What keeps us stuck in bad circumstances? Whether it’s a bad job, financial problems, addictions, unhealthy relationships, or maybe even something as minor as a bad attitude we can't seem to shake—when we’re in the midst of these problems, it can often seem like there’s nothing we can do to pull ourselves out of them. Have you ever felt powerless in the face of situations like these? And is there something we could be doing differently to change our lives, even when our circumstances seem unchangeable?
Allison Vesterfelt thinks so. In her latest article, The Real Reason You Feel Powerless to Change Your Life, she looks at five habits we need to quit in order to make change in our lives.
1. Saying “yes” when you mean “no.” Allison writes, “Any time we say yes when we really mean no—whether it’s to an addiction, an obligation, a function, a committee, a non-profit, an event, a good cause, or a bad habit—we give away a little bit of the power we have to shape the life we want.”
Are you saying yes when you should be saying no? Nicole Unice and Lysa TerKeurst have both shared great advice on how to say no without feeling guilty, and why it’s important that we know how and when to say no.
2. Giving into compulsions. “Compulsions are decisions we make without thinking,” Allison explains. “These are the things we know aren’t good for us—and if we stopped to think about them for a second, we wouldn’t do them—but we don’t stop to think about them, so we do them anyway.” When we give into these compulsions over and over, we’re sacrificing our power to change our situation.
3. Taking the easy way out. “Every time we take the easy way out,” Allison says, “we surrender to a reality we don’t ultimately want. The easy way out is never as easy as we want.” If there’s some unresolved tension or conflict in your life, it may be hard to work it out, but it’s worth it to resolve a problem and move forward in your life. Listen to the Spirit’s prodding—if there’s a tension God is asking you to work through, do the hard work of working through it.
4. Worrying about others more than yourself. Allison believes that thinking too much about what matters to others and not enough about our own wants, needs, thoughts and ideas can sacrifice an important part of ourselves. “There’s nothing wrong with caring for others. But if we care for others at the expense of caring for ourselves, we sacrifice the power we’ve been given to shape our lives and ourselves.” Of course, the pendulum can swing the other way—where we think too much of ourselves and not enough of others. Balance is key.
5. Living in fear rather than love. Fear steals our ability to love, Allison says. And that steals our ability to take control of our own circumstances. “Anytime we surrender to the notion that we have no power, we abandon the great power we have.”
Brett Wilson’s latest blog post illustrates this point perfectly. She’s been wrestling with the fact that while many of her peers are getting married and having children, her life has looked largely the same for the past several years. She’s felt restless and impatient—which she finally realized was a direct result of fear.
“I've been living as though if these things--marriage, children, wedding days, world-changing jobs, life-changing moments-- didn't in my life right now, today, last month even, that they would never happen.
It became a habit to drag, drop, cut and paste the items on the twenty-five year-old checklist I thought I should have accomplished by now. And it was making what should be a joyful season a complete struggle.
If I kept living this way, there would always be a reason to fear. There would always be a reason to be jealous of others. The more afraid I was that I'd never make it to where I think I should be, the more likely I was to make rash decisions.
The more likely I was to be...bitter.
Thankfully, there are people in my life willing to call me out. And to show me what it means to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. And staying in their own lane when it comes to their own life story.
They're showing me what it means to live without fear. Without bitterness. With hope for tomorrow and eyes to see the good transpiring in the here and now. Even if it seems like I'm waiting a little bit longer than everyone else to get started.”
So, is there something in your life that you think is unchangeable? A good place to start would be in prayer—asking God to give you His strength to tackle your problem or situation. Then, take steps of faith—start living in love rather than fear, and begin to do the hard work that may be necessary to make change in your life.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.