Friday, July 31, 2009

Quitting Smoking = Healing My Life (part 1)

So, I've made it to the one week mark. I quit smoking 7 days ago. I've been using the nicotine gum, and doing pretty well! But I have a confession. There is one hurtle I have yet to overcome. That last cigarette before bed. After the kids and hubby are in bed and the housework is done, when it's just me and my thoughts. I have not managed to give up that last cigarette each night. So, the ticker at the top of my page isn't 100% accurate. Take away 6 or 7 cigarettes from the part where it says "Number of Cigarettes Avoided."

But I can't think of myself as a failure. I can't judge myself badly for that. This is a habit that is 10 years in the making. So it's time to look deeper. Why do I feel the need to smoke? What have the cigarettes been a "smoke screen" for?

I have the book, "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay. I have read it, but I haven't really taken the time to apply each lesson to my life. But now I think it's time. Perhaps if I really take the time to work thru some core issues, I can truly give up this habit for good!! Did you know this is my 3rd or 4th time to "Quit" smoking??

I started smoking when I was 17, but just socially. When I was 18, I got pregnant, and quit smoking, but as soon as Miss Z. was born, I started smoking again, and not just socially. I kept smoking until I was 23, when I got pregnant again. So I quit again. After I had Princess A, I didn't start smoking again. Not for 3 years, until after the birth of my 3rd baby. At first, again, it was just socially. When I was drinking, or when I was stressed, but of course, this accumulated to the point of being a full-on smoker again. In '07 I tried to quit again. I made it about 1 month, then started again. I blamed it on stress. I've Always blamed it on stress.

This time, I don't want to start again. I don't want to continue to use smoking as a vice to help me deal with stress. I don't want to lose my commitment as soon as life turns stressful again; and it will!! So I think this time around it will be time for a little more soul-searching. Time to heal not just the addiction, but the roots of the addiction itself!! So, remembering that this book had some great advice for Healing all sorts of problems, I dug it out of my bookshelf, and re-read chapter one.

I'm going to quote some key points from this chapter and then talk about how I can apply these points to my life, right now, and my goal of quitting smoking.

1) Life is really very simple. What we give out, we get back.
The more I stress and worry about quitting, the harder it becomes. If I simply trust that I can do it, I can! I need to fully believe the the Universe / Life will assist me with my goal. Staying positive, uplifting myself, and never criticizing myself will create the positive outcome I desire!! Also, in treating others with love, kindness, respect, sympathy, and support, I will get the same back!!

2) The Universe Totally Supports us in every thought we choose to think and believe.
So, rather than thinking "It is so hard to quit smoking", or "I am having trouble quitting", my thoughts should remain focused on the positive outcome! Affirm!! Celebrate!! "I am a non-smoker!" "I have successfully quit smoking!!" "I am in control of my cravings!! I make healthy choices!!!!"

3) The Universal Power never judges or criticizes us.
When I am struggling, God/dess does not see me as "weak". If I make a mistake, The Universe does not label me as a failure. I should not pass these judgments on myself either! When I see myself in the same loving light that God sees me in, it is so much easier to simply smile and move forward. No "Tallying up the failures", no criticizing the past mistakes.

4) Most of us have Foolish ideas about who we are and many, many rigid rules about how life ought to be lived.
"I need a cigarette to calm down. I need to smoke to wind down. Wow, I'm stressed out, I need to smoke. Quitting smoking is harder than quitting a drug addiction. I can't deal with stress. If someone else is smoking near me, I need to smoke too." These are some examples of some of the beliefs that I have held, some of the attitudes I have had, that have further enabled me to continue smoking. Changing these core beliefs shouldn't be too hard, once I accept that there is no truth behind any of these statements.

5) When we are children, we learn how to feel about ourselves and life by the reactions of the adults around us.
Okay, at this point things get deep. I may have to reserve another blog for this (and the next) entirely. My parents were loving and kind, but not always supportive. ("You just can't stay focused. What were you thinking?") And they were very strict and protective of me. So, thinking of this - am I still smoking because I am STILL, at 29 years old, rebelling against my parents? Do I have trouble quitting because my mom always told me that I was a naive', scatterbrained, silly little girl who could not focus or get things done? (No, she did not say it in those words, or even in a mean way. But this is the feeling I remember.) And then my dad, always so positive, but harshly judgemental at the same time. How would I ever measure up? I remember as a teenager, realizing that I could NEVER live up to their standards, so why try? Then came the smoking, drinking, and drugs.... sigh..... Yes, it is all connected.

6) When we grow up we have a tendency to re-create the emotional environment of our early home life. However, we should not blame our parents for this.
(Louise L. Hay goes on to say that we cannot blame our parents, because they were just recreating what they had learned as children, and they their parents before them. We cannot place the blame on others, because this just creates resentment. And resentment causes illnesses and addiction - it's counterproductive.) In what way am I recreating my home life by smoking? Neither of my parents smoked. But I would agree that they each had their vices and addictions, their ways of avoiding the stress rather than dealing with it. And then I, wanting to rebel, and feeling like I would never be accepted by them, chose smoking as my vice. Perhaps even my previous failed attempts of quitting smoking is just mirroring the way that I always felt that my parents were trapped with each other, trapped in a lifestyle that didn't seem to make them happy. I don't have to be trapped. I'm not trapped, and I don't need to rebel anymore. But I still feel the need for their approval, and I still feel like I will always fall short. Like I said, this may need a whole different blog post. After all, this is just the first chapter!

