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5 Steps to Breaking a Negative Habit

5 Steps to Breaking a Negative Habit


“That’s it! I’ve had enough!”

Do you hear yourself saying those words as you resolve to work on breaking a bad habit that has gotten a stronghold on your life? It could be as seemingly innocuous as biting your nails or checking your email too many times an hour (or minute!).

Or it could be something more worrisome, like eating patterns that threaten your health, emotional responses that threaten your relationships or shopping routines that threaten your financial security.

Whatever it is, you’ve come to the conclusion that these negative practices are enslaving you. You are ready to take control, determined to create positive and lasting change.

Now comes the hard part. How?

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, G‑d assures Moses that He will liberate the Jewish people from their Egyptian bondage.

“Say to the children of Israel: 'I am the L‑rd, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a G‑d to you, and you will know that I am the L‑rd your G‑d. . . . I will bring you to the land . . . ”

With these words, G‑d teaches us how to become a free nation. Moreover, we can use these steps to free ourselves from our personal enslavements.

1. I will bring you out.

Firstly, physically remove (“bring yourself out” and away from) the temptation. The chocolate bars or potato chips in your pantry are beckoning? Eliminate these unhealthy choices from your home! You’re checking your emails during quality time with loved ones? Turn off your phone!

2. I will save you.

Now that you’ve removed the negative temptation, fill the void with something positive (“save yourself” in a practical way). Feel an urge to munch on something unhealthy? Call a friend. Ready to lose your temper and lash out in anger? Listen to a Torah class or go for a walk to calm down.

3. I will redeem you.

You’ve taken proactive, practical steps to conquer your negative habits. Now it’s time to analyze how you got here in the first place. To eliminate the possibility of replacing one compulsion with another, you need to address its underlying cause (to “redeem yourself”). Was it boredom? Fear? Stress? Face the emotional issues that created this crutch.

4. I will take you to Me as a people.

After addressing your emotional landscape, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your spiritual welfare. The purpose of our redemption was to “take you to Me.” Strengthen your relationship with G‑d to ensure meaning, fulfillment and purpose.

5. I will bring you to the land.

After exerting all the necessary effort, know that true freedom (bringing you to the promised land of your goals) comes only from G‑d. Remember: G‑d controls every aspect of our world, and our power comes only from Him.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Eleanor Skibo Pennsylvania, USA January 12, 2018

Breaking a bad habit can actually be as hard as trying to remember the combination to your safe you had pushed under the bed for sometime. However, don’t fret help is always on the way when G d sends one of his angels to the rescue. Yes, you heard me, ‘I said, angels.’ And G d does send out messengers in desperate times of need and that includes breaking bad habits, especially when it involves issues of health. I’ve had human angels walk right in front of me and tell me, you’ll quit and I did quit some nasty habits. Even though I tried and tried till I almost gave up, but the main point is I didn’t give up. I continued to pray and ask G d if I’ll ever quit, and unexpectantly the time arrived and I became free from my nasty habit/s. Reply

Anonymous Akron January 7, 2018

Love this understanding of this passage. My oldest daughter counsels and works with drug and alcohol addicts. This guideline would and could be much more meaningful for her the ones helps. Thank you for the insight God has given you. Reply

M. Diane Flushing, NY February 6, 2017

Exodus 6:6–7 Every time I read these promises of our Creator, the strength the words carry, first I get goose bumps and then I cry. These words make me feel protected and loved by G-d and also by the person who reminds me of them. Imagine how the people felt when Moses relayed this message to them from their G-d. Reply

Anonymous February 6, 2017

It would be helpful to have scripture #. Reply

Anonymous London, UK January 29, 2017

Helpful Useful steps to remember even if we have heard some of it before. Reply

Patricia Arcadia via January 26, 2017

Very Nice. Reply

Bea Western NY January 25, 2017

This was fantastic! I never saw that connection before. This proves that the Lord only opens your eyes to His Wisdom when you have achieved the strength to use it. Thank you! Reply

M. Diane Flushing, NY January 25, 2017

Thank you for this article And G-d bless the special people who somehow very mysteriously help supply us with that intangible stuff: motivation and energy so we feel strong enough to make a strong start and withstand the attacks of temptation addiction presents. I'm getting ready to try again something i accomplished a few years ago. May G-d help me and thank G-d for the extra motivation to make it sort of Reply

Ashley Louisiana January 25, 2017

Wow, I read this just after I asked G-d to show how to get past my fears. I work with very song personalities but am in a position of influence. I want to learn and rise up according to His will. Get need to get past my own weaknesses. Reply

Jules Scher Monroe Twp, NJ January 23, 2017

Wonderful commentary.
Everyone should live their lives accordingly.
If you are addicted with a harmful habit, just do as outlined.
You should never fall victim to any obsession, but if you do, remember that you are the most important person in the world. Definitely to yourself, and hopefully to Hashem!!! Reply

jim dallas January 23, 2017

likewise! a liberating week to you as well, you and the whole of staff et al, you who help us in the desert find our way thru. who better than HaShem and mosche to be our guides with your help. again, thanks! Reply

K January 22, 2017

This is rather serendipitous. Four or five years ago when I came onto (or stumbled) crossroads I saw this message , the verses presumably from Exodus at another site , the first verse "I will bring you out"had the most impact on me and actualised at a circumstantial and physical level then. Now seeing the same message "I will take you to me as a people" has the most meaning to me. Though I don't know how it is going to transpire or what exactly it is going to mean in reality, I am now at a place where I will simply trust . Reply

S U.K January 22, 2017

Unhealthy As I sit, with my unhealthy sweets by the computer, this is the first email I open from ChaBaD.

A great lesson here - and it is not to stop opening emails whilst I have sweets!

Thank you, for demonstrating how Torah teaching can be applied to every negative aspect of living.

Not to forget the positive attributes one gains from following Torah teaching and to remind oneself of all the benefits from the loving kindness we receive each day from HaShem for all our efforts, these being both great and small.

Shalom Reply

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