This past week I revisited Brené Brown’s TED Talks on Vulnerability and Shame. Please check it out:
These talks highlight how vital connections are to our well-being. Brown talks about what qualities the ‘whole hearted’ tend to have in common. The ‘whole hearted’ are those who have the ability to live life fully, who are not bogged down by shame, but are able to be vulnerable and to make significant connections that make life worth living. These qualities are:
- Courage – an ability to live with an open heart
- Compassion – for self and others
- Connection – able to be vulnerable and to connect honestly with others
Strong connections with self, God and others as well as powerful motivation and effective strategies are the recipe needed to successfully change one’s behavior. Whether that behavior is letting go of an addiction or a destructive way of being, success can be experienced when each of these components are present.
Today I want to talk about strategies for letting go of addictive behavior, such as smoking cigarettes. These strategies can be used for any addiction, whether it’s other forms of tobacco or other substances. First, you must get clear about your motivation, your ‘reason why’ you want to stop smoking. It could be for better health now and to live longer to ensure you’re around to enjoy your family. It could be to be able to run that half marathon you’ve been wanting to tackle. You may want to quit because your child doesn’t want to hug you because of the way you smell. Whatever your motivation, keep it ever present in your mind, especially when you are struggling to follow your plan.
Next, you need a plan, including a timeline for quitting and strategies that will support you when tempted. It’s important to give yourself time to practice your strategies. Give yourself about 2-4 weeks to practice. You know best what you need to be ready. Be honest with yourself about how much time you need. During this time you will not only practice your strategies but you may also look into whether NRT (nicotine replacement therapy, ie, the patch, the gum or the lozenge) is a viable option for you. There are also medications available, so you may want to check in with your doctor about your options. Choose your quit date since doing so prevents procrastination.
Now for the strategies. I offer you ‘The 4 Ds’:
- Delay – when you have a craving, don’t give in. Know it will pass in about 5-10 minutes.
- Distract – move right into doing something to distract yourself from smoking. Wash the dishes, chew gum, walk the dog, do push-ups!
- Drink water – stay hydrated. It helps you feel calmer and is a healthy distraction.
- Deep breathing – in through your nose, out through your mouth. Watch your belly rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. Do 4 count breathing: inhale-2-3-4 and exhale-2-3-4. Pause. Repeat.
Before your quit day begin delaying your usual cigarette by 5-20 minutes. You are building your ‘stay quit’ muscles a little bit at a time as you experience the discomfort of not smoking when you want to, and as you do so, you are developing coping skills as you manage the resulting discomfort.
Get rid of all your cigarettes before your quit day. Celebrate your quit day by choosing to do something healthy and good for you to mark the occasion. Play your favorite sport or musical instrument, or get a massage or take yourself out to a movie. And be sure to tell your support group, your ‘Connections’, about your plan to quit and about your quit day and ask for the support you need.
I’d love to hear from you:
- What addiction are you ready to let go of?
- What is your motivation for quitting?
- What strategies are you willing to use?
- If you’ve overcome an addiction, please share your experience. What worked for you? What didn’t work so well?
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Until next time, be gentle with yourself, smile and Shine Your Light!