How Do You Deal With Negative Habits?

develop emotional freedom with spiritual counseling & coachingI used to smoke cigarettes when I was younger. My mother smoked, her friends smoked, my friends’ parents smoked, so most of my friends and I started smoking when we were teenagers. It seemed such a normal thing to do. Of course, over the years it became a real addiction and at some point I was smoking an average of one pack a day!

Smoking is a tough addiction because cigarettes are very portable and can get easily integrated in everything you do. A meal or a cup of coffee or tea can be followed by by a cigarette; taking a break means having a smoke, or reading a book seems more enjoyable with a cigarette in your mouth… You get the picture.

However, the same dynamic applies to any other habits or addictions, because they become part of your life and your self-perception. Rushing for food, the cookie jar, the tub of ice cream, the TV, the internet, a sexual encounter, or the desire to instigate a fight when you’re stressed or unhappy may not be as self-destructive as cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs, but it is self-defeating as well.

Negative habits arise from a wounded place: a lack of self-love that creates an energy hole. They’re distorted attempts to feed an emotional hunger or anxiety: to fill a void that bypasses any logic or reason. This is why sheer will may not be enough to counteract them, especially if they are deeply ingrained. I tried to quit smoking a few times because I knew it wasn’t good for my health, but I often went back to it during stressful times—that is, until I gave it up for good almost 30 years ago.

I didn’t accomplish it with hypnotherapy or nicotine patches (I don’t think those even existed back then). It was by re-aligning with my body and embracing uncomfortable feelings. Because every negative habit aims at buffering and numbing emotional pain or discomfort. Something touches a wound, and instead of delving into it to shed the light and love it needs to heal, we cover it up or shove it under the rug, pretending it’s not there. The discomfort is gone, at least temporarily, but the wound remains and the habit of silencing our emotions gets reinforced.

This is a common dynamic we learn from our parents and caretakers, because everyone gets spooked by negative emotions. They challenge a rational, logical, stay-in-the-comfort-zone type of approach. And yet, your negative emotions reflect something in you that is outdated, out of balance, or off-center.

Stop Judging & Silencing Your Emotions

Let me tell you how I quit. I had begun meditating, so one day after my morning meditation I went in the kitchen to eat something and do dishes. I was completely focused, peaceful, and centered in my endeavor. Then I lit the oh so usual first cigarette of the day. This time, however, something was different. I clearly felt what it did to my body: my nervous system went buzzing, my mind got foggy, and there was an anxious feeling invading my whole body. Yikes!

The contrast with my previous peaceful state magnified the anxiety cigarettes were supposed to cover up and buffer. I hated it! It robbed me of something that not only was I enjoying that morning: a stable state I yearned for from a much deeper place. I had to make a choice, so I decided that I would simply push my next cigarette as far as I could without forcing anything. The contrasting sensation remained so clear that I didn’t crave or smoke another cigarette ever again! Now, why was it such an easy, natural process? Because it emerged from within, by-passing the ego-mind.

My decision didn’t require any effort and it unfolded almost magically. There was no forcing or doubting; there was no contradiction or struggle; there was no judgment or negative self-talk. There was a clear agreement between the different aspects of myself, thanks to the new habits I had committed to: a daily meditation practice, an ongoing self-exploration, and the determination to honor my emotions and my process, no matter how uncomfortable they got. These acts of self-love paid off then, and have continued to do so to this day.

Meditation creates a space between you and the ego-mind; it gives you the silence you need to start listening to your inner voice. Committing to your self-exploration allows you to take charge of your life by releasing distorted beliefs and nurturing your sense of self. Being determined to accept and honor your emotions, no matter how “unacceptable” they may seem at first, transforms your emotional terrain into a supportive ground to make conscious choices in life.

Now, quitting cigarettes triggered a cleansing process I didn’t anticipate, in terms of my physical body, my environment, and my relationships, because they no longer matched the new person I was becoming. I didn’t know I was also letting go of things and people that resonated with the anxiety and lack of love my addiction was hiding. But I was glad to give it all up to experience greater emotional freedom. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you re-align your energy, so you too can start shedding dis-empowering habits.

  1. Be completely present and mindful in everything you do and do one thing at a time: no multitasking!
  2. Remain grounded and centered in your body as you do what you’re doing: breathe into it.
  3. Watch the impulse toward a negative habit—could be physical, mental, or emotional.
  4. Refrain from going into it and witness the uncomfortable emotions as they arise (keep a journal if needed).
  5. Remain in the emotions without hiding or running to a different place in your mind. Breathe deeply to let go.
  6. Express whatever needs to be expressed: how you feel, what you’re missing, what you want, and so on.
  7. Accept and welcome your self-expression without judgment or rationalization. Simply observe and give yourself permission to be YOU.

Obviously, these guidelines work best when you invest your energy in the 3-part process I mentioned above: a daily meditation, an ongoing self-exploration, and the firm determination to honor your emotions without judgment. These gradually align you on a physical, mental, and emotional level from a centered place of self-awareness and love. Then your life can flow with greater ease and grace. Contact me today to receive the guidance and support you need to discover the power to shed negative habits and transform your experience of reality!

© 2014 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.

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