7) We Choose Our Parents.
Louise L. Hay belives along with myself, and many others, that before we are born we get to choose certain things in our life. We get to choose who our parents will be, and what life lessons we would like to learn. It's good to take time to remember this. No one has perfect parents. No one has a "Perfect" relationship with their parents. It's all part of the human experience. Some may be learning a very difficult lesson; in having no parents, or in having abusive parents. Some simply have to learn to overcome the beliefs instilled by their parents, or to embrace them. So I must ask myself, what wonderful things have I learned from my parents? Because I must have choosen them because of what they could teach me - beyond the negative. I think that from my mother I have learned about Faith and Trust. And from my father I have learned Humor and how to stick with something and not give up, To Go After My Dreams. These things are all lessons that I can utilize to help me quit smoking!

8) The point of power is always in the present moment.
When I am feeling most weak and tempted, I am thinking of my past. I am thinking of how I used to be, how I smoked one cigarette last night, so I obviously can't control myself, and that I should do it again. Or I am thinking of my past feelings of addiction; the past feelings of pleasure I may have had from smoking. I must bring my awareness to the NOW, and remember that past and future do not dictate this moment. My power, my spirit, my thoughts, my beliefs, are HERE and NOW. One of my favorite affirmations is hanging on the wall above my desk. It says; "In the here and now, I am strong. I have Divine energy, wisdom, insight and ability. In this very moment I can accomplish anything I want with my own willpower and spirit! "

9) The only thing we are ever dealing with is Thought, and Thought can be changed.
When I think "I am weak, I need to smoke." or "Gosh I really want a cigarette right now.", these are THOUGHTS. Not realities. If I change my Thoughts, I change my reality. "I am strong. I have done so well. I am really doing great in reaching my goal. This gets easier every day."

10) The innermost belief that creates negativity is "I'm not good enough."
Why is it so hard for most people to look themselves in the mirror and say "I AM WONDERFUL" ? I've got a head start on this one, because my spiritual journey over the past few years has been about learning to Love myself. Fully and Truly. I am still working on it; it's hard to overcome generations and decades of society telling us all that we're not good enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough. But I know, deep inside, that I am worthy of self-respect. I am worthy of love. My body is worthy of being treated like a temple! When I am tempted to smoke, I need only remind myself that I am good enough and worthy of being healthy and free of addictions!

11) Resentment, criticism, guilt, and fear cause more problems than anything else.
Boy, do I know that one. I know and can admit that it was my own feelings of guilt, fear, self -criticism, and inner resentment that caused me to smoke in the first place. As a teenager I began to drink, smoke, and do drugs to try and mask or self-medicate these feelings, but these masks did not help the problem, did not cure the feelings, only made them worse. Worse, but buried. Now they are buried deep, and have probably bee festering for a long time. I've come so far... I have been clean from drugs for 8 years. I hardly ever drink, and never get drunk anymore. So I'm chipping away the mask, little by little. Once I get through this last part, I think I can finally begin to heal these inner feelings which cause much more than just my addictions. Who knows what else in my life can be healed once I face these innermost beasts?

12) We can change our attitude towards the past.
As you might be able to tell from the previous paragraph, I have a rocky past. It's not easy for me to think about it or talk about it. So changing my attitude about it? Hmmm. What I already know is that our past does not have to define our present. I was a drug addict. Not anymore. I was an unmotivated slob, with no housekeeping skills. Not anymore. I was a smoker....
Not Anymore!

13) To release the past, we must be willing to forgive.
True forgiveness can be really hard when you have truly dark things in your past. When I think of my past in terms of forgiveness, I feel those old resentments bubbling up. Anger. Fear. Yes, even Hate. How can I really forgive those who have hurt me? Rape. Physical Abuse. Mental Abuse. Even thinking about it now makes me shake, and suddenly I am fighting an urge to go smoke!! There it is, there is the core of my problems, the roots of my insecurity. Those feelings aren't gone, they are just buried and masked. And hardest of all to forgive is myself. The book says "We may not know how to forgive, and we may not want to forgive, but the very fact that we say we are willing to forgive begins the healing process. It is imperative for our own healing that we release the past and forgive everyone."
I forgive you for not being the way I wanted you to be. I forgive you and I set you free.

14) All Dis-Ease comes from a state of unforgiveness.
Whether it be our parents, ourselves, or someone else that has hurt us, I know that holding onto resentment can create no good. Resentment is a thought, and thoughts become feelings, and feelings manifest themselves in physical ways. Have you ever been so stressed that you give yourself a stomach ache? So sad or depressed that you make yourself sick? Resentment might not create these instant illnesses such as headaches or stomach aches, but since it is such a deep feeling it can cause the deeper illnesses. Chronic pain, digestive problems, additions, even cancer. Working on forgiveness; of myself and others, is the true way to Heal my Life.

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