I remember a non-english speaking friend asking me about my helping people stop smoking with hypnosis. And she wondered something I had never considered – “how is eating turkey supposed to help people quit cigarettes?” For those of you who may not be familiar, ‘cold turkey’ is an idiom that means to stop smoking without any time in cutting down, you just stop. While this has worked for some people, it seems to be challenging for most (which is why hypnosis is so popular for helping people become successful non-smokers for life)… but I digress.
So because the mind loves to bounce around because of strange and wonderful associations, I’m going to talk turkey – the flightless bird, stopping something ‘cold’, and anything in between…
Chemistry of Turkey
The adage goes – if you want to fall asleep, eat turkey (the bird), because everyone feels tired after a big turkey dinner. There is a chemical component in turkey that makes one feel sleepy – tryptophan. However, from what I’ve seen of the research, and interesting and strong association has been made here that is only marginally true. Gram for gram, cheddar cheese has more tryptophan than turkey (all meats contain this component as well). However, except for the cheese sauce on something, it seems that a combination of overeating and higher levels of carbohydrates present in this sort of meal are responsible for the lethargy after the meal. Yet turkey gets the ‘blame’. This is the doing of the conscious mind – it needs to find reasons for things happening in our lives and tends to go for what sounds most logical. At other times, while it might not be the only option, or even the most logical (if drilled down into reasoning), the conscious mind tends to find a ‘reason’ that is best for us to continue to live as we have without the discomfort of changing too much.
So what do we do about turkey? I know that I’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving meals much more since I reduced the amount of food (total) and carbohydrates (percentage). I’ve been game for a walk while others groaned or nodded off on the couch.
As you know with the powerful subconscious – any experience we’ve ever had can be re-experienced with our mind (most easily done with hypnosis). So if you’ve ever felt energized after a meal, or felt full with less food, these are imaginings you can do to mind-practice before a big meal (with turkey or not) – you may find that you’ll feel better and eat less than traditionally done. And you’ve just brought your own party trick to the party!
Plucking a Habit
Back to stopping smoking ‘cold turkey’, it raises the questions – do I stop gradually or do I stop all of a sudden? And over the years, I’ve figured that the answer is a resounding “it depends”. However, for some issues I’ve found that it can be easier to stop right away. Usually it is something that is ‘digital’ – on or off – like cigarettes. While not for everyone, stopping completely to be a successful ‘non-smoker’, rather than cutting back (many people have done it and gone right back up to their limits later) seems to be more empowering. Because that’s what change is all about – unless it’s forced by someone else – it’s about taking back choice, control and your own personal power (where you might have felt you had none).
Sometimes we can’t just stop something completely – like eating – so there might be different shifts that need to be made for that. The question I always ask is “how long can you do this for?” Often people go on extreme diets and then ‘have’ to come off them (in their minds they fail) because there is no way you could continue to exist on that sort of regime. I’ve found that the most successful lifestyle changes are ones that can continue without a restricted timeline.
However, one area I suggest you focus on giving up ‘cold turkey’ is negative labeling. If you’ve ever heard the mean voice in your head, (remember, it may have been a protective part of us to counter negative words or actions from others) contest it! Have a series of examples that shows that this is not ALWAYS the case, that you are in a process of changing, that these words do not have to hold you back in experiencing the life you really want, really need. You may need help with this, but when the words of the past no longer stick, you are truly free to create the life you want.
Turkey (or Turkish) Delight
I love the word ‘delight’ – it’s an emotion that seems to waft playfully above happy. What would delight you in your life? Are there other words that you’d like to attain? Contentment, pride, peace? When you find a word that sets your heart aglow, use it as often as you can in conversation, write it down somewhere you can see it often, discover aspects of your life that might contribute to more of that word. What are the benefits of ‘delight’ (or whatever the change word is) in your daily life? How would it change the way you work, the way you interact, the way you feel? Really feel how this would positively affect you and those around you. Take a moment and realize that there may be something to lose in this transformation – others may be sour about your good fortune, you may have to take responsibility for things that go wrong rather than blame circumstances, etc – and understand that this may tempt you away from your ‘delight’. Understanding this with some self-compassion helps us to create alternative plans when we come up against situations like these. Once you’ve done all this, close your eyes and take a moment to imagine what life is like on the other, delightful side… Felt good, didn’t it? Do that often and you’ll see the world in a different way. They say “don’t let the turkeys get you down” but now that you know more about turkey, you can look at that in a different way too!