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Seven Steps toward Breaking Destructive Patterns

  • Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Jan 17, 2011
Seven Steps toward Breaking Destructive Patterns

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jason Frenn's recent book, Power to Reinvent Yourself: How to Break Destructive Patterns in Your Life, (FaithWords, 2010).

If you've been dealing with destructive patterns that have been damaging your life for some time, you can start to lose hope that change is even possible for you. Whether you're struggling with an addiction that's harming your health, anxiety that's interfering with your relationships, or some other kind of ongoing problem, after a while it's easy just to settle for life the way it is. But no matter how deeply you've been drawn into destructive patterns, God is ready to help you out so you can move toward a better life. God can give you the power you need to reinvent yourself and start living the life He wants for you.

Here's how you can break destructive patterns in your life and change for the better:

Discover why you want to change.  You'll be motivated to change only when you clearly understand the reason why you want to change your life - and your reason is more important to you than any excuses you have for not changing.  The most common reasons why people decide to change their lives are: because they're afraid of losing something, because they want to reach a goal, because they've become disgusted by their own behavior, and because they want to grow to become healthier.  What's your reason?  Ask God to reveal it to you.

Change your perceptions.  Admit that the way you've been interpreting your life has been sabotaging your ability to break free of the destructive patterns that are holding you back.  Recognize your need for God's help, give Him full access to your heart and mind, and ask Him to begin the process of changing you.  Commit yourself to doing whatever God asks you to do during the change process.

Stop the cycle of generational dysfunction.  If you don't attend to the dysfunctional patterns that you've inherited from your family, you'll likely repeat them yourself.  So break the cycle before it can continue any longer.  Start by giving leadership of every part of your life to God.  Yield your own will to God's will for you, trusting God to lead you to what's best when you face daily decisions.  Deal wisely with temptations to sin.  Define in your mind which moral lines you will never cross before you actually encounter them, so you can build up resistance to those particular temptations.  Read and memorize Bible verses that you can remember to give you strength whenever you're faced with temptations.  Pray for the strength you need to resist any temptation that comes your way.  Whenever you interact with loved ones like family members and close friends, pay close attention to your words, feelings, and behavior.  Keep in mind that what you say, feel, and do has a significant impact on your loved ones - so ask God to help you interact with them in ways that honor Him and bless them.

Form godly habits.  Changing the way you think will change the way you live, so ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind daily.  Whenever you catch yourself thinking negative, unhealthy thoughts, replace them with thoughts that reflect biblical truth.  Spend plenty of time reading the Bible so you'll be able to absorb its truth into your soul and draw upon it in situations where you need to change unhealthy thoughts to healthy ones.  Participate in a church to join others regularly to worship, build friendships, and serve others together.  Spend time with God often in prayer so you can take on more of His character and develop more of His love for others.

Pursue forgiveness.  Don't let bitterness and anger accumulate in your soul; that will poison you spiritually and make you vulnerable to attacks from evil.  Instead, decide to obey God's command to forgive other people who have hurt or offended you as God has forgiven you of your own sins.  When you decide to forgive, despite your feelings, God will help you through the process, and over time, you'll discover that your feelings toward those who have wronged you will change.  Be sure to obey God's call to ask other people to forgive you for the sins you've committed against them, as well, and to honestly confess and repent of those sins before God.  Let God carry your burdens and give you power to move on to a healthier life.

Surround yourself with faithful friends.  Develop a group of close friends who want what's best for you, and commit to encouraging, supporting, and holding each other accountable as you all grow closer to God.  Talk with your friends often, being open and honest about what's going on in your life.  Give them permission to ask you regularly about your progress breaking free of destructive patterns and choosing a healthier life.  Pray for each other often.

Stay focused.  Remain focused on doing what God leads you to do each day to move beyond your past destructive life and build a new, healthier one.  Aim to fulfill God's purposes for you every day.  Don't become discouraged when your progress seems slow.  Continue to follow where God leads you, trusting that when you look back over a span of time, you'll be able to recognize and appreciate His steady and deep transforming work in your life.

Adapted from Power to Reinvent Yourself: How to Break Destructive Patterns in Your Life, copyright 2010 by Jason Frenn. Published by FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group, New York, NY, www.faithwords.com
Jason Frenn and his wife, Cindee, are missionary evangelists and conference speakers who travel throughout North and South America holding citywide crusades.  Together with their international team, they help people find freedom in Christ to become all God intends them to be.  Jason is also the author of Breaking the Barriers.  He and Cindee have three daughters.  You can visit their website at www.frenn.org.

Publication date: January 10, 2011