This article was originally written by Jill Binder
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Do you do Bad Things? Even though you know you shouldn’t?
It’s not your fault. It really isn’t. You know you should stop doing it, but no matter how much you know that, and how much you try, you just can’t stop!
Everyone knows how to lose weight. Don’t eat fattening foods. Exercise. Everyone knows how to give up smoking. Don’t light the cigarette. Yet having this knowledge just isn’t enough. Sometimes even having the desire isn’t enough! Time and again I hear about people who get really close to quitting smoking. They can get all the way down to one or two cigarettes a day, but just can’t give up those last two. Many even make it all the way down to zero, but the cravings, oh the cravings! They are wretched, those cravings. Most will go back to smoking within the first few days. They can cut away most of the “stuff” that keeps them glued to the cigarettes, even not be addicted to nicotine anymore(!), but there is just something deep in their core that magnetically pulls them back in, like two lovers who know they are bad for each other but just can’t help themselves.
What is this thing? What is at this core?
Let me take a step back for a moment. How many adults do you know who are happy? I mean really, truly happy? Think that question is foolishness? Let me ask you this. How many people do you know who love their work? I’m talkin’ jump out of bed in the morning, can’t wait to start. Sadly, the percentage is very small. Why is this?
We live in an interesting quick-fix culture. People don’t really have to deal with their issues. We’ve got:
and hitting the gym
to distract us and make us feel better. Even more than that, many people’s issues are quite buried. Think of dreams that were squashed when we were young. “An artist? You could never make a living at that! You should be a doctor!” People often forget what their dreams once were.
As a result, I see an awful lot of unhappy, unfulfilled people walking around. They don’t know what is bothering them, they just have that gnawing feeling that there must be more. Advertisers pray on this, selling us more and more bottles and gizmos to give us that ever elusive Happiness.
True inner needs? People either:
think they’re impossible to fulfill
are too scared and resigned to fulfill them
or are so disassociated from those needs that they don’t even know what they would be even if they had to guess!
All those “bad” things — smoking, overeating, gambling, alcohol, the list goes on and on — are easy ways to fill the void. Smokers will be able to relate to this one — if you’ve just had a fight with your family, what do you do? You go for a smoke. Smoking makes it feel like the problem goes away. (I call this the “smokescreen.” Har har!)
I’ll let you in on a little secret–the real reason it’s so hard to quit is not the nicotine. It’s this void-filling. When you quit smoking (or any bad habit), you’re suddenly faced with real life. All those stresses and needs that you’ve been avoiding? There they are, pulling at your coat tails, yelling, “Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me!” If you got in touch with your real inner needs and took baby steps to start fulfilling them, you would actually have little desire for cigarettes. It’s true! I see it happen time and again in my Stop Smoking Coaching practice.
How do you do that, you ask? Here are some baby steps that you can start trying out now:
Next time, instead of taking that quick fix–stop.
Have a little quiet time and listen to what your insides have been trying to tell you.
Try journaling — don’t edit your thoughts, just write.
Some people find meditation and yoga to be great accesses.
Try deep breathing.
Go for a quiet, leisurely walk by yourself.
Personally, I find it easiest to just start noticing where in life I seem to be avoiding things the most, or if I want something more immediate and active, doing a mindmap (a word drawing) to figure out what I’m really thinking.
For each person, the key to figuring out your needs is different. Play around with it, don’t give up! You’ll be glad you did!
Jill Binder is a Stop Smoking Coach with a 90 day program to show people how to quit smoking forever, with a 100% success rate. She is the author of “What’s Your Smoking Type?” and has appeared on the radio on “Radioactive Women” and the newspaper Metro Toronto Today.
You can sign up for her newsletter, “YourTurn – Turn Your Weaknesses Into Your Perfect Life” at https://petinstead.com/StopSmokingCoach.ca.