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Breaking Free of Bad Habits

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever tried to break yourself of a bad habit? More powerful than a bad habit, have you ever tried to free yourself from an addiction? I have. Have you tried to stop many times? I did, too. I would swear to myself that I would quit and the next thing you know, I'd have an emotional moment or a drink and I'd break my promise.

That would start the vicious cycle of self-sabotage/self-loathing all over again. I would then find myself worse off (emotionally and spiritually) than before I even made the attempt to quit.

Bad habits and addictions zap our ability to move forward in life. Since this is the time of year for resolutions, it's the perfect time to give it up!

So after more than 20 years of smoking, I finally quit. Sounds easy to say now, but the reality is far from it. Smoking took up way too much of my life. I couldn't do certain tasks without a cigarette. I wouldn't go anywhere without them. I made other activities wait until I went somewhere to purchase them.

I didn't like the way it smelled and the smell was everywhere, on my breath, my clothing, my car, my house; you get the idea. The constancy of the odor became a metaphor for just how deeply smoking had become ingrained in my life, indeed, it had permeated my life. And the really crazy part about all of this? More often than not, I didn't even enjoy smoking.

So like lots of other people, I tried to quit. Many times. And I always ended up smoking again. Finally, during yet another attempt to quit, I took a smoker's profile test to see if I could find out what it was that attracted me to smoking in the first place. I learned from it that I was a social smoker, meaning that I mostly smoked when I was with other people.

This information was like striking gold because I saw for the first time how I didn't have the courage to decline a smoke offered by a friend for fear that they wouldn't like me anymore. Our human connection was partly bonded through our smoking experience; would there still be a connection if I took that bond away?

One day as I was having a smoker's coughing spell, I suddenly heard the words of one of my mentors: "If you want to be a leader you have to give up the need to be right." It was one of those moments when I knew I had heard a personal truth because of how it resonated in my soul.

I repeated the words to myself once again and decided at that moment that I had to give up my people pleasing ways because I saw clearly just how destructive it was. Not only was I risking my health by smoking, but I was also letting my perception of what others might or might not think about me be the barometer by which I made all my life decisions.

To this day, that moment remains an indelible mark on my brain. That was the day I decided to put myself in charge of my life.

That doesn't mean it was all down hill from there. I still had the withdrawal symptoms to deal with. For me, the power of prayer took them all away. Solid scientific research has been done on prayer and the startling results showing measurable and reproducible benefits that can't be explained by any traditional scientific understanding. 12-step programs also claim the belief in a power greater than self as the bedrock of their programs.

Not only is there documented evidence about the benefits of prayer, but my own experience with it makes me highly recommend it for help with letting go of self-destructive habits.

In addition to the withdrawal, I also had to substitute healthier activities for my old habits and learn how to deal with people being unhappy about my decision(s). Leaders make decisions. When you are a decision maker you must realize that many people will call that decision wrong.

Look at the president of the United States. No matter who's in office, half of the people will disagree with whatever decision is made. Look around. Few people are willing to step up to a leadership position but they are the ones who endure the brunt of public criticism.

The day I decided to take charge of my life I stopped trying to fit in with the status quo. I became the leader of my own life. I decided that it was okay to make my own decisions, okay to be wrong, okay if others didn't like my decisions, and okay if I lost a few smoking buddies as a result. What I gained was so much bigger than all of that. Plus, I haven't had a cigarette since!

What do you need to be right about? What bad habit do you need to give up? Are you willing to give up relationships that are held together by bad habits? I AM!

Action ~ realize that you are a person of CHOICE, one who can choose to do what is right for yourself. Remember that even those who claim to love us have their own reasons for wanting us to stay in our comfort zone.

After you've made the decision to be the leader in your own life, pray. Pray for freedom from your destructive habit and strength to withstand the pressure of the void. You'll be glad you did.
About the Author
Diann S. Cannon, ACC is a certified Business and Personal Coach for independent professionals and small business owners. She is also a successful corporate speaker and facilitator. Contact Diann at diann@signalscoach.com or visit her website at http://www.signalscoach.com.
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