Whatever you decide to change, one thing is for certain. In order to be sustainable, change has to happen gradually and relatively painlessly. Trying to make black and white changes seldom works. Instead, you should aspire to many shades of gray. For instance, to use changing your smoking habit as an illustration of my point, if you’ve never managed to quit smoking “cold turkey” you might taper your smoking off slowly. Do you really think if you normally smoke 2 packs a day you would notice if you smoked one less cigarette a day? And then 2 less a day? And then… ?
I’m sure you can see the pattern here. All you do is decrease your smoking habit by one cigarette a day over time. You might decrease it by one cigarette a day every day, every few days, every week, every few weeks… whatever you can manage without creating a deprivation cycle for yourself, “deprivation cycle” meaning a regimen that is unsustainable due to the perception that you are being deprived of something that is crucial to your happiness. Crash diets are good examples of deprivation cycles. What’s important is that you do not try to accomplish your goals for change via denying yourself. What normally happens when someone tells you to stop something, or that you can’t have something? Well, you probably resist, at least initially. We seem to be willful creatures who will not be told what to do by anyone, including ourselves.
Instead, quit smoking in a way that does not allow you to notice it, in a way that is slow and sustainable, and in a way that allows both your body and psyche to wean themselves off naturally. In addition to this, you must create replacements for your smoking. Quitting without doing this just creates a vacuum that will eventually fill itself again whether you like it or not. In order to find replacements for smoking you have to explore which needs you are meeting when smoking. For instance, maybe you have a need to create mini-holidays for yourself throughout the day, i.e., to bring yourself into the moment so as escape stress, and smoking satisfies that need. You cannot deny this need, but you can certainly meet it via some other means other than smoking. In this case, you might learn how to do short and simple meditations that you can implement anytime in order to meet your need to periodically de-stress.
To summarize, the task at hand here is quit smoking at a sustainable pace, and via identifying which needs you are meeting by smoking so you can get them satisfied by doing something else. It’s as simple and as complex as that. In the end, this really comes down to having the desire to quit. If you are doing it for someone else, or because you “should” it is doubtful your attempts will be successful no matter what method you use. If you want to because it will afford you a better life, well you have a fighting chance. Quitting smoking will be one of the greatest accomplishments you will ever achieve… Good luck!
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