Habitual thoughts and actions are not easily changed, but that doesn't mean they're impossible to change. Perhaps the key is some advanced planning.
In less than two weeks, on February 13, the Lenten season will begin with Ash Wednesday. For me, the focus during Lent used to be "giving up" something, and to be honest, I thought more about whatever I was relinquishing than I did about anything else. In recent years, the Church has put more emphasis on doing something positive during the Lenten season rather than "giving something up".
This year I wonder if I might try a somewhat different approach. This year, perhaps, I can work on trying to "cleaning house" a bit. In the days leading up to Lent, I'd like to try to identify one area of sinfulness to work on and try to give that up following a "program" based on the advice of my favorite saint, Francis de Sales:
When we struggle against some vice, in as far as it is possible, we ought to embrace the practice of the contrary virtue, relating all the others to it. By this means, we shall overcome our enemy and we shall not cease to advance in all other virtues. If I am attacked by pride or anger I should in all circumstances incline and direct myself to the practice of humility and gentleness...In his book, Introduction to the Devout Life, and in some of his letters of spiritual direction, de Sales advises those seeking to draw closer to God not to try to become perfect all at once; he recognizes that this sort of over-eager approach often burns out when the individual realizes the goal is unattainable. Nor does he suggest trying to become holy in ways that are showy and dramatic; the aim is to "impress" no one but God. And really, the objective isn't to "impress" God, but to live the life he's calling us to... one little bit at a time.
The practice of self-purification cannot and should not come to an end as long as we live. Therefore, let us not be disturbed by our imperfections, because our perfection consists in fighting them. And we cannot fight them unless we see them, nor can we overcome them if we do not come across them. Our victory is not in not being aware of them but in not consenting to them...
So over the next 12 days, with the help of God, I hope to identify one small area of brokenness and one virtue to practice in its stead. I will try, over the course of Lent, to work with God to do a bit of spiritual housecleaning.