is the most devastating step we make. The best way to avoid a bad habit is to never take the first step; that is the only real guarantee we won’t get hooked.


The things that hinder our lives are not something we like to advertise in the beginning. Who wants to tell everyone that they are sneaking chocolate in the middle of the night or are popping some kind of prescription drug to get through the day? None of us will post of Facebook our bad decisions so we keep them secrets hoping somehow we can shake them on our own. Keeping our challenges secret is a natural response, but is one of the worst things we could do. A cord is stronger when it is threaded with three cords than alone. There are some things in life we just can’t handle alone and when we try it we’re destined for failure. Remember, the secret never stays a secret; it only grows and the longer we wait to deal with it the more devasting the consequences will be.


There is a point that we realize this “thing” is a little more than a zit that has popped up on our face. It is a part of us and doesn’t seem to be going away like we had hoped. So instead of dealing with it we have a tendency to break away from our friends or especially those who might remind us that the path we are headed is not the best. We are starting to get comfortable with our new little friend and don’t want anyone telling us otherwise. Long time friends are now distanting themselves from us, or their lives are so different from the one we are leading that we don’t want anything to do with them. Things are changing and many times our friends changing are the first signs of this process.


Ever hear or said, “I don’t care who knows I ______!” You fill in the blank. I know I have. The new habit that we have been hiding is now a part of us and we are tired of hiding it. We get to the point that we don’t care anymore; we are tired of fighting and are ready to make it part of who we are. I have seen this with everything from someone with an addiction to drugs to a person having an affair. Some say it is a person crying out for help and sometimes that is true. At other times it is simply a person who is tired of fighting and has accepted defeat. Yet other times it is a person who loves their bad habit/lifestyle and does not want to change. He or she has made a consious decision to live the chosen life and are ready to pay the price for their own pleasure. 


With all bad habits there is a down side, thus the word “bad.” Never is there a positive outcome of something that is known to have negative outcomes. Even though we convince ourselves that we are different and can handle “it” or that things will turn out differently for us, it simply isn’t true. Our lives will spiral downward. The consequences of our habits or whatever it is we have involved ourselves with will begin to take us down. The process is not always, in fact rarely, sudden. The transition is much like being in the ocean and the tide slowly drifting us down the beach. We are having fun surfing and playing in the water of our habit, but then we look up and realize we are far from where we started.  We stop and ask, “How in the world did I get here? I am so far away from where I used to be!”


This is where the reality of what we have been trying to ignore comes to light. The person who overeats is on the gurney with a heart attack, the smoker is given the news of lung cancer or the person that has been involved in an affair loses their kids. It is the shock, detriment and overwhelming realization that these things don’t just happen to other people. The feeling of regret, guilt and wishing we could go back and change our choices take over us.  Our lives feel empty and helpless; the realization that we had the power to change what has happened hits us right between the eyes. It is a sad place to be; a place I have been and if you were to be honest, you have too.


Bad habits that harm our health, friendships, marriages and futures are rarely one event, but a process of decisions and choices. Of all the people I have coached and even in my own personal life, this process is generally the path that people follow before they wake up to the realization of their choices.

But there is good news. If you and I make these poor choices and have developed bad behaviors there is a way out. WE CAN CHANGE!  The way the story ends can be different;  it is up to us and within our control. It takes work and is not easy, I’ll be the first to admit. All things are possible if we just believe, have faith and are willing to get real.

Look for my next blog as I talk about making a fresh start!

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