Several years ago after a friend’s wedding I gave up smoking.
That event was about as hedonistic as they got, and as it was a Sikh celebration the booze flowed like tap water. Once one bottle of spirits was completed on the table another arrived. If your pint glass became empty another was placed in front of you.
Because of this endless supply of booze myself and the colleagues from work I was with all ate, smoked and drank to excess. If I’m honest I don’t remember much about the walk back to the hotel, but I know I was carrying a litre and a half of Bacardi with me and I was in a pretty upbeat frame of mind.
Anyone who knows me well will know I have a weakness for catchy bhangra. My iPhone has plenty of such tracks I don’t pretend to understand the words to but love the beat and dance routines. I defy anyone to watch this video from Om Shanti Om and not have a smile on their faces (13 million Youtube viewers can’t be wrong!)
With this in mind spending a few hours in a hall packed full of several hundred Sikhs all dancing with a friend on their shoulders and screwing invisible light bulbs in had put me in an awesome mood.
That also meant that the brakes were off and the more I drank the more I smoked (in those days you could smoke indoors). By the end of the day a conservative estimate put the total of fags smoked that afternoon/evening somewhere around 40-60.
An impressive personal best probably not reached since my pharmaceutically enhanced 1990’s clubbing phase where I chain smoked for England and proudly displayed the yellow fingers of success on a Sunday morning.
When the dawn following the wedding landed my lungs felt like they’d been booted by a team of footballers one by one all night long. My manager and I resolved to kick the habit then and there. It was a done deal. Nothing would get in the way.
Except the journey home. That needed cigarettes – 20 each. It would be impossible to drive from Southampton to the Midlands without smoking.
Ok – it was settled. Nothing would get in the way AFTER the journey home.
Oddly when I got home I actually did stop.
I didn’t smoke another cigarette ever again. My manager carried on for some years after, but for whatever reason that day I’d had enough, and I quit cold turkey.
Because of events like this I have always been convinced that the ONLY way to nail something – to get it out of your life entirely – is to do it so much that you are absolutely ****ing sick of it and can’t take it any more.
I recently came to this point again with alcohol and once again re-inforced my theory.
However, it is potentially very damaging. You have to harm yourself with this method before there’s change, and there’s no certainty that an epiphany will happen. I’m aware that I’m not getting any younger and I’ve put my health at risk in a variety of ways for a long time – so maybe now is time to accept that there may be another path.
I might have just found it too, because for the last few days something has been working for me – and today saved me from ploughing into fast food after a stressful day.
The 3 D’s: Delay, Distract, Decide.
Firstly delay the decision to give in to the craving for a set time. This could be 15-30 mins or an hour. Usually by this time you’ve forgotten about it.
Secondly do something that will occupy your thoughts and grab your attention. Perhaps do something physical to use the energy of the craving or read a book.
After the set time decide what you want to do (there are no right or wrong answers, just balanced choices) – but answer the following:
Advantages of not doing it:
Disadvantages of doing it:
Reasons I want to stop:
My life goals:
After I’d gone through all this I hadn’t eaten a McDonalds meal, or stopped for a bag of chips on the way home. Furthermore I was sober and had eaten the remainder of the healthy pasta I made yesterday evening for dinner with a cup of tea. I’d saved money and felt satisfied.
I’d surfed the wave. Yay!
Now all I have to do is repeat this behaviour again and again. Apparently if you do anything for 60+ days then it becomes instinct.
I’m not convinced you can put such a definitive timescale against change, but I’m willing to give it a try.
When I started my blog I wanted everything immediately. I was an agent of change and I was on fire. I wanted to rip up my world and start a bonfire under myself.
Things don’t happen how you expect though – they happen as they are MEANT to and I now realise that if I want meaningful change I need to take a more structured approach, and that it may not happen overnight. I spent a lifetime learning how to do things the wrong way – it will take a while to re-train.
Once the next two weeks are done the next structure I will try to impose is weight loss, and I intend to join another group to accomplish this. I think that the power of a group has been ably demonstrated to me and I intend to not only participate with others but above all else share my success AND failures. In the past I have hidden when the latter happened out of shame, failing to realise that the power of the group is the support when you falter. Because of that I’ve not prevailed, often falling at the first hurdle.
The 3 D’s will (I hope) come in useful with many of my impulsive behaviours and help me realise my goals.
So what are my goals?
Although they change from time to time they have always remained broadly the same. They are honest and are important to me.
In no particular order:
- Loose weight
- Increase my self confidence and self esteem
- Have positive structure in my life
- Discover what makes me truly happy
- Move on from the past
- Not rely on compulsive behaviours
- Place family and friends at the heart of my life and meet new people
- Help others and give back to society
If I can achieve these then who knows what comes next? I for one want to find out.
Anyway. I’m done for the day. I’m going to put some music on and chill with a comic book while I nod off.
Laters internet. Stay frosty.