My secret for quitting a bad health habit

Note: This is a guest essay by Denise Barry.

What does it take for you to quit a bad health habit?

How many of you have experienced an Aha moment – where you knew – ok -this is it – I’m going to quit.

You know, that one moment of clarity, where the magic light bulb goes on.

Profoundly. Irrevocably.

How many of you are still waiting for that lightbulb moment?

Well, get over it!

It’s fun to believe that we can make huge, lasting change in just one thundering flash of insight.

But we don’t need to wait for that.

Is anyone else as relieved as I am?

Recently, I watched as my niece, Emily, prepared for her senior prom. I hadn’t gone to mine, so I was surprised at how much “work” was involved.

She had spent many hours beforehand shopping for the perfect everything. From the earrings down to the shoes. Then, on the Big Day, she went through a myriad of well-timed adorning. Namely hair, nails and makeup. It seemed exhausting to me but Emily had enjoyed every minute of it.

On that day, as I watched Emily being magically transformed with every stroke of the makeup brush, I chatted with Kathy, her fairy cosmetic-mother.

Kathy proudly shared with me that she had quit smoking “two months, two days and one hour ago.”

I laughed and commended her on this amazing achievement. I admitted that I, too, had quit smoking once upon a time.

She asked how long it had been for me. I told her I honestly didn’t know.

Her jaw dropped faster than a meteor could head to Earth. “How could you not know?” she cried.

Shrugging my shoulders I said, “I don’t know why I don’t know.

As soon as I quit, I was just done with it. I never looked back.”

Her jaw descended even further.

This is not to say that it had been effortless.

I had attempted to quit many times in the past, but the withdrawal symptoms always pulled me back in.

I still experienced all of those symptoms this time as well, but the difference was that I knew with certainty I was finished.

This kept me from resisting the experience.

I just accepted “what is” without looking for a way out.

“So, what was your Aha moment then?” Kathy eagerly asked.

I wracked my brain trying to find an Aha moment to share. I couldn’t.

Upon reflection, I realized there had been many moments of insight which had gotten me to that point.

There was the time I was determined to quit and hadn’t smoked for two days, which felt like forever! On the evening of that second night I broke down and told my sister that I “couldn’t take it anymore” and was going out to buy a pack of cigarettes.

With a disgusted look she said, “you don’t NEED them Denise!”

I thought, I don’t? But it sure feels like I do! I felt ashamed, but I bought them anyway.

Then, there was the time my brother-in-law, who had watched me light up and take a big drag, asked me how I was enjoying my “cancer stick.” I was never able to shake off that image, yet I still smoked.

There were many times, as I inhaled those enslaving fumes, where I became conscious of what I was doing to my health and how that would affect my family.

Even though I knew I could be killing myself with my own hand, I continued to smoke. For a while.

I believe once you get a glimpse of awareness you can either choose to ignore it or open yourself to it.

As the French inventor Louis Pasteur once said:

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

When my mind had had enough preparation, it just clicked on.

Or off, depending on how you want to look at it.

Maybe something beyond the thinking, rationalizing mind finally kicked in.

I thought about my niece on the night of her prom. She was Cinderella, standing before the doors of The Royal Ball, seemingly having been transformed by a wave of the magic wand.

But behind the scenes, it had taken a lot of preparation and “work” to get her there.

Maybe, instead of waiting for that “magic moment” (which may or may not happen spontaneously), we can open ourselves to all of the smaller ones that could eventually lead us to freedom.

How cool would it be if we could also allow ourselves to have as much fun as Emily did along the way?

Written and shared with love by Denise Barry.
To find out more about Denise click here!


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