If you’re really struggling with a vice or an addiction, this formula has worked to free people from lifetime addictions. I’ve shared it with thousands and I’ve never known it to fail.
Begin each morning with prayer. Start with the simple Guardian Angel prayer. Then give thanks to God for keeping you safe throughout the night, for giving you another opportunity to serve Him, to do penance, to serve others, to make reparation for your sins, to grow in holiness. There are many good Morning Prayers in the 1962 Missal from Angelus Press. If you’re working on a particular vice or habit, make sure you ask Our Lord and your Guardian Angel for specific help throughout the day to avoid the near occasion of sin and to grow in the opposing virtue.
Daily holy hour with particular emphasis on mental prayer
The daily holy hour is the centerpiece of this strategy for victory over sin. It’s best done first thing in the morning, after the bathroom and after coffee, but before anything else.
Your goal here is to enter into an intimate conversation with God. A good starting point is mediation on the readings for the day, or the breviary, and then quietly turn your thoughts and quiet internal conversation towards Our Lord. Share the things that are on your mind. Tell him about your hopes, dreams, fears. Then stop talking. Direct your imagination towards the readings of the day or a mystery of the rosary. Stay silent and listen to God.
It will be hard at first. Begin again, over and over. Work at this for an hour. Then begin your day.
Cold shower as a punishment any time you fall
When you fall back into your old ways, there must be a consequence. Commit to this. When you fall, take a cold shower. Now you’re establishing a link between the behavior and the consequences of that behavior. Over time your will inevitably grows stronger. If the cold showers are not enough, deprive yourself of something else. Social media, coffee, alcohol, soda, whatever it might be. It’s vital that there is a real, material result from your failure.
Fast and abstain on Wed and Friday. Water, tea/coffee only.
Fasting and abstaining on Wed and Friday is an ancient, proven practice for disciplining the body and mind. This is not a punishment, but training. Make a commitment to yourself the day before that you will not consume any calories the following day. It’s vital that you prove to yourself that you can do difficult things. It will be difficult because the demons Satan has assigned to you will actively work to tempt you in this area. Our Lord permits this so you will grow in strength against temptation. Drink all the ater you want. Use it proactively to ward off hunger. Room temperature water is best. You may have tea or black coffee. No calories.
Evening examination of conscience
The evening examination of conscience is your opportunity to review the day. What are you grateful for? There must be many things. Review the day looking for opportunities to give thanks to God. Ask your guardian angel to help you through this examination.
Next, review the day, this time looking for the ways in which you failed to do what God was calling you to, or in which you failed through sins of commission.
Finally, make your act of contrition.
The saints recommend weekly confession for those wishing to grow in holiness. This frequency ensures that your conscience becomes more sensitive to sin. It might also be helpful for you to use a new/different examination of conscience as you prepare. Focus on three main areas of sin. Of course, you must confess any mortal sins, but it’s not necessary to give a list of 10 venial sins.
Hopefully, it’s not necessary to make a formal appointment with a priest in order to receive the sacrament. Near your home, your work, or along your commute there is probably at least one parish with multiple opportunities for confession. Make a commitment to yourself and put it on the calendar. If you must wait in line, say your rosary, pray the breviary, or read good spiritual books.
Remember to ‘be brief, be bold, be gone’ in the confessional. This is not therapy. Confess the number and time of your sins. Don’t linger. Get to your penance so others can access the sacrament.
Accountability partner who will text you every day and ask you how you’re doing.
Find someone who will text you every day to ask you how you are doing with your commitments. It’s not even necessary that you tell this person the specific vice you’re trying to overcome (although that’s fine). This person simply needs to be disciplined enough to text you every day at a random time to ask you if you are sticking with your commitments (to avoid the vice and to pursue this proven strategy).
Knowing that this person will text you and that you’ll have to confront them is one more help in your journey of developing self discipline.
40 day Novena to St Joseph
When you really need a miracle, you can count on St. Joseph. Next to Our Lady, he is the greatest Saint in heaven. For men in particular, he is a great source of assistance. I recommend this novena when you really need a supernatural event. Pray it every morning for 40 days.
Please let me know about your success story!