“Choice is a gift given to everyone. It is a powerful gift that can change your life.” – Anonymous
Have you ever seen someone quit smoking repeatedly but fail? Are you that person? Many intelligent people smoke and they don’t do it for lack of information about the risks. So if they’re so smart, why are they still smoking?
The choice to smoke despite all the clear adverse health effects is made because of the meaning given to smoking. Good and bad health habits serve us in powerful ways. The power locked up in these habits maintains behaviours. The key to changing bad habits lies in understanding that power.
A common explanation given by smokers is ‘It helps me to feel less stressed’. We know physiologically that there’s nothing further from the truth. How relaxing is it to pollute the body with copious amounts of chemicals that kill cells and crush the oxygen out of your lungs, while increasing the risk for cancer and numerous other diseases? Not very. But the meaning given to having a cigarette is what makes one have the psychological perception of feeling less stressed – it’s the story the smoker tells themselves. The perception of reducing stress is serving that person as a coping mechanism. The question is, at what cost?
There are many stories we tell ourselves about each of our health habits, good and bad. ‘I exercise everyday because it keeps me feeling mentally well’. Having less mental stress through exercise is definitely a major motivator for those who tell themselves that story about the benefits of exercise. Bring awareness to your health habits good and bad – examine them. Pat yourself on the back for the habits that serve to enhance your well being. Learn the storylines behind them and use them as a model for change. With the detrimental habits, start telling yourself new stories to turn your health around.
Set yourself up for success with honest answers to these simple questions:
- Think of your number one worst unhealthy habit – how does it serve you in your life?
- What is the story you tell yourself that enables you to keep this habit despite its ill effects?
- What new storyline can you create to turn this habit around?
Share your inspiration by posting a comment below. Did you ditch a bad health habit? How did you do it?