I made the decision to quit smoking in 1991.
It completely changed my life. I switched from a calm (relatively speaking, lol), cool, and level-headed smoker to a nasty witch with overwhelming withdrawals. My temper became short. I was frustrated with everything surrounding me, and no matter how nice I wanted to be, everything that I said was abrupt and sounded like I was irritated — because I was!
I decided to quit smoking with good intentions, but it didn’t provide me – or the people around me – with a pleasant outcome until much later.
I was changing my life and removing a toxic habit. My decision to stop smoking was supposed to be a good thing!
But all I could think about was one thing: how badly I wanted a smoke.
Making a change: the good, the bad, the ugly
Change is a good idea, but it doesn’t always feel that way.
For example: Quitting an addiction is a positive choice, but it is not easy.
We become emotionally dependent on our vice of choice, whether it’s smoking, alcohol, or comfort foods. It can even be our work, TV, gambling or binging on Netflix. We create a routine of indulging in these guilty pleasures and our brain gets used to the relief they bring us.
Making the decision to quit is a hard one initially, but it only gets harder afterwards. The temptation to indulge is very difficult to resist.
A recently published international study from BMJ Open states the number of times for an individual to quit smoking ranges between 8 and 14 attempts. I fell right in with the norm and as Mark Twain once said:
“Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.”
Deciding to quit smoking is just one example of a lifestyle change. There are so many choices that can be a catalyst to really mess with your routines. It starts with taking one step to improve your overall health by removing a simple, guilty pleasure, a stress reliever, and one of the many reasons you and your friends have to gather around for small talk.
I quit smoking to improve my life, but I didn’t fully realize what that meant. I knew I would have to endure the stress and frustration of nicotine withdrawals, but what I didn’t know is that it meant my poor husband had to put up with an agitated wife, to the point of offering up his own nicotine patches in order to avoid my whining and temper. The process tested my resolve and had me wondering, “Is this really worth it? Because I really did enjoy smoking.”
I wanted to be excited about changing my life for the better, but in the process of quitting – nothing seemed worse.
The process of change
Without change, life would never progress. If nothing ever changed, I would be writing this while smoking another pack, wearing bell bottom jeans, a tie-dye crop top, and my permed hair in a scrunchie. I’ve seen those pictures and I have to say… I’m glad for the change.
There are a lot of people who thrive on change and use it to create extraordinary lives — I’m not one of those people. While I like change, I like to ‘control’ the process even more, lol, or at least hold onto the illusion I have control even when I don’t. What I’m truly resisting is accepting all the chaos that comes with change.
I don’t like chaos. Most of us don’t like chaos.
Chaos is this weird place where our lives get messy and we have to sort our way through a bunch of deep, personal bullshit and the stories we’ve been telling ourselves to get back on track to being our authentic selves. For me it’s a Twisted Fun Zone that’s full of unanswered questions, which ultimately, helps us figure out what to do with life’s changes.
Chaos is uncomfortable! But it’s a necessary part of the process that helps us to get unstuck. In the midst of chaos, we can take an opportunity to view our world through a different lens and gain clarity on what’s working for and against us.
I’ve talked about shifting our perspectives to change our outlook on our life. When we create change, it allows for a different perspective to determine the right and wrong (best fit) in our lives and how it will affect our future.
If we’re stuck in a job we hate, or a relationship that doesn’t make us happy anymore, or our finances aren’t as maintained as we’d like them to be, we can re-evaluate our priorities and start taking the necessary steps to get where we want to go. In order to improve, we must embrace change. We must take control of the situation when we realize we’re not exercising enough, smoke too much, or have poor eating habits or have put in another 70 work week!
Nothing remains static. Whether you resist or embrace it, love or hate it, your life will change because change IS unavoidable. For better or for worse, the choice is always yours alone to make.
I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in Beating Burnout, Lowering Stress and Powering Up Your Happy! Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!
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