Habitual sins create spiritual laxity and comfort zones that are very difficult to overcome. By taking on small sins one at a time, you can train yourself to overcome the bigger ones.
By Rayhan al-Safawi
In the world of spiritual development, the greatest struggle is the battle against the old and habituated self. Our old and persistent habits – namely those that are sinful – keep us from the transformation that we need in our mission to reach closeness with God. When sins become too familiar, there is a heavy laziness that accompanies it which makes it very difficult to overcome. This is because we become too comfortable with our habitual way of life thus making change too difficult of a task.
Habitual sin creates spiritual laziness. To overcome this is a great task, perhaps the most difficult in our journey to God. The first step in trying to overcome sinful habits is to pray to God to help us. It is only through His grace and mercy that transformation can be made possible.
Second, try to change your mindset. Write down on a piece of paper where you feel your sins will lead you to in five years. Will they make you a happier, calmer and more peaceful person? Obviously not. Then try to write down how you would be like five years from now (your spiritual level) if you were to cease these sins, would you be in better shape? Would you be happier? Would overcoming these sins become easier? A proper perspective into the future is always an encouraging cognitive state to be in.
Third, sinful habits cannot be overcome suddenly, at least for most people. Try changing small sins first, and make a habit of abstaining from them. In this stage, try changing the easiest ones first. Once you successfully overcome one sin for a month, try taking out another sin in your list and make a habit of avoiding it for a month. This kind of practice will – overtime – strengthen your will power to take on the more difficult sins and thus lead you to the spiritual results you seek.
Rayhan al-Safawi is a blogger at the World Shia Forum. He lives with his family in the West Coast, United States.