July 1st is the first day in Singapore when pubs, clubs and other social gathering spots are becoming smoke-free. I’ve been able to help a number of people over the last years, and especially the last month to ‘kick the habit’ in time for this legal shift in smoking allowance.
So I was thinking about habits, because they are the ‘things’ we do automatically which are located quite firmly in the subconscious mind.
And I was thinking of the moral judgments that we put on some, and not on others. As William Shakespeare said “There is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” The question arises, then, what are the rights of vices, and is ‘one man’s virtue another man’s vice”?
When is a Bad Habit really Bad?
I was reading an article in a magazine in some waiting room a while ago. I believe that the title of it was something like “Insanity by Location” and it spoke about the ‘norms’ of cultures around the world, and how the way ‘others’ eat, interact, look at themselves, spend time and resources may seem insane to ‘us’. For example, body image – from tattoos, to constant dieting, to having the largest body in the village – differs greatly from culture to culture, yet we often have a hard time wrapping our mind around these differences, because we were exposed to a certain brand of ‘right’ thinking. While smoking in Native American culture started as a ceremony and prayer, North American smokers these days are shunned as monsters – killing children and destroying lives. The way we look at things tends to be influenced by our past upbringing and programming and by the society (and age) that surrounds us. Which means that ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ is a bit of a moving target.
But I enjoy it
I’ve had several friends and acquaintances ask me if I’m going to ‘force’ them to stop smoking. And I always counter that if they enjoy smoking, PLEASE KEEP SMOKING. I wouldn’t feel it was in my power or right to impose a change that is unwanted (these changes tend to be short-lived as well). Instead, I pass a card to them and say “when it’s not working for you any more, when you stop enjoying it, I can help you then.” People may wonder why I say it that way – it’s because of a pattern that tends to pop up time and time again. When people start feeling badly about what they are doing, when they are uneasy about the way in which they are conducting their habits and their lives, they may feel a dis-ease that sometimes leads to disease. Rather than having the mind-body take its chance to do something harmful to itself (as punishment for not being right), it’s better to make that change right away, so the body and mind can feel ‘easy’ again.
“Helping” Other People Change
I once had a woman phone me to see if I could help her husband stop snoring. I asked if he was bothered or wakened by his own snoring. “No! Not at all!!!” with a few additional choice words thrown in to express her frustration with the lack of sleep she’d been getting because of it. “When would you like to see me?” I asked – “No, it’s not for me but for him.” Well, I had to explain that she was the one who was being kept awake by the sound while he slept beautifully, so it was something we could work on with her, not with him. So we worked on a perspective change which shifted the snoring to become a support for sleep, not a barrier. Most of us know someone who ‘should’ change, but as you might have experienced, growth, change or learning forced on us tends to be limited (some of the subjects we learned in grade school, for example). Instead, we can only support them as they are and with unconditional acceptance trust they will take the next step to support themselves better. In the meantime, we can also view our reactions to others ‘offences’ and see if there might be a bit of ‘pot calling the kettle black’ in one aspect or other.
What to do when it stops working for you
As I mentioned before, if something stops working for you, the best time to change it is NOW. While most people feel worried that they won’t be able to succeed (read FAIL), you just have to realize one thing – the worst thing that could happen is that you continue or go back to what isn’t working, BUT with the new information about what doesn’t (totally or partially) work, so you can choose to do something else the next time. There are few guarantees in life, but not doing anything will tend to guarantee that nothing will change.
In celebration of smoke-free July we are offering $10 off (think that’s about the cost of a pack) our 2-session stop smoking packages. Our Hypnotherapists are excited to help make this transition time a whole lot easier. Before the stop-smokers from this month get up at arms, remember, you’ve probably already saved at least $10 on cigarettes so far, so you just got a head start!
Take care and take a nice deep, fresh breath,