People who haven’t known me for very long are usually surprised to learn that I am a reformed smoker. I know, I know, it goes against everything I preach about living a healthy lifestyle, but from my late teens to my early 30s, I was addicted to cigarettes..
Every few years, I’d decide to quit. I’d make a big announcement, throw all my smokes away, and try some new “quick fix.” I went through patches, gum, medication, and acupuncture. I even learned to knit so I’d have something to occupy my hands ---but all that resulted in was A LOT of people getting A LOT of really bad scarves that Christmas.
Each attempt would last for a week, a month, sometimes longer…but inevitably I’d cave and “just have one” and before I knew it I’d be smoking a pack a day.
Finally one morning I woke up with the smell of smoke lingering in my hair, my mouth tasting like an ashtray, my complexion sallow and dry and I remember looking in the mirror and something just clicked. I realized the harm I was doing to myself, and I realized that I deserved better than that. I finally understood that I needed to love myself enough to take care of myself. I threw my remaining cigarettes out that morning and I never looked back.
I’m not saying it was easy—in fact I was unbearable to be around for several weeks, but I stuck it out cold turkey. So what made it work that time versus all the others? I finally learned to harness my own power—and I found a reason that was bigger than my excuses—myself.
You can give people every opportunity or tool they need to change their lives, but until they are ready to do it for themselves—it won't work. You can motivate and encourage people to succeed, but unless they want it deep down inside, you can’t force it to happen. We see this a lot when it comes to health and fitness. This is the time of year that people buy expensive gym memberships, throw out their junk food, and set big goals. However, statistics show that 30 days later, many have already given up, despite what looked like a foolproof plan. Why? Because when the change becomes uncomfortable, their excuses become louder than their reasons. They haven’t found the one motivation that no trainer, friend, family member, or amount of “likes” on social media can give them—the one that has to come from within and make them believe in themselves and their ability to succeed—and they have to want it badly enough to struggle and fight for it--- because it’s usually on the other side of the struggle that we realize just how powerful we are.
Making a major lifestyle change isn’t easy. And while there are outside forces that can validate your decision, ultimately the desire has to come from you and it has to outweigh any excuse you give yourself for sabotaging your efforts. You have to love yourself enough to realize that you deserve to live your best life and that you, and only you, are the one who can make that happen. In short---You have to find your power--your inner badass.
Remember Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz"? Those pretty red shoes would’ve taken her back to Kansas at any point along her journey down the yellow brick road. But it wasn’t until she had struggled, fought, and found her inner strength that she finally understood. As the good witch Glenda said, “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”