Stagnation Through Behavior Modification

Behaviors never exist in a vacuum.

The behaviors that show up in our daily lives have deeper roots.

“If you try to change your behavior without changing your identity, you’re pulling up a weed without getting to the root.” Craig Groeshel

“To ensure a weed doesn’t come back, you have to reach down and pull out what is not visible.” Craig Groeshel

“Motivation and willpower are both limited resources you will deplete quickly. Behavior modification does not equip you with the power to change.” Craig Groeshel

“It’s hard to change your habit if you never change the underlying belief that led you to your past behavior.” James Clear

Cybernetics Theory

First-order change – Behavior modification
Second-order change – Change the way you think

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

To change what you do, you need first to change what you think of you.


If we look at our “start” and “stop” behaviors from a few weeks ago, write down the ways you have failed to change these behaviors in the past.

Consider how your past efforts were like pulling a weed up without getting at the root.

How we go about change matters.
The way we have been approaching change isn’t working.

We must change the way we think about ourselves.

P11 workbook
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (23:7 NASB). In other words, the thoughts running through your mind shape your perspective and attitude about who you chink you are. Based on your life events, interactions with others, and most importantly, your responses–especially internally-you form a story that you tell yourself.

P15 Workbook
When you’re locked in on seeing and thinking certain ways, you lose sight of who you really are. Before you can embrace the truth of who God says you are, you can make the process easier by identifying your false identity. beliefs and the ways they have undermined your previous plans to change. Think of it as clearing out the old, false self-beliefs in order to make room for what is true.
Exercises 1, 2, and 3 in The Power to Change are a helpful start for growing in self-awareness. But if you want to go deeper, it’s important to understand how your toxic self-thoughts were planted, how they’ve been reinforced and taken root, and how they’ve bloomed into false beliefs about your identity. With this as your goal, it’s time to do some thought-weeding!

“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭3‬-‭5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Thought Journal

Jot down any thoughts that negatively impact the way you see yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as you’re able to record thoughts that prevent you from seeing yourself the way God sees you.1

Start in the morning when you wake up and check in with yourself. Go beyond how you’re feeling and any expectations for that day. Instead, notice what you’re telling yourself about yourself. Record the time and any details related to your false thinking. For instance, you might note, “Tuesday, 8:45 am, just spilled coffee on my shirt while getting in my car. Thought: I’m so clumsy -I never do anything right!” Or “Friday, 10:22 am, in breakroom after team meeting. Thought: My coworkers think I’m overweight, so I might as well have another donut.”1

For now, you are just trying to record your thoughts along with the time and circumstances around them. We’ll come back to this later.


Groeschel, C. (2023). The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Zondervan.

Craig Booker

Craig Booker

I'm the founder of Overflow. Through its newsletter, podcast, community group, and YouTube channel, Overflow helps you improve your well-being.


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