Learning to Stop Sinning

… with thanks to the dogs who taught me so much while I was pretending to train them…

Hint: This works for training dogs too.

In my case, as I’ve written elsewhere, the sin I am working to overcome is self-hate.

Here’s the process:

  1. Identify triggers.
  2. Give yourself a substitute behavior for the unwanted sinful behavior.
  3. Practice the substitute behavior separately
    • repetitions do matter when changing a bad habit
    • do a LOT of repetitions of the new behavior
  4. Every time the trigger occurs, substitute the new behavior for the sinful behavior
  5. When Step #4 is SOLID without fail, start gradually decreasing the substitute behavior
  6. EVERY time you experience a set-back, go back to step #3

PS, this works with dogs too. Honest.

So in my case, I identified a common trigger: Dropping something on the floor.

I don’t know WHY that is a common trigger for me (can worry about that later) but it is.


  1. I dropped a spoon on the floor while doing the dishes. I FELT my mind starting to launch into that hateful self-talk. So I identified “dropping an object” as a trigger.
  2. I gave myself a substitute behavior.
    • Instead of, “You stupid clumsy idiot” (the sinful self-talk) I substituted:
    • “Oh look. I dropped a (whatever).”
  3. I practiced the substitute self-talk a LOT.
    • I’d do sets of 10 reps, using an actual spoon:
      • holding the spoon, I’d deliberately drop it to the floor
      • as it hit the floor, I’d think or say to myself, “Oh look, I dropped a spoon.”
      • Repeat that 10x in a row, one right after the other
      • Repeat the set of 10 at least 5 or 6x per day, every day
    • It is repetitious, boring & feels really ridiculous. You’ll start to hate doing all those reps. That’s the whole point.
  4. The next time I (fortuitously!) dropped something on the floor,
    • OBSERVE where my mind goes.
    • When it starts automatically going to the substitute behavior (“Oh, look…”) rather than to the sinful one (“You stupid idiot…”)
      1. Celebrate my success
      2. Thank God
      3. GRADUALLY start decreasing the separate sets of “training reps”
  5. If still successful 100% of the time after eliminating training rep sets,
    • Gradually reduce, “Oh look. I dropped a (whatever)” to just
      • “Oh look.” and then just to
      • “Oh.” or “Oops.” and eventually to
      • [no self talk at all; just pick it up]
  6. If there is EVER a set-back, go back to Step #3.

Separately, you can seek to try to understand WHY you sin in this way. This might be a longer project sometimes. Things that might help:

  • Read books or articles about it
  • Pray
  • Talk about it with a trusted confidante.
  • Counseling or therapy
  • Keep a journal
  • Talk to your Pastor
  • Read the Bible
  • Join or start a support group with others struggling with the same issue
  • Forgive yourself
  • Forgive others

Thank Jesus for His love, for dying on the cross so you could be saved, and for helping you overcome your sins on Earth in preparation for eternal life in the kingdom of God.

%d bloggers like this: