“The reason it is difficult for you to quit smoking is because you identify yourself as a smoker,” said the wise man (I forget his name, but obviously not his words). These words hit home as I puffed on my “healthy, natural” brand of cigarettes. He was right! I identified myself as being someone who smokes. It was what I did when I was bored, driving in the car, had just finished eating, while I was drinking coffee, or sipping on cocktails. If I were going to change this habit, “Smoker Sabby” was gone and in my mind this meant a part of me was dying. I didn’t want to kill “Smoker Sabby,” she had always been there to keep me company. Sadly though, she wasn’t serving me any good.
We hold this notion that by letting go of an old habit or ideology, we are losing something. We set focus on the loss rather than what we aim to gain. Quitting a bad habit is challenging and fearing the unknown is difficult. It is easy to stick to the things we are familiar with because they provide comfort. When recognizing this, I looked fear head on and demanded leeway!
Shifting Perception for Lasting Change
1. You Must Be Willing
First, I had the willingness to change. Willingness creates an opportunity for success. I knew smoking was a habit I would quit; when I would quit was always the question. In December of 2012, I decided there was no better time than the present to quit.
2. Making the Commitment
Driving and down to my last cigarette, at a crossroads, was the moment I decided I was willing to commit to a new me. This was it, go big or go home! I could quit for good or continue to smoke, if I continued, I could not feel guilty for the choices I was making. I felt a slight hesitation, but my willingness and motivation was strong. I took a deep breath, a few deep breathes actually, and asked God to help me with this commitment. “I QUIT!”
3. I Recognized My Emotions & Faced Them Head On
Anticipating my decision to quit would surface deep emotions I was prepared to face. “Smoker Sabby” was gone! I allowed myself to grieve. Recognizing the grief that comes from letting go of something familiar is important. Being aware of this grief helps us to heal when it surfaces. The emotions that arose were stemmed in fear. Confronting emotion elicits two choices: giving into fear, or letting fear back down. If we face our fears and discomforts head on they will give way.
I clued in some friends and family that I might be emotional or edgy for a while. It could be helpful to share your decision with someone close. It is comforting to have support.
I allowed the process to take its course, without judgment or ridicule. I know, easier said than done, right?! Change has to start somewhere, and so does patience. This was a true testament for me. Being that person who tries to take two steps at once, I had to learn to slow down and be okay with not being okay. It is important to remember that lasting change takes care and patience. When we nurture the change, we blossom with ease and timeliness. Treat yourself with kindness and change will come with great stride.
5. Seek Solace Within
Moments of temptation were moments I chose to pray, breathe, and meditate. I had an arsenal of tools that could zap temptation from getting the best of me. Lasting success or achievement is sustained by a place within. You can call this place your higher self or spirit, however way you choose to reference it. Retreat to this place and allow it to fuel all efforts. Most importantly know that you are not alone on your journey.
6. Unifying Mind, Body & Spirit
I knew I had to take good care of myself during this time. For me that included prayer, meditation, working out, and eating a healthy diet. When choosing a form of meditation, prayer or workout routine, decide on something you love doing. When you love what you chose to do, it will love you back. Don’t know what you love? Play around with different work out routines and styles of prayer and meditation. What you love will jump out at you. In choosing a healthy diet, chose one that makes you feel good and promotes health. A health coach or naturopath can be helpful in deciding what diet is best for you and your lifestyle.
I admit living a lifestyle that will serve us can sometimes be challenging, especially in the face of bad habits we have grown fond of. But hear me out; the little changes are the ones that have the biggest impacts. The lessons I learned from quitting smoking have helped me prepare for even bigger challenges. I have learned deeper discipline, patience, and commitment and through this reaped wonderful rewards. I offer you courage and support along your journey and wish you the best of luck releasing any old habits that no longer serve you!
Be You, Be Free, Be Peace, Know Love, Experience Miracles
©Freebird LLC 2013 Sabrina Jo Atto, Wellness Facilitator